Truck driver Jack Burton arrives in Chinatown, San Francisco, and goes to the airport with his Chinese friend Wang Chi to welcome his green-eyed fiancée Miao Yin who is arriving from China. However she is kidnapped on the arrival by a Chinese street gang and Jack and Wang chase the group. Soon they learn that the powerful evil sorcerer called David Lo Pan, who has been cursed more than two thousand years ago to exist without physical body, needs to marry a woman with green eyes to retrieve his physical body and Miao is the chosen one. Jack and Wang team-up with the lawyer Gracie Law, the bus driver and sorcerer apprentice Egg Shen and their friends and embark in a great adventure in the underground of Chinatown, where they face a world of magicians and magic, monsters and martial arts fighters.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The first version of the screenplay was written by first-time screenwriters Gary Goldman and David Z. Weinstein. Goldman had been inspired by a new wave of martial arts films that had "all sorts of weird actions and special effects, shot against this background of Oriental mysticism and modern sensibilities". They had written a western, originally set in the 1880s, with Jack Burton as a cowboy who rides into town. Goldman and Weinstein envisioned combining Chinese fantasy elements with the western. They submitted the script to TAFT Entertainment Pictures executive producers Paul Monash and Keith Barish during the summer of 1982. Monash bought their script, and had them do at least one re-write, but still did not like the results. He remembers, "The problems came largely from the fact it was set in turn-of-the-century San Francisco, which affected everything-style, dialogue, action". Goldman rejected a request by 20th Century Fox for a re-write that asked for major alterations. He was angered when the studio wanted to update it to a contemporary setting. The studio then removed the writers from the project. However, they still wanted credit for their contributions. The studio brought in screenwriter W.D. Richter to extensively re-write the script, as he felt that the Wild West and fantasy elements didn't work together. The screenwriter modernized everything. Almost everything in the original script was discarded, except for Lo Pan's story. Richter realized that "what it needed wasn't a re-write, but a complete overhaul. It was a dreadful screenplay. This happens often when scripts are bought, and there's no intention that the original writers will stay on". He wrote his own draft in ten weeks. Goldman contacted Richter and suggested that he should not work on the project. Richter told him, "I'm sorry the studio doesn't want to go forward with you guys, but my turning it down, is not going to get you the job. They'll just hire someone else". Fox wanted to deny Goldman and Weinstein writing credit, and eliminated their names from press releases They wanted only Richter to have credit. In March 1986, the Writers Guild of America, west determined that "written by" credit would go to Goldman and Weinstein, based on the WGA screenwriting credit system which protects original writers. However, Richter did get an "adaptation by" credit for his work on the script. John Carpenter was disappointed that Richter did not get a proper screenwriting credit because of the ruling. Carpenter made his own additions to Richter's rewrites, which included strengthening the Gracie Law role and linking her to Chinatown, removing a few action sequences due to budgetary restrictions and eliminating material deemed offensive to Chinese Americans. See more »
In the deleted/extended scenes on the DVD, as Jack's truck pushes the car into the water, one shot shows the car driver's window is open. The next shot shows it is closed. See more »
The UK cinema version was passed as PG, with a cut made to Kurt Russell's line of 'Fuck It!". The 15-rated video version restored the profanity, but was cut by 9 secs with edits made to the fight between the clans. The 2002 DVD release features the uncut version with all cuts waived by the BBFC. See more »
If you`ve ever heard of the director John Carpenter, you`ll be familiar with his works (of art), like Hallowe`en, Escape From New York, Assault On Precient 13, The Thing, They Live, and this movie, a mid 80`s classic starring none other than Carpenter`s favourite front man, Kurt Russell. Set in Chinatown, Los Angeles, its a modern day fable of good versus evil, Chinese black magic, the hero storms the castle type affair. Russell plays Jack Burton, a wise cracking long distance truck triver and all American hero, passing through Chinatown on some business. After a card game with old friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun), Wang (now penniless thanks to Burton`s good fortune) pursuades Jack to drive him to the airport, to pick up his childhood sweetheart, a girl Wang has not seen since they were children. Its here the story begins, as Mao Yin, Wang`s girlfriend, is captured by a mysterious gang. The two form a pact to rescue the girl from the clutches of the evil Lo Pan, former crimelord of Chinatown, a myth who has apparently lived to the age of almost 200, with a little help from some black magic.
Thats it, I`m saying no more, cos I don`t want to spoil it. You`ve probably seen the movie anyway.
Its hard to pick a favourite John Carpenter film, very hard, but this one has it all. Its a great action movie, a great comedy, an original story, great lines, and even a love story, a perfect blend of what big screen entertainment should be. Its strange though, that the ending was left so open, begging for a sequel that was never made.
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