Big Trouble in Little China is one of my favourite films and is as ridiculously entertaining as it ever was. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic and there are so many special features it will take many hours to go through them all. Essential stuff.
Plot: Kurt Russell stars as Jack Burton, a tough-talking truck driver whose life goes into a supernatural tailspin when his best friend’s fiancée is kidnapped in John Carpenter’s Big Trouble In Little China. Jack suddenly finds himself in a murky, danger-filled world beneath San Francisco’s Chinatown, where Lo Pan, a 2,000-year-old magician, mercilessly rules an empire of spirits. Facing down a host of unearthly terrors, Jack battles through Lo Pan’s dark domain in a full-throttle, action-riddled ride to rescue the girl.
Review: I was recently lucky enough to get my hands on the Sacred Bones Special Edition Blu-ray set of John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China which comes in a sleek black case, has the Shout! Factory Blu-ray of the movie inside as well as vinyl LP with two tracks from the music score. It is one of my prized possessions, so I thought it was time I gave it a review.
At the time of release, I think many were baffled by Big Trouble in Little China so it wasn’t a huge critical or commercial success but since then people have come to their senses and realised what a classic film this is. I had never really seen anything like it before or since (aside from maybe Ninja Wars from 1983) so it felt like that rare thing – an original movie with a crazy story, silly monsters, lots of fight scenes and a hilarious script keeping the tone light and endlessly entertaining.
It was a regular staple on VHS in my house growing up and I’ve only grown to love it more and more over the years.
Kurt Russell is perfectly cast as the motormouth truck driver Jack Burton who has a quip for every situation, but he also wouldn’t get too far without his friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) who is essentially the brains of the operation. Together they have to team up to stop David Lo Pan (a wonderfully creepy yet hilarious James Hong) from marrying Wang’s girl, becoming mortal and ruling the universe.
It’s got a great cast of many action movie legends like Al Leong (is it really an action picture if he doesn’t show up?), Jeff Imada, James Lew (who also choreographed the action), Carter Wong and Victor Wong. They all get a chance to shine with Victor Wong’s Egg Shen the mentor-style character who guides our heroes and prepares them for the ultimate showdown.
Kim Cattrall plays Gracie Law who Jack falls for and ultimately has to rescue from Lo Pan; she’s feisty and at first has no time for Jack but grows fonder of him as the story progresses.
This is a fast-paced 99 minutes with near constant action including fight, scenes, magic, shoot-outs and explosions. The Three Storms are still awesome antagonists and for some reason the majority of the visual effects still hold up. The set and costume design are faultless and it’s the kind of movie I can easily rewatch.
Shout! Factory really nailed it with this Blu-ray set as not only are the picture and sound well remastered but there are almost too many special features to go through in one sitting –
- NEW Audio Commentary With Producer Larry Franco
- NEW Audio Commentary With Special Effects Artist Steve Johnson, Moderated By filmmaker Anthony C. Ferrante
- Audio Commentary With Director John Carpenter And Actor Kurt Russell
- Isolated Score
- Theatrical Trailers
- TV Spots
- Vintage Audio Interview With John Carpenter
- Electronic Press Kit – Interviews And Profiles
- Gag Reel
- Music Video
- Deleted And Extended Scenes
- Extended Ending
- Photo Galleries – Movie Stills, Posters, Lobby cards, Publicity Photos, And Behind-the-scenes Photos
DISC TWO: BONUS FEATURES
- NEW You’re The Hero – An Interview With Actor Dennis Dun
- NEW The Soul Of Lo Pan – An Interview With Actor James Hong
- NEW Able To Be Myself – An Interview With Actor Donald Li
- NEW The Tao Of Thunder – An Interview With Actor Carter Wong
- NEW The Tao Of Rain – An Interview With Actor Peter Kwong
- NEW The Hatchet Man Speaks – An Interview With Actor Al Leong
- NEW Damn Wiley Prescott – An Interview With Writer W.D. Richter
- NEW It Was A Western Ghost Story – An Interview With Writer Gary Goldman
- NEW The Poetry Of Motion – An Interview With Associate Producer/Martial Arts Choreographer James Lew
- NEW Into The Mystic Night – An Interview With The Coupe De Ville’s Member Nick Castle
- NEW Since We Were Kids – An Interview With Second Unit Director/The Coupe De Ville’s Member Tommy Lee Wallace
- NEW Love And Art – A Conversation With Movie Poster Artist Drew Struzan
- Return To Little China – An Interview With Director John Carpenter
- Being Jack Burton – An Interview With Actor Kurt Russell
- Carpenter And I – An Interview With Director Of Photography Dean Cundey
- Producing Big Trouble – An Interview With Producer Larry Franco
- Staging Big Trouble – An Interview With Stuntman Jeff Imada
- Interview With Visual Effects Artist Richard Edlund
- Vintage Featurette
The deleted scenes are interesting but as stated before them most of them were removed purely for pacing reasons which is understandable. The extended ending is a fascinating watch and I wish they’d kept that in as it is satisfying seeing the kidnappers get what they deserve. The isolated score is fantastic as John Carpenter’s music is always one of the many highlights of his movies. The audio commentary from John Carpenter and Kurt Russell is as entertaining as you’d expect and I think this may be one of the best Blu-rays I’ve ever seen as there isn’t a single extra special feature I would add.
Overall, Big Trouble in Little China remains one of my favourite movies with Jack Burton an icon of the genre; it’s so endlessly re-watchable with lots of quotable dialogue and fun action scenes making this set (even without the vinyl) a must-have with hours of viewing to be enjoyed.