Big Trouble in Little China (1986 film)

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Promotional image for Big Trouble in Little China (1986 film)...

Summary

Chinese black magic, monsters and ghosts, sorcery, the six-demon bag: wind, fire and all that kind of thing! Hard-boiled truck driver Jack Burton gets caught in a bizarre conflict within, and underneath, San Francisco's Chinatown, where an ancient Chinese prince/Chinatown crime lord has kidnapped a beautiful green-eyed woman, the fiancee to Jack's best friend. Jack must help his friend rescue the girl before the evil Lo Pan uses her to break the ancient curse that keeps him a fleshless and immortal spirit.

Details

  • Release Date: 1986
  • Country/Language: USA, English
  • Genres/Technical: Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Horror, Comedy
  • Setting: Pulp Cthulhu ("Chinatown" neighborhood of San Francisco, California)
  • Runtime: 1 hr 39 min
  • Starring: Dennis Dun, Kurt Russell
  • Director: John Carpenter
  • Writer: W. D. Richter, Gary Goldman, David Z. Weinstein
  • Producer/Production Co: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
  • View Trailer: (link)
  • IMDb page: (link)
  • Wikipedia page: (link)

Ratings

MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: PG-13 (Violence and gore, mild Adult Content)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • S____ (One Tentacle: Debateably Lovecraftian; has almost no direct connection to Lovecraft's work)

This film is not particularly Lovecraftian, though the setting, with its hardboiled investigator heroes, "Yellow Peril" tong gangs, kung-fu sorcery, undying ghoul wizards, strange rituals and cults, and weird underground Dreamlands and "Chinese hells" full of strange monsters could easily be adapted to Pulp Cthulhu, and, with only minor Chinatown-themed changes, Call of Cthulhu cults, monsters, tomes, etc. would easily fit right into the setting.

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.

Reviews

Review Links:

  • Graeme Clark at The Spinning Image (7/10 Stars) (link) - "The villains are a colorful bunch. ...a selection of rubber monsters and you have an appealing air of weirdness..."
  • Michael Den Boer at 10,000 Bullets (link) - "From its opening moments, right on up until its unforgettable climax Big Trouble in Little China is a highly entertaining film that like fine wine gets better with age and subsequent viewings."
  • Roger Ebert at Roger Ebertdotcom (2 Stars) (link) - "It may not be true that Chinatowns are honeycombed with subterranean throne rooms, but isn't it kind of fun once in a while to pretend?"
  • Marty McKee at Johnny LaRue's Crane Shots (link) - "An imaginative adventure film packed with funny lines, amusing performances, and colorful visual effects supervised by Richard Edlund (Star Wars)... ...plays like a true American original, despite its cribbing from Asian culture. Carpenter packs the film with sensational action and martial arts sequences..."
  • J.P. Roscoe at Basement Rejects (8/10) (link) - "Directed by John Carpenter, Big Trouble in Little China is a very odd movie. ... The movie can’t really be easily classified. I would say it is an action comedy, but there are also a lot of sci-fi and fantasy to it as well. ... Big Trouble in Little China is a fun ride that can entertain fans of a lot of genres. The movie has a crazy feel to it and it is too bad that it didn’t do better after its initial release because I would have enjoyed seeing the characters return for another adventure."
  • Richard Scheib at the Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review (3/5 Stars) (link) - "It is by no means what one might call a great film but it entertains considerably and is certainly not the failure that a lot of people who lambaste John Carpenter like to call it."
  • Graham - This movie aside being a lot of fun, is an incredibly rare thing, Hollywood taking something from another culture (Hong Kong Action/Fantasy movies) and doing it right. This is another of those films that presents the idea of a rubber reality, with strange things living alongside the everyday.

Synopsis

 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)
Hard-boiled truck driver Jack Burton gets caught in a bizarre conflict within, and underneath, San Francisco's Chinatown, where an ancient Chinese prince and Chinatown crime lord has kidnapped a beautiful green-eyed woman, who is the fiancee to Jack's best friend. Jack must help his friend rescue the girl before the evil Lo Pan uses her to break the ancient curse that keeps him a fleshless and immortal spirit.


Notes

Comments, Trivia, Dedication

  • This film is not particularly Lovecraftian, though the setting, with its hardboiled investigator heroes, "Yellow Peril" tong gangs, kung-fu sorcery, undying ghoul wizards, strange rituals and cults, and weird underground Dreamlands and "Chinese hells" full of strange monsters could easily be adapted to Pulp Cthulhu, and, with only minor Chinatown-themed changes, Call of Cthulhu cults, monsters, tomes, etc. would easily fit right into the setting.


Associated Mythos Elements