Big Trouble in Little China

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Chuck Mayer, Apr 11, 2006.

  1. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    Yes, it's old (two decades in fact). Yes, it didn't do so well in theaters. And yes, it's become a cult film.

    It was on Fox Movie Channel this weekend (in widescreen, thanks Fox) while my folks were visiting. About 5 minutes in, they were still intensely interested, though it was late at night. We didn't watch the whole thing, but what shocked me is that THEY COULD HAVE. My wife as well.

    I thought about the film, having seen it countless times myself, and I realized a) the film was about a decade ahead of it's time and b) it's probably one of the most consistently entertaining films ever made. Within the first twenty minutes, we had screwball comedy, friendly banter, trucking, a gunsight, a martial arts gang fight, and magic. TWENTY MINUTES in.

    I simply wanted to see what other members think about this film. I know it's a cult favorite, and I expect many here are fans of it...but why? What does your S.O. think? Or your kids? Have you shown it to them?

    Why is Big Trouble in Little China (one of the 5 best movie titles ever) so much better than 99% of what passes for adventure these days [​IMG]

    "We really shook the pillars of heaven, didn't we, Wang?"
     
  2. Raasean Asaad

    Raasean Asaad Supporting Actor

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    It's campy, its funny and in some cases even profound. It's got a great cast and even better is that the entire family can watch it. Me and my kids love to pop some popcorn and watch it.
     
  3. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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    I just watched my dvd a couple of weeks ago and was reminded of just how good it is. It tells an inventive, visually stimulating story with likable characters and memorable dialogue. Seems like a simple formula but obviously it's not so easy to duplicate [​IMG]
     
  4. Shawn_KE

    Shawn_KE Screenwriter

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    Why is it so good? Cause Jack Burton says so!
     
  5. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    I watch the DVD all the time.

    It is campy, fun...it has a genuine enthusiasm about it. Even though it is goofy, it plays it straight - Jack really IS like that. The characters are solidly written.

    Man, it's just a solid film that isn't just about stunts and action. It's about story and character and entertainment.
     
  6. Brett_M

    Brett_M Screenwriter

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    Totally awesome. One of my all-time faves. Great cast and the action is fantastic. Such a funny script, too. John Carpenter had it firing on all cylinders. Good point about the family viewing -- it's campy enough to not induce nightmares.

    I have the 2-disc edition -- lots of cool extras. I might have to give it a spin this weekend.
     
  7. Steve_Knutzen

    Steve_Knutzen Screenwriter

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    To borrow a line from Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, "It's a Western, but it's an Eastern."
    This movie has great characters, frightening monsters (I used to have nightmares about the thing that takes Gracie when I was a kid), infinitely quotable dialog and a fun story. I agree it was a little ahead of its time and could have been a more mainstream hit in a different era. Of all of Carpenter's work, this is my favorite which is saying a lot. The 2-Disc SE is one of the first DVDs I bought and still holds up.
    "Remember what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like that: 'Have ya paid your dues, Jack?' 'Yessir, the check is in the mail.'"

    "Ok, you people! Sit tight, hold the fort and keep the home fires burning. And if we're not back by dawn... call the president."

    "May the wings of liberty never lose a feather."
     
  8. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    Certainly the cast is on the game. Carpenter had a clear vision, and they bought into it. All of the performances are pitch-perfect, and has there ever been a villain as cool as Lo Pan [​IMG] I submit that there has not. Sauron...bitch. Vader...bitch. Hannibal...bitch. Bill the Butcher...ok, he's awesome, but he's no Lo Pan.

    The dialog just sparkles at all the right times, and JC's score always works.

    I agree it's campy, but even taking that away...this is still miles better than it's equivalent today.

    The glue that holds it all together on-screen is (surprise) Kurt Russell. He totally got his role, and went after it with abandon.

    I guess I was just surprised at the quality. And my folks' reaction. I see the film through rose-colored glasses. But taking them off for a second...the film deserves the attention and adoration. It's a desert island film.

    Take care,
    Chuck
     
  9. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    "It is like a porn movie, but without the sex." (Talking about the dialog.) No, it isn't one of her favorites.

    I wouldn't say BTiLC was ahead of its time, since they don't really make movies like that now. The low budget cheezy fun film seemed to have died out in the 80s. Now, everything needs to be supersized. The film that comes closest to those films today was "Pirates Of The Carribean".

    Jason
     
  10. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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    In all seriousness, James Hong is an excellent and underused actor. I always like seeing him in stuff.

    I don't know if I would agree that the film is campy exactly. Camp to me implies that nothing in the story really matters, that everything is a joke and the characters are all aware of that. I see movies like this as very playful; it's not entirely serious but the characters still retain that fear of death that you need for good adventure stories.

    Haven't screened the film for my fiancee yet but she's liked every other John Carpenter film I've shown her, from Assault on Precinct 13 to The Thing, so maybe she'd dig it.
     
  11. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Producer

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    I agree totally Chuck. The movie was ahead of its time. Kurt Russell owned his role. A plain fun ole movie.
     
  12. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Brilliant!!!
     
  13. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    I'm sure most of you have listened to the commentary, but it is worth mentioning that Russell and Carpenter agree that Jack Burton could not be cast in a film today. No star would play him and no studio would fund him. He's a true bumbling hero.

    And, his 'home fires burning' speech is, I believe, improvised. And, Russell was running a serious (like 103) fever when they did that scene. He rules. [​IMG]
     
  14. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    How badly do we need to see Russell and Bruce Campbell in a film together before it's too late??
     
  15. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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    They were in Escape From L.A. together and that film didn't turn out too well.
     
  16. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Hmmm...I own the 2-disc BTLC, but I've never watched it. Still in shrinkwrap. Perhaps I should break it open.
     
  17. Darcy Hunter

    Darcy Hunter Stunt Coordinator

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    I know what you mean by the 80's low budget cheese, but I wouldn't really lump BTiLC in with those type of movies. I remember at the time it had a pretty big budget, with some top notch effects (supervised by Richard Edlund and Boss Films). This was Carpenter's first foray into the world of large scale film making, and it was the box office failure of this film that drove him back into the world of low budget movies (They Live, Prince of Darkness).

    I loved this movie the first time I saw it in the theater as a 13 year old kid, and it does still hold together really well. This was also written by W.D. Richter, whose The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is another bizarre mash-up of different genres, but that one is a little too cultish for the main stream.
     
  18. Ocean Phoenix

    Ocean Phoenix Supporting Actor

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    They were also in Sky High, although I don't think they had any scenes together (I haven't seen the movie). I don't understand all the hate that Escape From L.A. gets. I found it FAR superior to Escape From New York. It had better special effects and a better story. I've never seen Big Trouble In Little China. This thread makes me feel encouraged to check it out. I read a bad review of it, and that killed my interest in it, but I like most of the John Carpenter movies that I've seen. I loved Halloween, They Live, and Star Man, but didn't like Escape From New York and The Thing.
     
  19. Doug Miller

    Doug Miller Supporting Actor

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    Saw this movie in the the theater -- twice! [​IMG]

    Doug
     
  20. Hunter P

    Hunter P Screenwriter

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    One other thing: underneath that campy fun is some really good Kung Fu choreography. Take a look again at the alley fight and the climatic end battle. There were some good moves in there!

    Right up there with my other dirty secret: Drive (1997). I just received the director's cut DVD in the mail for this bad boy.[​IMG] Some people have called it the best Hong Kong movie made outside of Hong Kong.[​IMG]
     

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