Trying to explain the cult appeal of John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China
to the uninitiated is no easy task. The plot in a nutshell follows lorry driver Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) into San Francisco's Chinatown, where he's embroiled in street gang warfare over the mythical/magical intentions of would-be god David Lo Pan. There are wire-fu fight scenes, a floating eyeball and monsters from other dimensions. Quite simply it belongs to a genre of its own. Carpenter was drawing on years of chop-socky Eastern cinema tradition, which, at the time of the film's first release in 1986, was regrettably lost on a general audience. Predictably, it bombed.
But now that Jackie Chan and Jet Li have made it big in the West, and Hong Kong cinema has spread its influence across Hollywood, it's much, much easier to enjoy this film's happy-go-lucky cocktail of influences. Russell's cocky anti-hero is easy to cheer on as he "experiences some very unreasonable things" blundering from one fight to another, and lusts after the gorgeously green-eyed Kim Cattrall. The script is peppered with countless memorable lines, too ("It's all in the reflexes"). Originally outlined as a sequel to the equally obscure Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, Big Trouble is a bona fide cult cinema delight. Jack sums up the day's reactions perfectly, "China is here? I don't even know what the Hell that means!".
On the DVD: Big Trouble in Little China is released as a special edition two-disc set in its full unedited form. Some real effort has been put into both discs' animated menus, and the film itself is terrific in 2.35:1 and 5.1 (or DTS). The commentary by Carpenter and Russell may not be as fresh as their chat on The Thing, but clearly they both retain an enormous affection for the film. There are eight deleted scenes (some of which are expansions of existing scenes), plus a separate extended ending which was edited out for the right reasons. You'll also find a seven-minute featurette from the time of release, a 13-minute interview with FX guru Richard Edlund, a gallery of 200 photos, 25 pages of production notes and magazine articles from American Cinematographer and Cinefex. Best of all for real entertainment value is a music video with Carpenter and crew (the Coupe de Villes) coping with video FX and 80s hair-dos.--Paul Tonks
A quirky special effects film that mixes hard-hitting action with pitch- perfect verbal and physical humor --Blu-ray.com