Blu-ray Review: Big Trouble in Little China | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, July 12th, 2020  

Big Trouble in Little China

Studio: Scream Factory

Jan 20, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Jack Burton is a no-nonsense, shit-kicking truck driver who just happened to leave his big rig behind in a back alley of San Francisco’s Chinatown at the worst possible moment. Sure, he may have been caught between warring gangs of martial artists, and he may have just witnessed a quartet of mystical sorcerers slaughter them wholesale, but his insurance agency will never believe that – meaning, he needs to get that truck back. While he’s working on that, he may as well help his pal Wang rescue his kidnapped girlfriend, who will be married off to an immortal wizard (and Chinatown gang boss) in a rite that will end in sacrifice and allow the evil, undying Lo Pan to rule over the entire world.

John Carpenter’s 1986 genre-melding, big budget studio film may have flopped immensely on release, but it’s gone on to become one of the director’s bigger cult hits. An incredibly wacky adventure film, Big Trouble in Little China is a superbly weird mix of mysticism, gleefully dumb action, one-liners, and great special effects. Initially conceived as a Western before being completely overhauled to its ‘80s San Fran setting, Carpenter – as a director-for-hire – added many of his own, signature touches to the movie, including composing his own score. Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) plays as a goofily incompetent hero who’s repeatedly saved by his better-equipped “sidekick,” Wang (Dennis Dun); Burton’s something like Indiana Jones, if Indy could hardly snap his whip without knocking his own hat off. (As the movie’s main baddie, the insanely prolific James Hong turns in one of his most memorable performances, turning the immortal sorcerer into something of a shrill, scatterbrained whiner.) The action itself isn’t afraid to be a little tacky, with wild camera angles, nutty visual effects, and a heavy heaping of wire-fu. In the ‘80s action canon, this is one of the more unabashedly silly entries – and a lot of fun.

With its cult following, this release of Big Trouble has of course been preceded by other special editions. Scream Factory has thankfully ported over all of the essential extras from prior releases, including the commentary by Carpenter and Russell. They’ve complemented those vintage materials by speaking to just about everyone else from the cast and crew who weren’t involved in the older DVD releases, including Dennis Dun, James Hong, Al Leong, poster art legend Drew Struzan, writer W.D. Richter (who also helmed the equally wacky Buckaroo Banzai), and many others. Combined with all of the old special edition features, this is far and away the most complete history of Big Trouble in Little China that we’ve even seen.



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