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Big Trouble in Little China – Review October 5, 2009

Posted by Cello in Domestic Film Reviews.


This film is nuts. At the time in the 80’s Big Trouble in Little China employed pretty much every Chinese/American actor alive at the time. Then they imported a few from Hong Kong and China! Kurt Russell is a trucker who winds up waist-deep in gang warfare, kung-fu, and dark Chinese sorcery. He drives his good buddy Wang Chi to the airport where he is to meet his beautiful, green eyed bride-to-be from China. Shortly thereafter, they have to rescue her from baddies. It’s aged a bit, but Big Trouble in Little China remains terrific fun.

They take the chase all the way back to Chinatown, where Kurt Russel’s character gets his first bitter taste of Chinese black magic in the form of three mystical Storm warriors. If you haven’t seen this film the action is very mid 80’s, and yet that’s one of the great things about it. It’s completely old-fashioned, while allowing ridiculous unexplained things to fly in out of left field, such as a giant monster that makes its entrance and exit in about 3 seconds flat and is never seen again.


Big Trouble in Little China was not an Oscar contender, despite the critically important events that it’s based on. It’s perhaps the mother of all B-movies and is only out to entertain, which it succeeds. There is no way any of it could happen in this world, and probably not in the next one, but it’s so much fun that we just suspend belief and go along for the ride. This movie has been a treasure to me since I first saw it as a kid.

As with every good fairy tale, things turn out well in the end. The whole gang triumphs over the age old forces of evil. The performances are uniformly strong while it’s clear that all the performers were having a blast making this film. The stunt work is well choregraphed and it’s no doubt that Director John Carpenter and his stunt coordinators were paying close attention to Chinese kung fu films long before anyone else was. The film is great entertainment and will have you smiling at its foolishness throughout and it comes highly recommended by me.



1. DrunkenScholar - October 5, 2009

You know, if you had given this movie anything less than an “A” I don’t think we could be friends anymore. 😀

“When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol’ Jack Burton always says at a time like that: “Have ya paid your dues, Jack?” “Yessir, the check is in the mail.”

2. hagiblog - October 5, 2009

I love this movie but I haven’t seen it for a very, very long time. If I ever see this somewhere I’m gonna pick it up, something tells me I can score it for 10 bucks some place.

3. Cello - October 5, 2009

Will, you know this available in glorious blu-ray now too 😛

4. Yi - October 5, 2009

Predictable plot but good action. It’s a decently good mind filler film.
I really like your Asian movie reviews. I have linked you on my site. ^ ^
If you like mine too, would you like to exchange links?

Yi - October 10, 2009

I guess not. ^ ^

5. goregirl - October 5, 2009

Man oh man. Carpenter was gold back then! Rock freaking solid gold! Nicely put…this film is terrific fun!

6. Starsquid - October 5, 2009

Never saw this movie, hmm..did you change your layout or something?

7. Starsquid - October 5, 2009

Thanks for the comment. Ahh that was it, I thought something was different haha. Yea me too and not planning to pay for it haha. I thought it was ridiculous already that you have to pay an upgrade in order to upload media like audio, and another upgrade for video. Oh well, other ways work fine 😛

8. unclecritic - October 5, 2009

One of my favorite movies, big thumbs up for reviewing it.

9. glothelegend - October 6, 2009

OH MY GOD. This movie was like…..awesome on so many levels.

10. Aiden R - October 6, 2009

Good review and an awesome movie. Kurt Russell’s the man, John Carpenter’s the man, together, they’re a thing of beauty.

11. Bill Thompson - October 7, 2009

I liked parts of Big Trouble, but on the whole it’s one of my least favorite Carpenter films. For some reason it never worked for me as much as I wanted it to.

12. somekindofmuffin - October 7, 2009

This has always been one of my favorite movies.
In your review you mention events this movie was based on. What were they?

Cello - October 8, 2009

Based on Egg Shien’s account of the events given to his lawyer. You see, according to Carpenter himself, the studio “didn’t get it” [his film] and made him write something that would explain the character of Jack Burton. Carpenter came up with the prologue scene between Egg Shen and the lawyer.

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