Is Big Trouble in Little China (hereafter BTLC) the greatest film ever made? More than likely. But don’t take my word for it. There’s a lot of bullshit in film nowadays. Sadly I live in a time now where my kids will get to be floored by Jurassic Park and then see a chick defeat Velociraptors with gymnastics in the sequel, and Vin Disel defeat physics by being more fast and more furious. Like four times in a row. So it is important I feel, that a complete and concise record is kept of a film made back when action films were great. And what better barometer is there for how great a film is, than how much Chinese black magic it contains?
What is BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA about?
When Jack Burton wins a wager against his long time friend Wang, Wang explains that he doesn’t have the cash on hand and he’ll pay Jack later because he needs to go pick up his bride-to-be at the airport. Seeing as how Jack wants his money as soon as possible, he offers to give Wang a ride to the airport. Unfortunately for the both of them (and pay attention to this part because it is dynamite) Wang’s girlfriend is kidnapped because she is a Chinese woman with green eyes, and in order for an immortal sorcerer named David Lo Pan to lift the 2000 year old curse upon him, he must marry her. Now it’s up to Jack Burton, Wang, and a plucky female lawyer to overcome Lo Pan and his three weather-controlling henchmen and save the day!
Who are the main characters?
Kurt Russell plays wise-cracking all-American hero truck Driver, Jack Burton. The greatest movie protagonist ever written. He spends his time complaining about shit on his truck radio, driving his truck, and hanging out in his truck. He doesn’t get out much. But when he does he goes to Chinatown or to the docks, where for some reason he likes to play gambling games with Chinese immigrants who speak little to no English, and are unbeatable at gambling games. He is also an idiot.
Signature quote: “Everybody relax. I’m here.”
Motivation: To get his truck back. And then later, to nail Kim Cattrall. But mostly the truck.
Past accomplishments: A lot of people my age don’t know much about Kurt Russell, save for the fact that he is responsible for bringing Kate Hudson into the world and more recently, got his ass handed to him by a team of chicks in DEATH PROOF.
Actually, let’s do this:
An Abridged Kurt Russell Filmography
Tango and Cash – Russell stars opposite Sly Stallone, as Lieutenant Gabriel Cash, pugnacious and rebellious narcotics officer with a penchant for one-liners and being awesome. He also hooks up with a pre-Desperative Housewives, pre-desperate as fuck Teri Hatcher.
Escape from LA – Here, Russell plays Snake Plissken, the only man on the planet who can save the President, after he crashes into dystopian LA, now a super max penitentiary housing the most dangerous people on the planet. All you need to know is that Russell wears an eye-patch in this one, so you know you’re pretty much guaranteed an Oscar-caliber good time.
Backdraft – Never saw this, but it appears a Baldwin brother has second billing so I’m pretty confident I didn’t miss anything.
The Thing – Russell vs. Alien. Don’t think we need to go further on this.
Stargate – I’ll be honest, don’t really remember this film at all. But I do remember there was a chick who I knew in high school who just would not ever shut up. And I told her she had a mouth like Stargate and she never spoke to me again.
Tombstone – After making a career and life out of being an awesome dude and a badass, Russell was given the role of historically awesome dude and badass; Wyatt Earp. The film traces the events leading to and occurring after the gunfight at the OK Corral. Starring opposite Russell was so awesome that Val Kilmer managed to rouse his soon-to-be-hilariously-obese corpse for one last performance of a phenomenal magnitude that pretty much ended up being the greatest work that he ever did.
Dennis Dun plays Wang Chi, a secret martial arts genius who after spending a fair amount of the film’s duration losing his shit at the mere sight of Chinese triads, by the end of the movie finds that he can backflip like a god damn Chinese acrobat on acid, and perform unbeatable martial arts like he was the secret child of Bruce Lee and Voltron.
Signature quote: “Don’t give up, Jack!”
Motivation: To save his seemingly mute girlfriend, Miao Yin from the clutches of the evil Lo Pan. And then when he realises he knows kung fu, to do lots of kung fu.
Past accomplishments: The world knows little of Dennis Dun before he showed up in BTLC. And when I say the world, I mean IMDb. Don’t get me wrong, I really want to write a good, well researched article here but if you think I’m going to do any more research into this than typing his name into Google, well you’re going to be disappointed. So…
Speculative past accomplishments: Dennis Dun studied at the Chinese University of Acting. He spent his youth working at a restaurant famed for it’s egg foo young and dim sum. Once he saved enough money to follow his dreams of acting in big Hollywood productions, he stowed away on a magical oak ship that took him to Shang Tsung’s hidden island where he would hang on, Mortal Kombat is playing on television at the moment and I’m not sure but there is a chance I may have lost my train of thought.
