Big Trouble in Little China

May 13, 2003

The last time that I ever went to the movies with my dad was to go see Big Trouble in Little China. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was July 4, 1986 – a Sunday, if I remember correctly. We saw the movie and then went home to shoot off fireworks. Almost immediately, we managed to set the neighbor’s yard on fire. Gallantly, my father hosed down the neighbor’s yard, but he wasn’t quick enough…

It was a sad, sad day that ripped our family apart. My mother forbade fireworks for years after that. What? You thought something bad happened? My dad is still alive and well – he just doesn’t like going to movies. Why should he? He’s got the Western Channel. The neighbor’s property was already well on it’s way to the full-on Sanford and Son glory that it has achieved, nearly 17 years later. I doubt they even noticed.

Even so, I never watched Big Trouble in Little China again, that is, until last Saturday night. Hmmm…it was not quite the masterpiece of cinema that I remember watching when I was ten years old. By and large, it’s still John Carpenter’s best film to date. According to my husband, it’s “…John Wayne meets Hong Kong Phooey.” Not a bad description for what is widely considered by my generation to be one of the greatest guy movies ever.

Kurt Russell manages an interesting performance as Trucker Jack Burton, who must thwart the mysterious Lo Pan’s plans to become flesh. Well, it would be a piece of cake if he didn’t have to fight off warring Chinese gangs, three invincible henchmen, seven foot muppets and Lo Pan himself.

Lassie, er, Kim Cattrall is Russell’s foil, love interest and general pain in the ass. Is it me, or is her head WAY too big for her body? Is it any wonder that he leaves her Casablanca-style at the end? Who would want to spend the rest of their life with a walking, talking bobblehead?

I remember feeling seriously endangered after watching this film. Having green eyes, as I do, is it any wonder that I was paranoid? Being part-Chinese definitely didn’t help either. I was convinced that the next time my grandmother took my sister and I to Chinatown, I would be whisked away through an underground passage to be the bride of an undead sorcerer. Unfortunately, it was all wishful thinking. The scariest thing about Houston’s Chinatown is the traffic.

Though most have seen this one, I can definitely recommend additional viewings. It’s excellent for MST3K-ing. In fact, It’s almost impossible to watch without talking back to the screen.

Year – 1986
Rating – PG-13
Runtime – 99 minutes
Genre – Action
Director(s) – John Carpenter
Writer(s) – Gary Goldman, David Z. Weinstein
Actor(s) – Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Victor Wong
BOB Rating – Three BOBs
Favorite Quote – "Son of a bitch must pay!" - Jack Burton (Kurt Russell)