Big Trouble In Little China (1986)

big trouble in little china movie poster kurt russell 1986
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Weird movie and genre blend

Story sometimes fumbles and pacing problems

Movie Info

Movie Name: Big Trouble In Little China

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Genre(s): Action/Adventure/Comedy/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Martial Arts

Release Date(s): July 6, 1986

MPAA Rating: R

big trouble in little china lo pan james hong glowing eyes

I’m just bitter that I didn’t make the “Total Eclipse of the Heart” video

When Miao Yin (Suzee Pai) is taken for a sex trade ring, Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) vows to help her fiancé Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) get her back.  Teaming with a reporter named Margo Litzenberger (Kate Burton) and lawyer named Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall) out to expose the sex trade, Jack and Wang find themselves caught in the middle of an ancient war between Lo Pan (James Hong) and Egg Shen (Victor Wong).  Lo Pan is searching for his perfect bride to continue his immortality…and he might have found it in Gracie and Miao.

Directed by John Carpenter, Big Trouble in Little China is a sci-fi-fantasy action-comedy-adventure.  Following Carpenter’s acclaimed Starman in 1984, the film was initially under-marketed and bombed at the box office.  The movie picked up steam on home video and has become a cult classic.

big trouble in little china cast elevator scene kurt russell

Love in an elevator

Big Trouble in Little China is an odd movie and one of those movies that always seemed to be on TV in the ’90s.  I actually don’t recall sitting down to completely watch it, but I feel that I have seen every part of the movie multiple times.  Watching the movie as a whole, however, does go to show how strange the movie really is.

The movie can’t really be easily classified.  I would say it is an action comedy, but there are also a lot of sci-fi and fantasy to it as well.  The movie is just bizarre, and many won’t get the humor within the story.  The odd framework of the attorney scene at the beginning seems a bit unnecessary, but the rest of the film’s script does find that odd balance and is enjoyable as a result though the movie sometimes suffers from pacing problems in the story while somehow also feeling anticlimactic.

big trouble in little china guardian monster

Why does it feel like somebody’s watching me?

Kurt Russell makes this movie.  Much like his other big action hits (The Thing, Escape from New York), he really seems to be having fun and gets the scripts little nuances.  I am not a big Kim Cattrall fan, but she’s mostly harmless in this supporting role.  Dennis Dun is great as the real “action” star of the movie since Burton is revealed to not even know how to work a gun through the course of the movie (the poser nature of his character does add to the humor).  The movie also loaded with great villains all led by James Hong…you have to love Thunder (Carter Wong), Rain (Peter Kwong), and Lightning (James Pax).

big trouble in little china thunder explodes

Tex Avery would be proud

Big Trouble in Little China also looks big.  The effects for the film are quite strong considering when it was made.  Be it the monsters or the giant floating eye thing (my personal favorite), the oddity of the creations just adds to the weird story.  The fan favorite includes the exploding Thunder who just decides without his master he cannot go on, and Lightning who obviously was the basis for Mortal Kombat’s Raiden.

Big Trouble in Little China is a fun ride that can entertain fans of a lot of genres.  The movie has a crazy feel to it and it is too bad that it didn’t do better after its initial release because I would have enjoyed seeing the characters return for another adventure.  Carpenter followed Big Trouble in Little China with Prince of Darkness in 1987.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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