Big Trouble in Little China (1986) starring Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun, James Hong, Victor Wong, Suzee Pai, Chao Li Chi directed by John Carpenter Movie Review

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)   3/53/53/53/53/5

James Hong as David Lo Pan in Big Trouble in Little China

Russell's Green Eyed Girl

I am probably in the minority when it comes to John Carpenter's "Big Trouble in Little China" because whilst it's entertaining with its rollercoaster ride of action, adventure and comedy I also find it a little dull. The trouble is that I like the idea that beneath China Town there is another world of tunnels and temples and a mystical deity who needs to marry a green-eyed woman to become human again but then I get bored by the repetitiveness of it as it becomes one long chase movie where our hero embarks on one comical adventure after another. All of which is strange because in a way "Big Trouble in Little China" is similar to "Romancing the Stone" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" with it's action, adventure story but something about it stops it being anything more than just entertaining in an average way.

Jack Burton (Kurt Russell - Escape from New York), a smart alec truck driver finds his life turned upside down when his Wang Chi's (Dennis Dun) fiancee is kidnapped. Begrudgingly coming to the rescue, Jack finds himself deep beneath San Francisco's Chinatown, in a mystical world ruled by the evil Lo Pan (James Hong - Airplane!), a 2000-year-old magician. Discovering that Lo Pan has kidnapped the girl because she has green-eyes and is the final step for him to become mortal Jack and his friends must battle Lo Pan and his forces before it's too late.

Kim Cattrall and Kurt Russell in Big Trouble in Little China

So as already mentioned I like the idea of this immortal sorcerer wanting to become human again and I also like the whole idea that beneath the surface of China Town is this complete other world. And for about the first 30 - 40 minutes I was really enjoying what John Carpenter was delivering with "Big Trouble in Little China". I enjoyed the introduction to the main characters as well as the introduction to the other world as Jack Burton witnesses fights, the 3 Storms and the evil Lo Pan. But then "Big Trouble in Little China" started to lose me because it basically becomes one long chase movie with one adventure after another as Jack and his friends try to rescue a couple of women from the evil Lo Pan. For me it became repetitive with one fight scene after another and whilst there was narrative to explain the whole Lo Pan thing it was boring.

Despite this, despite the fact that I found myself checking the time to see how much longer there was left the action is good. The initial fight sequence between two rival religious groups is effective and the special effects of the 3 Storms as well as Lo Pan are surprisingly good considering when "Big Trouble in Little China" was made. And I was just as impressed by the sets, be it on the surface in China Town or below the surface in the tunnels and temples. In fact whilst reminding me of "Temple of Doom" the action which sees Jack and his friends trying to make their way through these caverns is some of the most entertaining. To be honest if it wasn't so repetitive I would have enjoyed the action all the more especially with the comedy element of it.

The comedy of "Big Trouble in Little China" really works the best when it comes from Kurt Russell as Jack playing him as this slightly grumpy, womanizing hero. It may all be very similar to what Michael Douglas did in "Romancing the Stone" but Kurt Russell pulls it off and has great comic timing with his co-stars especially with Dennis Dun who plays Wang Chi. And to be honest for me Kurt Russell is one of the best things about "Big Trouble in Little China" as whilst Kim Cattrall is amusing and attractive she ends up also being a little annoying or at least her character does.

What this all boils down to is that for me "Big Trouble in Little China" is entertaining but not to the point that it gets me excited. The trouble is that whilst Kurt Russell is good and the whole idea is also good it ends up being very repetitive as it becomes one long chase movie, a rollercoaster ride of action, adventure and comedy. But whilst I'm not wowed by "Big Trouble in Little China" there are many who are and if all you want is a fun 80s action, adventure romp then I am sure you won't be disappointed.