MOVIE #1,239 • 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿 • 11.16.23 Watching this for the first time as a 42-year-old man, it didn't totally click for me. In a ...

Big Trouble in Little China

MOVIE #1,239 • 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿 • 11.16.23

Watching this for the first time as a 42-year-old man, it didn't totally click for me. In a sense, I kept wishing I could have seen this as a kid and had its insane, cartoonish action embedded into me. But you can't invent nostalgia. This is the 11th entry in my series on James Hong and it arguably features his most famous role (the central villain, Lo Pan). But this is also an overlap for a DIRECTOR FOCUS serial that I haven't started yet. I'm woefully late to the party on the works of John Carpenter (I've shamefully only seen two of his 18 films: Halloween and They Live). But this current A-Z actor profile trumps the future chronological look into the career of the “master of horror.” However, I guarantee I will be doing a Carpenter deep dive in 2024.

This feels like a comic book come to life and if any of the big Marvel or DC tent poles had even a tenth of its energy and sense of pacing, they would be much better movies. But this is at the expense of cohesion and character development. I hate to (partly) agree with Ebert but when he writes, “special effects don't mean much unless we care about the characters who are surrounded by them, and in this movie the characters often seem to exist only to fill up the foregrounds,” he’s not totally wrong. I think he’s shortchanging how spectacular the FX and character design and nearly non-stop action is, but there is not a whole lot going on beneath the surface. There are plenty of issues — from the completely undercooked love story (Russell and Cattrall exchange maybe ten words with each other before making out) to the anticlimactic death of Hong (who is truly fantastic) — but the myriad problems are all rendered moot by how incredibly fun this is. The cast is perfect as is the ultra creative weirdness both in its 100% charming though dated effect work and its totally random creature design. You simply can’t argue with this, though I have no idea why it’s happening…

In the end (which features one of the worst movie theme songs I’ve heard — and I am a fan of Carpenter’s soundtracks!), you completely forget that Kurt Russell’s entire motivation was basically getting his truck back. It’s the kind of film that’s SO good on the surface that its very evident flaws are completely forgivable.

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Big Trouble in Little China (also known as John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China) is a 1986 American fantasy action-comedy film directed by John Carpenter, and starring Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun and James Hong. The film tells the story of truck driver Jack Burton (Russell), who helps his friend Wang Chi (Dun) rescue Wang's green-eyed fiancée from bandits in San Francisco's Chinatown. They go into the mysterious underworld beneath Chinatown, where they face an ancient sorcerer named David Lo Pan (Hong), who requires a woman with green eyes to marry him in order to be released from a centuries-old curse. It was released on July 2, 1986.


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