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Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 73,452 users  
Reviews: 306 user | 152 critic

An All-American trucker gets dragged into a centuries-old mystical battle in Chinatown.

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Title: Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Dennis Dun ...
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Carter Wong ...
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Suzee Pai ...
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Jeff Imada ...
Rummel Mor ...
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Storyline

When trucker Jack Burton agreed to take his friend Wang Chi to pick up his fiancee at the airport, he never expected to get involved in a supernatural battle between good and evil. Wang's fiancee has emerald green eyes, which make her a perfect target for an immortal sorcerer named Lo Pan and his three invincible cronies. Lo Pan must marry a girl with green eyes so he can regain his physical form. Now, Jack must save Wang's fiancee from Lo Pan and his henchmen, and win back his stolen truck. But how can he defeat an enemy who has no body? Written by Mr. X

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's all in the reflexes! See more »


Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

2 July 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China  »

Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$11,100,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Right before the end credits when Kurt Russell's character, Jack Burton, is driving his truck and talking on his CB Radio, he says, "You just listen to the old Pork-Chop Express here now and take his advice on a dark and stormy night when the lightning's crashing and the thunder's rollin' and the rain's coming down..." paying homage to the names of the 3 Storms, Lo Pan's bodyguards. See more »

Goofs

When Egg serves his magic potion to Jack and the rest of his warriors in Lopan's bar, you can see that his goblet has ice all over its bottom half, showing that they used dry ice to make the goblets steam and bubble. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Pinstripe lawyer: What I'd like to do today is get your version of what happened.
Egg Shen: Oh, you mean the truth.
Pinstripe lawyer: Of course. First, just state your name and your occupation for the record.
Egg Shen: Oh, Egg Shen. Bus driver.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Shoot the Hero (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Big Trouble in Little China
Written by John Carpenter
Performed by The Coupe de Villes
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Do you believe in magic?
31 August 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Despite his recent slide into mediocrity, John Carpenter is responsible for what could be termed some of the biggest cult movies of the 1980's. Following his resounding success with Halloween he went on to direct a number of quirky yet excellent movies that began to tail of toward the end of the 80's with the release of such dross as Prince of Darkness. Carpenters movies are probably some of the most under appreciated pictures of recent cinema history on a commercial level, and none more so than perhaps one of his finest, the delightfully absurd action movie Big Trouble in Little China.

The plot is as daft as they come. Loud mouthed truck driver Jack Burton (played by Carpenter's long time collaborator Kurt Russell) arrives in San Francisco's Chinatown where he agrees to help out old friend Wang (played by Denis Dun) by driving him to the airport to pick up his green eyed fiancé. Things quickly go south however when a band of street punks kidnap the girl and the motley duo set off in pursuit. The pair soon find themselves caught in the middle of gang war that takes on a decidedly mythical bent and are forced to flee while Jack's truck is stolen. All this occurs within the first fifteen to twenty minutes.

If there's one thing you can say about Big Trouble, it's that it's action packed. The plot (such as it is) moves at an incredible pace and the film rarely slows to take breath as it rolls from one action set piece to the next. In such movies, normally the dialogue, and subsequently the acting suffer from a lack of any real attention. Not so here. Carpenter balances everything so perfectly that it's a wonder his career took such a slide. Although the actual story may be incredibly absurd and at times suffers from some rather obvious gaps of logic, the dialogue never fails to sparkle. Russell gives his very best wise ass shtick as Burton, the confused have a go hero who's so out of his depth he should really be fish bait, while Dun excels with a character who is consistently more heroic and capable than the lead. Another wonderful turn comes from an appearance by a young Kim Cattrall (of Sex and the City fame) as Gracie Law, a downmarket lawyer with an ability to talk at incredible speed. Some of the scenes between these three are pure comic genius, as Dun and Cattrall rattle out plot information at a rapid staccato pace while an increasingly bewildered Russell tries desperately to keep up.

Despite such positive remarks, Big Trouble was perhaps one of Carpenter's biggest commercial flops. While many of the movie's fans find this difficult to understand I do not. The reason for its failure is really incredibly simple. In terms of its style and the underlying comedy behind the piece, Carpenter's loving part tribute, part send up of all things Kung Fu was way ahead of the curve in every important respect. Take the relationship between our 'hero' Jack and his 'sidekick' Wang. The true dynamic of this relationship is a wonderfully post modern slant on the cliché buddy dynamic that existed in the 80's and it was done long before post modernist humour became truly fashionable in films (the most obvious example of post modern piece of cinema being Scream). Despite receiving star billing, Russell's Jack is actually a sidekick to Wang. While Wang has the knowledge, the skill and the courage to make him a true classic hero figure, Jack lags behind, being brash, ignorant and of little actual use in a fight. Similarly the action, although remarkably quaint by today's standards in both its look and execution, is a surprisingly accurate foreshadow of the current Hollywood move toward the more graceful, balletic chaos exhibited by movies like The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Ultimately Big Trouble in Little China is a movie that survived thanks to the home video market and for that we can only be grateful. While its looks may have aged, its sense of humour and style is as fresh today as the day it first rolled out in cinemas. In short, it's pure escapist magic.


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