Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

I didn’t know that having green eyes in the 80’s was the craziest things, but then again so was rubix cubes. I mean this is the 80’s we’re talking about here.

Traveling through a shadowy world filled with supernatural creatures and spectacular action, regular guy Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) and lawyer Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall) try to track down a 2,000-year-old magician, Lo Pan (James Hong), who has kidnapped Burton’s friend’s green-eyed fiancée.

After reading that synopsis right there you probably already have an understand of just what you’re getting yourself into when you go into a film like this. But it isn’t all that bad.

Director John Carpenter is doing a crazy thing here by actually combining a kung-fu film with some aspects of a western and somehow making it all work. The film really works well with it’s action that seems intentionally corny with the non-stop karate noises, high-flying judo kicks, and almost everything getting ripped to pieces. The action is a lot of fun and I’m glad that Carpenter went for the tongue-in-cheek approach because who can honestly take wizards and truck drivers fighting against each other in one movie together?

I think the problem with this film is that even though it does have a certain amount of fun to it, the lines and cliches were just almost unbearable to the point of where I just got annoyed. The film starts off a tad slow, which wouldn’t have bothered me at first if the lines weren’t so damn cheesy and the gags they actually had were funny rather than just being forced. There were also times during this film where they do something that seemed really cool back in 1986 but now just seems totally lame which is how it is with a lot of films that came from this decade.

However though, the real shining star of this film is actually Kurt Russell as Jack Burton. Russell is channeling in his inner John Wayne and does a great job at playing this dude that is such a fool of himself by talking up a big game for himself, and then never ending up to be able to actually prove his man-hood. Burton has some of the best lines in the film and when it seems like everyone else is just another action movie cliche, he seems to be able to seem like the most realistic person in the film.

The rest of the cast is filled with almost every Asian actor who’s been in a movie such as Dennis Dun, Victor Wong, and James Hong. Let’s not also forget to mention that we have a little side performance from none other than a very young Kim Cattrall who actually seems like she could use a film like this ever since her comeback performance in The Ghost Writer.

Consensus: Though it is of course dated in many places, Big Trouble in Little China has some awesome and just fun action sequences, with writing that doesn’t take itself too seriously so therefore nobody else should whoever wants to see this one.


Also, check out one of my latest posts on Boomtron about The Rock and Taylor Lautner in the David and Goliath film here:

Thanks everyone!


  1. This was on over the weekend! Watched about half but then switched to Rec 2.

    This movie is all kinds of goofy but I really enjoy it. I think Carpenter is more versatile than people give him credit for. He can pull off this silly action film and then stuff like Halloween and Star Man with equal skill.

    Love Jack’s lines. “Son of a bitch must pay!”

  2. One of my all-time favorite films. It’s got everything I want in a silly, action-comedy from John Carpenter. It’s got lots of great fights and silly one-liners while making no bones that they’re not taking themselves seriously. If only John Carpenter would find his mojo again so he can get us fans excited again following the disappointments he’s been going through lately.

  3. 6/10!!!!???? How dare you! Big Trouble goes to 11 and beyond! Big Trouble sees things no other movie can see and does things no other movie can do. I demand a proper score or you will be sent to the hell of the upside down where you will be skinned alive it’s that simple!

  4. I love this movie. The corniness is absolutely intentional; Carpenter openly admitted that he was doing an affectionate parody of action films. Jack Burton acts like he’s a traditional action star, but in reality, even though he’s the viewpoint character, he’s the comedy sidekick for most of the film. I can see how it wouldn’t necessarily be your cup of tea, but for me, it’s definitely better than a 6 out of 10.

  5. It’s a generational thing and nostalgia aside if I had watched this now having not been raised on it I would have balked at its zany 80s stylings. But it, like anything really, grows on you and is quotable as hell.

  6. good movie from russell and carpenter besides escape from ny and la and thing. favorite movie as well from both russell and carpenter

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