Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

Big Trouble in Little China
Directed by John Carpenter
Written by David Z. Weinstein and Gary Goldman
(number 430)

This movie is so stupid. I mean. Really, really stupid. What else can you expect from a movie about Chinese mysticism written by two Jewish guys in the eighties, though?

Once more I find myself watching a completely average movie which almost certainly got on this list for nostalgic reasons. I’m getting less enthused about continuing this list, to be honest with you. I could put up with a certain level of this kind of movie, as long as I felt there was a genre balance. If for all the dumb actioners from the eighties there were an abundance of stupid romances or musicals or natural disaster films, but the 500 list skews so hard towards war movies and these kind of eighties actioners starring men who win feisty women after rescuing them and I fail to see the appeal. I should have expected, given the skew of the Empire magazine, and therefore of the people voting but… urgh.

Synth music, rubber monsters and evil Chinese stealing women into sexual slavery… all the mystic foreigner horror stories rolled up in one movie – the Chinese can hypnotise, make magic potions, levitate, ensorcel.. everything you can imagine. It makes me feel a little better about how far Hollywood has come by now, which isn’t saying much since they just white wash everything now.

Jack is our white collar, all American dude who drives a truck (most macho profession possible? Almost?) and likes to gamble in Chinatown. It’s entirely a Kurt Russell vehicle, much like later we’d have these same movies with Bruce Willis or Keanu Reeves. It has a couple of cute moments and a couple of funny lines but overall I was bored with how predictable it was.

Jack appears to be wearing a tank top with fan art of Lo-pan on it, so… what’s that about?

The monsters are so rubbery. Maybe because I’ve been watching lots of Face Off but I just got annoyed with how little movement the hairy demon suit gave the actor, the mouth could only open a tiny bit and it was a baked in expression. The hands were totally useless, which you could see when it had to chain Gracie up and basically the actor just flapped his arms and suddenly she had manacles on. Is it too much to ask for a suit that is useable? If I was directing this movie I would’ve sent that suit back… then again a lot would be different if I was directing this movie..

Does it make me love the people? Wang is probably my favourite character, then Egg Shen (awful name) and Gracie. I don’t feel much for Jack because he’s so two dimensional. The wise cracking tough guy who just can’t commit to the girl and gets annoyed with how much he likes her.

Bechdel test: Yes, Gracie and Margo have a conversation about whether or not they have to go into the White Tigress building. Margo says something like ‘do we have to? It looks so scary, but you know me, I’ll do anything for a story!” and they have a whole scene which is generally really poorly written but hey, it’s not about a man!

Best line:

[Jack and Egg fight for control of the umbrella]
Wang Chi: A brave man likes the feel of nature on his face, Jack.
Egg Shen: Yeah, and a wise man has enough sense to get in out of the rain!

Jack Burton: Feel pretty good. I’m not, uh, I’m not scared at all. I just feel kind of… feel kind of invincible.
Wang Chi: Me, too. I got a very positive attitude about this.
Jack Burton: Good, me too.
Wang Chi: Yeah!

State of Mind: Bleeeehhh. I watched this while home sick and cranky, maybe not the best time to be forgiving but… This movie is not interesting to me. It was like watching Indiana Jones all over again but with different actors, or Enter the Dragon made with less skill. Classic Carpenter jump scare at the end, but meh. I won’t be watching this again.

Watched movie count