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
Following Escape from New Yorkand The Thing, John Carpenter and Kurt Russell re-unite for this mystical, action, adventure, comedy, kung-fu, monster, ghost story!
Russell plays Jack Burton, a reasonable guy who is about to experience some unreasonable things in San Francisco s Chinatown. As his friend s fiancée is kidnapped Jack becomes embroiled in a centuries-old battle between good and evil. At the root of it all is Lo Pan, a 2000-year-old magician who rules an empire of evil spirits. Jack goes to the rescue dodging demons, goblins and the unstoppable Three Storms as he battles through Lo Pan s dark domain.
One of Carpenters most enjoyable and best loved films, Big Trouble in Little China brilliantly juggles delirious set-pieces, comedy and kung-fu action with a razor sharp script of corking one-liners, as Jack would say It s all in the reflexes .
Special Features: Limited edition Steelbook packaging
- High Definition presentation of the film from a digital transfer prepared by Twentieth Century Fox
- Optional 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and uncompressed Stereo 2.0 Audio
- Isolated 5.1 DTS-HD Isolated Score Soundtrack
- Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Audio Commentary with director John Carpenter and star Kurt Russell
- Return to Little China A brand new interview with John Carpenter
- Being Jack Burton A brand new interview with Kurt Russell
- Carpenter and I A brand new interview with cinematographer Dean Cundey
- A new interview with producer Larry Franco
- Interview with visual effects producer Richard Edlund
- Vintage Making-of featurette featuring cast and crew
- Extended Ending
- Deleted Scenes
- Music Video
- Gallery of behind-the-scenes images
- 3 original trailers
- TV Spots
- Booklet featuring new writing on the film by John Kenneth Muir, author of The Films of John Carpenter, a re-print of an article on the effects of the film from American Cinematographer, illustrated with archive stills and posters