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Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

PG-13 | | Action, Adventure, Comedy | 2 July 1986 (USA)
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A rough-and-tumble trucker helps rescue his friend's fiance from an ancient sorcerer in a supernatural battle beneath Chinatown.

Director:

John Carpenter
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1,475 ( 372)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kurt Russell ... Jack Burton
Kim Cattrall ... Gracie Law
Dennis Dun ... Wang Chi
James Hong ... David Lo Pan
Victor Wong ... Egg Shen
Kate Burton ... Margo
Donald Li ... Eddie Lee
Carter Wong ... Thunder
Peter Kwong ... Rain
James Pax ... Lightning
Suzee Pai ... Miao Yin
Chao Li Chi ... Uncle Chu
Jeff Imada ... Needles
Rummel Mor ... Joe Lucky
Craig Ng ... One Ear
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Jack Burton's in for some serious trouble and you're in for some serious fun. See more »


Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Cantonese

Release Date:

2 July 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,723,211, 6 July 1986, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$11,100,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Production Designer John J. Lloyd designed the elaborate underground sets and re-created Chinatown with three-story buildings, roads, streetlights, sewers, and so on. This was necessary for the staging of complicated special effects and kung fu fight sequences that would have been very hard to do on location. This forced the filmmaker to shoot the film in fifteen weeks with a 25 million dollar budget. See more »

Goofs

Jack's truck has an overhead pull line for his air horn (seen on-screen when the Puma truck cuts them off). Early in the film, when Jack is pulling into the Chinese market, you can clearly see that he's *not* pulling that line when the truck's horn sounds. 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

Spoofed in Robot Chicken: Big Trouble in Little Clerks 2 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Ol' Jack always says... what the hell?
13 September 2010 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

Out of 20th Century Fox, Big Trouble in Little China is directed by John Carpenter and stars Kurt Russell, Kim Catrall, Dennis Dun, James Hong & Victor Wong. The adaptation is by W.D. Richter with the screenplay from Gary Goldman & David Z. Weinstein. Dean Cundey photographs and Alan Howarth doubles up with Carpenter for the musical score.

Truck driver Jack Burton (Russell) agrees to take his friend Wang Chi (Dun) to pick up his fiancée at the airport. Little does he know that he is about to get involved in a supernatural battle between good and evil beneath San Francisco's Chinatown district.

A box office failure on its release, and known to be the moment when John Carpenter gave up on Hollywood, Big Trouble in Little China has gathered "cult" momentum over the years and shows up rather well these days. Blending Chinese mysticism with chop-schlocky adventure, Carpenter's movie is at once daft but also a ball of energetic fun; propelled by a handsome, but inept, action hero. Carpenter had always wanted to tackle a martial arts movie, and here he gets to do it whilst laying on the comedy and playing with effects as his movie mostly comes alive in a magical underworld of monsters, magicians and sexy green eyed women.

It's evident now that the film was ahead of its time, not from a technical viewpoint, but from the point it tried to Americanise chopsocky. This is some time before Chinese style wire-work and mythology became common to Hollywood, one has to believe that Tarantino was nodding approvingly around about then. It's also worth noting that although this "American" movie has an American beefcake as its main protagonist, it's the Asian Americans who actually are the heroes of the piece, with Dun's sidekick the stand out hero as Russell's Burton bumbles his way from one sequence to the next. It was a bold move by Carpenter to structure the narrative that way, one that annoyed the executives at Fox and kept the paying public bemused. It's easy to see why the film failed, contrast it with the similarly themed Eddie Murphy movie, The Golden Child, from the same year, which was a box office success. There the public got what they wanted (or what they were used too), the standard American hero fluff where Murphy saves the day and gets the girl.

Carpenter dared to be different and had fun along the way, as did his cast. It may have taken a decade of VHS and DVD releases to prove he was right, but right he was, Big Trouble in Little China is a damn fine movie. Russell plays it meat head style, with swagger in tow and tongue stuck in cheek. Nicely toned physique for the girls to enjoy, and making vest wearing cool two years before Willis did in Die Hard. Cattrall is wonderfully alluring, red lips and green eyes shimmering bright in a world of color; and boys, look out for her wet scene, it's wolf whistle time! Dun is likable and athletic, while Hong as Lo Pan gives the action/adventure genre a truly memorable villain. The film is briskly paced and not found wanting in the set piece department either. Not all the effects are high grade, but in a film with such zestful comic book traditions at heart, it hardly matters a jot. With a great DVD package doing it justice, Carpenter's movie is now, at long last, getting the appreciative audience it deserves. Amen to that. 8/10


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