Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

2013 #22
John Carpenter | 96 mins | TV | 2.35:1 | USA / English | 15 / PG-13

Big Trouble in Little ChinaKurt Russell gets embroiled in a fever dream of mystical Chinese tomfoolery in San Francisco’s Chinatown in this cult ’80s adventure from writer/director John Carpenter.

Released as a mildly-edited PG in UK cinemas but afforded a semi-uncut 15 on video, it consequently passed me by in my childhood video rental days, which I think would’ve been the best time to see it. It doesn’t make much sense, it’s scrappy around the edges, but at times it exhibits a kind of loose fun and modest excitement. I can see why it appeals to those who saw it at the right age.

3 out of 5

In the interests of completing my ever-growing backlog of reviews, I decided to post ‘drabble reviews’ of a few films. In the future I may update with something longer, but if I don’t, at least there’s something here for posterity.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, a drabble is a complete piece of writing exactly 100 words long.

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3 thoughts on “Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

  1. I watched this back on its first cinema run and must have been one of the few that championed it. Just a pity it didn’t lead to other Jack Burton adventures- Carpenter and Russell could have given Indy a run for his money. Thought it was great fun and wildly original. Maybe too original as it failed to find its audience. Over the years trends and action/martial arts movies have caught up and passed BTILC by (note how some of the climatic fight stunts predate The Matrix stuff without any cgi enhancements), no doubt leaving you somewhat nonplussed by it now. But I assure you if you saw it back in 1986 and looked at the films around back then, you might have felt different. I thought it was slick, funny, action-packed, weird… I agree it may not have aged too well as I don’t watch it too often now, I’d certainly like to pick up the Blu-ray someday see if it recaptures fond memories of it at the cinema and later on VHS. Indeed one of my favourite treats in the past few years was discovering the complete soundtrack from La La Land. Always loved that music score…

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    • I realise now I didn’t say it in my review, but I agree that its ‘problems’ largely stem from ageing. It’s the kind of adventure/fantasy/comedy — as you say, in the Indy mould — that Hollywood has really been honing and perfecting (and, in the past few years, ruining) ever since.

      I suspect if I’d seen it 20 years ago when I was watching most of the other big ’80s action/adventure films, I may well have a wholly different view — there are numerous films I remember fondly from my childhood that I’m sure are equally flawed.

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