Big Trouble in Little China (1986) 3.86/5 (2)


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Rating: The Good – 78.7
Genre: Fantasy
Duration: 99  mins
Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun

You have to admire films where the rule book is thrown clear through the window. John Carpenter’s cult classic is a martial arts fantasy set in San Francisco and follows the fortunes of all-American truck driver Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) who gets mixed up in kidnapping, Chinese mysticism, human rights lawyers, and warring triads. Everything about Big Trouble in Little China is counter-conventional. The leading man is a loveable doofus who means well but ends up needing as much saving as he saves others. The action is straight out of the Chinese flying films that had only really begun to gain popularity in the East by the time Carpenter’s movie was being made. Throw in a few sorcerers, lots of neon lighting, a throne room with a real no-foolin escalator, and Carpenter’s sensational electric-guitar soundtrack and you’re left with one totally unpredictable kick ass martial arts romp.

Carpenter’s films are each defined by a unique energy and momentum and that was never channelled in a more fun and exciting manner than it is here. The kidnapping and pursuit sequence in particular is a perfect example of his brilliant unorthodoxy from the editing and camera angles to their coordination with the score, dialogue, and action choreography. In fact there’s not a single aspect to this movie that isn’t contributing strongly to its enjoyability. The fight scenes are terrific fun and for the most part just plain inspired, the chemistry between all the principals is spot on perfect, the dialogue and its delivery is of classic noir standard (seriously!), and the pace of the film never lets up for a second. Irresistible!

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