Return to the ’80s Movies: Big Trouble in Little China

Starring
Kurt Russell
Kim Cattrall
Dennis Dun
James Hong
Victor Wong

Rated PG-13

Runtime  99 minutes

Released  July 2, 1986

 

 

Synopsis: Kurt Russell plays hard-boiled truck driver Jack Burton, who gets caught in a bizarre conflict within, and underneath, San Francisco’s Chinatown. An ancient Chinese prince and Chinatown crime lord has kidnapped a beautiful green-eyed woman, who is the fiancee to Jack’s best friend. Jack must help his friend rescue the girl before the evil Lo Pan uses her to break the ancient curse that keeps him a fleshless and immortal spirit.

Last time I had seen this? Never

What I knew about this movie before watching it Not much. I knew Kurt Russell was in it. I had forgotten that this was a John Carpenter movie. I also knew it was an action/adventure movie.

Review/Summary: Truck driver Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) brings his friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) to the San Francisco airport to pick up Wang’s fiancee Miao Yin (Suzee Pai), who is arriving from China. While waiting at the airport, Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall) catches the eye of Jack. She is there to pick up another Chinese girl. As the passengers arrive from their flight, a gang tries to kidnap Gracie’s friend. Jack interferes, but they end up taking Miao Yin instead. Jack and Wang get in the truck and try to hunt down the kidnappers.
They end up in an alley, where they stumble upon a funeral procession that quickly erupts into a street fight between two gangs. Then three supernatural ninjas appear, and begin to slaughter the good gang. Jack and Wang get out of dodge by driving off. Then a sorcerer looking guy appears in front of Jack’s truck. Jack plowed him over. Jack gets freaked out and gets out of the truck, only to find the sorcerer behind the truck unscathed, and annoyed. Wang grabs Jack and they take off on foot before they get themselves killed.

They regroup at a restaurant that Wang owns, where they meet up with Gracie, Wang’s friend Eddie Lee (Donald Li), and magician Egg Shen (Victor Wong). Then they explain to Jack (and us) the story of Lo Pan (James Hong), the sorcerer that Jack ran over. Lo Pan and his men run a brothel, in San Francisco’s Chinatown, where they sell women as sex slaves – which is why they went to the airport to capture Gracie’s friend.

Jack and Wang go to rescue Miao Yin from Lo Pan. Instead, they get captured. They are brought to Lo Pan, who is now in the form of an ancient looking old man. Lo Pan needs a special green-eyed girl to break an ancient curse, and he intends to sacrifice Miao Yin. Centuries ago, Lo Pan, a great warrior and powerful wizard, was defeated by an emperor. The Emperor placed a curse on Lo Pan where his flesh disappears. Lo Pan can temporarily recover his body a little. But, in order for him to permanently break the curse and regain his human form, he must marry a woman with green eyes (which Miao Yin happens to have). And to satisfy the Emperor, he must sacrifice her.

Jack and Wang manage to escape, and free the sex slaves. Gracie and Eddie had gotten there in time to help. As they escaped the building Gracie gets captured. And as it turns out, she has green eyes too. Lo Pan decides to sacrifice Gracie, and make Miao Yin his wife. Wang and Jack go to see Egg Shen, and with the help of the good gang from earlier – Chang Sing – they enter an underground cavern to return to Lo Pan’s headquarters. Egg gives everybody a potion that makes them feel invincible. They arrive at the ceremony where Lo Pan is trying to break his curse, and a huge final battle ensues.

I was expecting an action movie, but nothing like this! This was a combination of standard action as well as supernatural action. And of course, action that is reminiscent of Kung Fu Theater. The movie was also funny, and had some great quotes. Kurt Russell was incredible. I still have yet to see a Kurt Russell movie that I did not like. Technically, this movie was a flop, grossing just $11.1 million with a $25 million budget. But, it has developed a cult following – justifiable so. Another great thing about the movie was the soundtrack. The music was written by John Carpenter, and nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Music. It was his trademark synthesizer/rock music style.

Some scenes were over-the-top crazy, especially with the death of one of the villains towards the end of the movie. But, this movie was so much fun! I can’t believe I had gone this long without seeing it. If you like Action/Adventure Comedies mixed with Kung Fu, I would highly recommend this movie.

Does the movie stand the test of time? Yes. I feel that the action is pretty timeless. Some effects did look a little cheesy, but that was what made it fun. This movie stands the test of time on its own. If it was ever remade, the remake would pale in comparison. So leave this movie alone, Hollywood!!!!

Worth the Return? Yes!!! This was a fun movie, and I would go back and watch it when I get a chance.

Rating 4 sets of green eyes

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Have any of you seen this movie? What do you think? Do you have any favorite quotes?  I love this exchange:

Lo Pan: Ching Dai will be appeased, my curse will be lifted!

Jack Burton: And you can go on to rule the universe from beyond the grave.

Lo Pan: Indeed!

Jack Burton: Or check into a psycho ward, whichever comes first, right?

Wang Chi: Jack, will you…?

Jack Burton: “Jack” what? I’m supposed to buy this shit? 2000 years, he can’t find one broad to fit the bill? Come on, Dave, you must be doing something seriously wrong!

5 thoughts on “Return to the ’80s Movies: Big Trouble in Little China”

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