“I’m a reasonable guy. But, I’ve just experienced some very unreasonable things.Big Trouble in Little China. Full of great characters, a wildly entertaining story, and one of the greatest “side kicks who thinks he’s the hero” gags, I’d honestly put my life on the line in support of that movie.
Today marks the 30th anniversary since the movie hit theaters where it was considered a major flop, earning only $11.1 million (in N. America) against its $20 million budget. While audiences at that time did not recognize the magnificence that graced their very presence, we today understand the appeal of the film, which has since attained a cult status. Hell, even The Rock loves it.
As you can probably guess, the following is simply me gushing about Big Trouble in Little China. Here we go.
Many of you know my undying love of this film. Hell, I’d honestly put it in my Top 10 movie list, and that’s not limiting it to horror. I can’t tell you how much joy I get watching Big Trouble in Little China. Firstly, it’s got the ever awesome Kurt Russell, the incredibly attractive and brilliantly cast Kim Cattrall, and it introduced Carpenter to Dennis Dun, who would appear in 1987’s Prince of Darkness. When it comes to villains, they cast James Hong as Lo Pan. Sheer. Genius.
The story is also delightfully absurd and yet absolutely magnificent. I’d be willing to put down serious money that says games like Streets of Rage and Double Dragon took inspiration from here. Just think about it! Gang members kidnap the hero’s girlfriend and it’s up to him and his pal/brother/whatever to rescue her by beating the absolute crap out of everyone in various scenarios. That’s the plot to nearly every arcade beat ’em up from the late 80’s and early 90’s. At the very least, they owe Big Trouble in Little China a little bit of gratitude.
As for the script, I will never stop gushing over it. It fully embraces its cheesiness and pokes fun at it left and right. The level of absurdity is through the roof and yet everyone plays their characters with just joy and gusto that every line comes off as charming instead of groan-inducing.
Look at these examples:
“Okay. You people sit tight, hold the fort and keep the home fires burning. And if we’re not back by dawn… call the president.”
“This is gonna take crackerjack timing, Wang.”
“Play your cards right… you live to talk about it!”
“[After Jack starts up his truck, “Porkchop Express”] 6.9 on the Richter scale!”
“That’s why the bottle didn’t slice. My mind and my spirit are goin’ north and south.”
Dammit, I love it so much!
And for those of you still kvetching that it’s not a horror movie, let’s look at the monsters because some of them are great!
Remember the hairy red-eyed Yeti-esque thing? I won’t lie, that thing scared me when I was a young’un. The final scene where it bursts out of the back of Burton’s truck? I covered my eyes nearly every time. Or how about the “Guardian”, the multi-eyed cacodemon looking bastard that licked itself with a tongue that had an eyeball on its tip!!! If that’s not enough, the whole movie is about demons, ghosts, and supernatural entities. Just because the horror aspect isn’t front and center doesn’t mean it’s not a horror film. It’s just a ton of other stuff as well!
As always, Carpenter and co-composing partner Alan Howarth crafted an engaging and addictive score. Carpenter’s own band Coupe De Villes’ provided a theme song which never fails to make me tap my feet and sing along.
Look, I could go on and on about Big Trouble in Little China for hours and hours. Seriously, hang out with me, get a beer or two inside my stomach, and watch me gush. Why? Because it’s a brilliant movie that is honestly one of John Carpenter’s best.
And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go pop it in. This is Jonathan Barkan of the Bloody-Disgusting Express, signing off!