Kim Cattrall plays lawyer Gracie Law, who suspects something fishy is going on in Chinatown and wants to get to the bottom of it. The real conflict she faces in the film is both hiding and futilely attempting to deny her bourgeoining feelings for Jack Burton. Also, trying to pull off that horrendous cardigan.
Signature quote: “Don’t worry! It’s just me… Gracie Law!”
Motivation: To figure out what’s reeeeally going on. As I wrote earlier. I’ll be honest, I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to make this paragraph any different to that one above. Unless I just write about how I don’t know how I’m going to make it different. You can say what you want about my article choices, but I think we all have to agree I’m a god damn professional.
Past accomplishments: A lot of people forget that Cattrall was in POLICE ACADEMY. Mainly because she was utterly and completely forgettable in it. Before that she was a model. What for? I don’t know, who am I, her agent?
And James Hong plays David Lo Pan. He’s the best. But more about him later.
What is so great about BTLC?
There is nothing that BTLC does not have. There is nothing that you could want from a film upon which this movie does not deliver. It is not so much a piece of cinema as it is a piece of history. There are monsters, one-liners, kung-fu battles, gangsters, triads, 2000 year old Chinese sorcerors, dudes that control the elements with childlike recklessness, a room with hanging corpses called “The Hell of Upside Down Sinners”, magic potions, a dude called ‘Egg’, a rocket launcher, ninja stars, and a medieval hand grenade.
Is David Lo Pan the greatest movie villain of all time?
The obvious answer here is yes. Let’s look at the facts:
- He is Asian
- He, at his own discretion, is capable of transforming into an immortal seven foot tall giant that wields occult black magic like you or I would drunkenly wield a water pistol, and with the kind of accuracy a drunk shows a urinal
- Many thousands of years old
- Able to pass through walls at will
- Dispassionate killing machine
- General apathy towards everything that is not his immediate goal
- Head of the National Orient Bank, so obviously a baller in his free time
Of course, there’s his starring role in what is widely considered the greatest nefarious plot explanation scene in cinema history:
What happened to Kim Cattrall?
I can’t think of many instances of more heinous career decisions but they do exist. Cuba Gooding Jr won an Oscar for JERRY MAGUIRE and then played a supporting role in Oscar-winning AS GOOD AS IT GETS, and then parlayed this into starring in CHILL FACTOR opposite Skeet Ulrich. Gerard Butler made 300 and then every single fucking thing he made afterwards. So it’s not unprecedented.
However, to be totally fair to Cattrall, BTLC was a financial disaster, earning less than $11 million at the box office (against a budget of over $25 million), and causing a breakdown in director John Carpenter, who became so disillusioned with Hollywood that he considered he may never make another film again. He did of course, because the bottom line is money is money and film directors get pussy for miles. But it makes some degree of sense to understand that Cattrall figured making good movies was fools’ game. So this happened:
I’ve been having sex with various girls for a while now so I have of course seen more Sex and the City than I would have liked to. That’s just how the world works in its current iteration. It is a barter system that I think we all accept. One summer when I was single I saw 50 FIRST DATES five fucking times. So I’ve seen enough of this shit for me to feel it is well within my right to say that everything this series stands for is terrible. Everything. For a sexually active male there’s not much worse than watching three hags drag their gaping vaginas around Manhattan for forty five minutes at a time, trawling for penis and pondering the eternal philosophical enigmas of “which shoes go with that dress?” or “how can I fuck this dude on the first date without looking like a slut?”
You’ll note that I said three hags and not four. I can handle the brunette one. Charlotte? She’s ok. But the lesbian with the short hair almost single-handedly ruins the reputation of redheads the world over, Sarah Jessica Parker looks like a horse that has not aged well and by this point it is generally accepted that Kim Cattrall’s face is held together mainly by Botox, silly putty and sheer optimism.
Will there be a sequel to BTLC?
Highly and sadly unlikely. As mentioned earlier, the film was a financial disaster at release. It has since gone on to become a rightful cult classic and generally accepted masterpiece. Back in the early 90s it was mooted that a BTLC TV series would go into production and a script was actually both commissioned and written. Obviously, the same universe that showers money and hookers on mongoloid adulterers like Justin Timberlake didn’t see fit to grant a sequel or spin-off TV series to the greatest film ever made, but in hindsight it was probably for the better. There was no way an actor interested in starring in a made for TV series based on a massively unsuccessful movie from the eighties, would ever be able to do justice to the role of Jack Burton. Daniel Day Lewis couldn’t do justice to the role of Jack Burton.
If you guys have any more questions regarding BTLC and the endless string of erections you’re sure to experience in its afterglow, then please feel free to get in touch with more. Preferably about the movie, less so about the other thing.