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Big Trouble In Little China

Big Trouble in Little China

What She said:

She

What do I think of Big Trouble in Little China?  Honestly, I’m still just trying to get my bearings, figure out where I am, and assess what I just saw.  I get it, this film is a throwback homage to kung-fu, and it has plenty of quirky spunk, but it plays out like a low-grade seizure. 

Back story, I think not.  We jump right into the thick of things with our protagonist, the exceptionally macho truck driver Jack Burton (Kurt Russell).  He’s the type of fella who keeps a large knife in his leather boots.  That’s just how cool he is.  Anyway, Jack and his friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) head over to the airport to pick up Wang’s fiancée Miao Yin (Suzee Pai).  First impressions, Miao is way too good for Wang.  This woman is gorgeous with green eyes.  But I guess it’s not what I think that matters.  So this Chinese street gang shows up at the airport terminal—I believe they’re called the Lords of Death—and tries to kidnap this other Chinese girl.  Jack intervenes, and so they decide to take Miao instead. Way to go Jack.

Now, you’d thinking that this is the point where “all hell breaks loose,” but no, that doesn’t happen until Jack tries to chase the baddies down in his big rig.  He happens upon a theatrically spectacular gang fight that involves magic and these Three Storms fellas who I think might be gods or something.  And then this other guy, Lo Pan, shows up, and he’s some sort of crazy sorcerer and the leader of a group called the Wing Kong.  *sigh*  I can’t keep it all straight to be honest with you, but the important thing is that the most powerful people shoot lightning bolts out of their eyes, and that’s how you know they’re all business.

Big Trouble In Little China

So Jack, Wang, and some friends spend the rest of the movie trying to get Miao back, and boy does it get bizarre.  There’s ancient curses going around and secret elevators that go down into the recesses of the Earth.  Lots of craziness.  And then the good guys kill the bad guys, break the curse or curses, and get away, and all is right with the world, or so we think.  Wang is reunited with Miao and has the opportunity to gaze into those baby greens.  That is, until she realizes she’s probably too good for him and can nab herself a top Wall Street executive instead.  Ok, so that last part is not in the plot, but it should be.

So, what did I think?  Well, the movie is amusing.  I’ll give it that.  Incoherent, but admittedly amusing.  We are at no shortage of action and karate fighting.  So, in that sense, I liked it.  The characters are also larger-than-life, almost like they were pulled straight out of a comic book.  Apparently, this movie was originally penned as a Western set in the 1880s, and it certainly feels like it.  The moviemakers managed to modernize the script and move the setting to San Francisco’s Chinatown.  What we end up with is a kung-fu movie with Western flare that has a modern touch.  It’s very unique.

Now, I understand the premise of this movie, but I found the actually play-by-play storyline difficult to follow.  It just jumps all over the place, with new characters presented at every turn  and very little in the way of a solid backstory.  I found this frustrating because, while I was entertained, I wanted to be able to follow what I was watching on a slightly deeper level.  The movie didn’t have to be Oscar-worthy or anything; I just would have liked a more straightforward plot that reinforced the action that I saw on screen.

Big Trouble in Little China is Kurt Russell at his best.  He’s macho, yet witty and relatable.  He’s the everyman’s man.  He’s certainly not untouchable—dude gets his butt whooped on several occasions—but much like Bruce Willis, he keeps on truckin’ (literally in this movie).

Overall, this movie is fun and very watchable, but it can be excruciatingly difficult to follow at times.  This is the type of film that is best served at a party or after one has been indulging in some over-21 spirits.  If you’re expecting more than a breezy kung-fu/action film, then you’ll be disappointed.

Thumbs mostly up.

Big Trouble In Little China

What he said:

He

Street gangs, ancient Chinese sorcerers, and a truck drive named Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) are just a few of the things you are going to see in Big Trouble in Little China. If sounds appealing to you, this movie is right up your alley.

Jack Burton is an independent man. He travels through the states in his big rig – The Pork-Chop Express – making deliveries to various businesses throughout the country. His latest stop is the docks in San Francisco. After making his deliver, he decides to kill some time drinking beers and playing cards with his buddy Wang (Dennis Dun) and some other locals.  Jack has all the luck on this night and cleans house during the game. As a result, Wang owes him some money. Before he can pay, Wang has to go pick up his fiancé Miao Yin (Suzee Pai) from the airport. Jack decides to tag along.

