#98: Big Trouble in Little China

Somethin’s goin’ down in Chinatown…

Director: John Carpenter
Year: 1986
Genre: Fantasy/Action/Comedy

This movie is pretty fuckin’ silly, and I might be just as silly for listing it as my favourite John Carpenter film, but if you’ve seen Big Trouble in Little China and you don’t like it, then perhaps you’re missing some funny bones.
I’m not talking about a film that’s so bad it’s good, Big Trouble in Little China is by no means ‘bad’, it’s tongue-in-cheek and packed full of self-aware cheesiness. Here’s a film that takes a typical action/fantasy yarn, which there were an abundance of in the 80’s, and puts a spin on its usual tropes by putting the ‘sidekick’ character in the lead; imagine Star Wars with Han Solo as the primary hero but much less capable. Jack Burton, Kurt Russell in top form, one of my all-time movie heroes, is a wise-crackin’ truck-driver who underestimates the world and thinks the world of himself. Jack Burton’s no Jedi, he’s just an everyday man cruisin’ through life on the Pork Chop Express (that’s his truck). Aside from the comical elements, the beauty of putting the incapable sidekick in the lead is that the risk of failure is higher and the character is more relatable.

If your heroes are of the likes of Han Solo, Ash (The Evil Dead trilogy) or Indiana Jones and you’re partial to a bit of martial arts and ancient Chinese magic, then you tell those suckers at the video store that, “the cheque is in the mail.”

To give you an idea of what you’re in for in Big Trouble in Little China, and if you’ve never had the pleasure of hearing John Carpenter sing, check out the hilarious music video written and performed by Carpenter himself… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D03E9kUTTtQ

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