A campy cult classic by design, Big Trouble in Little China is an outrageous action adventure comedy from John Carpenter, a living legend of the 80s cinema.
I really love the core concept of being able to just step to a side street in the middle of the busy urban San Francisco and get sucked into an ancient chinese adventure where none of your western rules apply anymore. I love how the all the protagonists, magicians, sorcerers, karate masters and their showdowns are pages ripped right out of a comic book, and how the movie plays around with every cliché it can think of. I love Kurt Russell’s portrayal of Jack Burton, a big-mouthed self-quoting wannabe hero who always ends up a little short in his heroic efforts. I love the set design, the effects, the poster and pretty much every still frame of the movie you can throw my way.
And herein lies my fundamental problem with the movie: I love all the small things in Big Trouble in Little China more than I like it as an actual movie. This is not to say that Big Trouble in Little China would be a bad film – I just enjoy the idea of it more than I enjoy actually sitting down and watching through it. Part of it has to do with the movie starting out with such a great setup, but then never quite being able to outdo its outrageous premise, and ends up recycling a lot of what was already seen during the first 30 minutes of the movie.
Given all this, Big Trouble in Little China is still a piece of 80s cult cinema that begs to be revisited every few years.