Big Trouble in Little China (1986) – John Carpenter

I love rolling out with Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) and the Pork Chop Express. From the moment I saw this Carpenter film on the big screen, I knew I would love this movie for the rest of my life. And I’ve yet to be proven wrong on that count.

There was a time when I worked in a video store, and my co-worker and I would put this on every time we worked together. We knew the lines backwards and forwards, and always had a great time with it.

A b-movie marriage of American humour, and Easter mysticism and mythology, the story follows trucker, Burton, and his best friend, Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) as they find themselves on a mission to recover Wang’s newly arrived in America, and kidnapped girlfriend, Miao Yin (Suzee Pai) from the nefarious Lo Pan (screen great James Hong who chews scenery wonderfully in this film).

What Jack doesn’t know is that Lo Pan is a sorcerer, and has the service of the Three Storms. Lo Pan plans to sacrifice Miao Yin for his own benefit. Things are complicated by a local lawyer, Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall) and a journalist, Margo (Kate Burton).

Jack sure doesn’t understand what is going on, even with Wang and Egg Shen (Victor Wong) to guide him, but he’s dedicated to his friend and even if he’s a little clumsy, not always clever, or even aware, he’s going to do his best.

So they find themselves in a bizarre adventure, in, around and under San Francisco’s Chinatown. Filled with laughs, and great dialogue, Jack and Wang make a great pair of partners, as from scene to scene the dynamic of who is the hero, and who is the sidekick changes.

I remember this film didn’t get a lot of love when it was first released, but like a lot of Carpenter’s films, has grown to be beloved and attained cult status. The soundtrack is fantastic, and the film is a lot of fun, because it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

I love every pairing of Russell and Carpenter (though Escape From probably my least favourite) and I would love to see them do another project together, a combination of horror, comedy and action that only their chemistry can pull off so well.

Endlessly quotable and rewatchable, this one not only brings me joy each time I watch it (or listen to the soundtrack) but it is now also a wealth of nostalgia from countless parts of my life.

So keep on tuckin’ Jack Burton, and I will tag along every single time. In fact, despite the fact that I just finished watching it, I may have to restart it. And you know what ole Jack Burton says a time like this? Ole Jack always says, what the hell.

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