Big Trouble In Little China

What seems like a routine errand is actually the beginning of an adventure they’ll never forget. While at the airport, a local street gang is there to abduct women as they get off the plane (from China) to force into their sex slave business. Jack notices and tries to help one of the girls. While that happens, the gang takes Miao Yin instead.

Jack and Wang chase them, but are unable to find them. What they do find is a fight between two rival gangs: the Wing Kong and the Chang Sing. The Wing Kong are the foot soldiers for corrupt businessman and possible evil sorcerer Lo Pan (James Hong). He runs Chinatown and they are his enforcers on the streets. The Chang Sing are the good guys. They protect the neighborhood, fight evil, and all that good stuff. While violent and scary, things are about to get a whole lot worse, because Lo Pan’s top henchmen – the three storms – show up. These guys are acolytes of Lo Pan’s and seem to be something of sorcerers themselves. They are masters of martial arts, but also possess otherworldly powers. Next thing they know, Lo Pan himself shows up. Jack and Wang end up abandoning Jack’s truck and fleeing on foot.

They head back to Wang’s restaurant  where Wang, his uncle, and some others fill Jack in on all the local legends. Essentially, Lo Pan is thousands of years old and very powerful, but he’s got some problems. He is currently stuck in some sort of limbo. He isn’t alive, but not totally dead either. He owes a debt to the demon he worships. In order to appease his master, he must marry and then sacrifice a girl with jade green eyes. Once he does this, he will become mortal again and be at full power.

This is where Miao Yin comes in. She is that girl and Lo Pan will stop at nothing to get his hands on her (green-eyed Chinese girls are rare). He also happens to come across a sassy young lawyer named Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall) and her equally jade green eyes.

Big Trouble In Little China

Jack and Wang decide that they can’t stand by and do nothing. They got to rescue the girls…and get Jack’s truck back too. The two of them along with local Lo Pan expert and sorcerer Egg Shen (Victor Wong), along with a few surviving members of the Chan Sing gang embark on a mission to put an end to Lo Pan’s evil.

Critics were not kind to this movie when it was first released, but over the years it has become a cult classic and even earned critical praise since. That makes me happy, because I think this movie is hilarious. It is a brilliant spoof of kung fu, fantasy, and action movies all blended into one. It is a wonderful B movie that delivers on all fronts.

First of all, I love that despite the fact this movie is a comedy, it alsoworks as a legitimate fantasy movie. The effects are fantastic for this era. Hell, they look better than some CGI used in today’s movie. Man, I miss practical effects. There’s some good CGI out there today, but most of it is awful in my opinion. It’s actually gotten worse in recent years if you ask me. Stuff like this and this look a lot better than some shitty computer generated effects used today.

Big Trouble In Little China

I also love the mythology of this movie too. The ancient legends, the monsters, the fight scenes – and I’m not the biggest fan of in kung fu flicks – all work for me in this movie. I find this movie to be immensely entertaining.

The acting is everything it needs to be for this kind of movie. Kurt Russell is absolutely brilliant in this movie. Jack Burton gets his ass kicked throughout the movie, but somehow manages to be cocky as hell; and I love every second of it. The world of ancient Chinese monsters and sorcerers is totally foreign to him – and he’s shocked when he sees it all for the first time – but after acclimating, Jack is all, “Yeah whatever, I’ll fight you.” I love that about him. Wang is also an excellent sidekick. He’s one bad little dude. I also love how Kim Cattrall’s character is like something out of an old movie. She’s Gracie Law and if you don’t know who is that is, you’re going to find out real quick buster! She has an old-school, damsel in distress, but also one tough dame thing going for her. James Hong and Victor Wong are also fantastic as the wily old sorcerers. The three storms are also great henchmen.

John Carpenter hasn’t done anything worth mentioning in years, but damn he knew how to make an entertaining movie back in the day. He was money in the 70s and 80s.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of approval on March 15, 2014.

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