The Great Movie Re-Watch
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
David Z. Weinstein
A rough-and-tumble trucker helps rescue his friend’s fiancée from an ancient sorcerer in a supernatural battle beneath Chinatown.
I’ve only watched Big Trouble in Little China once before. I’d forgotten how crazy awesome it is. I’ve kind of only been paying half attention to a lot of the movies I’ve re-watched so far. I couldn’t do that with Big Trouble. There’s always something either funny or crazy going on, and it’s hard to look away. Especially since it’s not a movie, I’m very familiar with.
What makes the movie is that Jack, Kurt Russell, isn’t the hero. He’s an everyman thrust into a fantastic story and becomes a sidekick. He isn’t a joke and has his moments to shine, but he’s also not a savior, even if he did kill the bad guy in the end. He’s the movie’s main focus, but while he’s surviving, you see the other characters doing most of the heavy lifting. It’s, frankly, awesome. I’d love to see more movies like this, and if anyone has any recommendations, please post them in the comments.
Gracie, Kim Cattrall, comes off a bit manic. She’s constantly moving and has a positive energy even when talking about the potential end of the world. She’s smart and has a Lois Lane vibe. She gets herself in trouble but also gets herself out of it. She’s more capable than Jack.
Big Trouble in Little China was a financial flop. The studio had no idea how to market it because they didn’t understand it. For them, Russell was supposed to be the hero, but he clearly wasn’t, so they made Carpenter write something to “explain” the character. This is why we get the opening scene, which makes the least amount of sense in the entire movie. Thankfully, the film ended up finding its audience and now has a cult following.
I already want to re-watch Big Trouble. I’m kind of ashamed that I own it and have only seen it twice. It should be one of those movies I watch periodically throughout the year. It has many of the things I liked about Last Dragon. It has a large minority cast, weird fight scenes, and a heavy 80s influence. Only Big Trouble does it all, just a bit better. There is a huge 80s influence, but it’s done in all of the best ways. It’s easily in the top ten movies I’ve watched so far, quite possibly top five.