BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986) Reviews and overview

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Scream Factory has unveiled the extras for their Big Trouble in Little China Collector’s Edition Blu-ray and Steelbook editions, due out on December 3rd 2019. Both two-disc sets feature the same extensive extras.

Disc 1:

  • Audio commentary with producer Larry Franco (new)
  • Audio commentary with special effects artist Steve Johnson, moderated by filmmaker Anthony C. Ferrante (new)
  • Audio commentary with director John Carpenter and actor Kurt Russell
  • Isolated score
  • Vintage audio interview with director John Carpenter
  • Electronic Press Kit interviews and profiles
  • Deleted and extended scenes
  • Extended ending
  • Gag reel
  • Music Video
  • Theatrical trailers
  • TV spots
  • Photo galleries: stills, posters, lobby cards, publicity photos, and behind-the-scenes pictures

Disc 2:

  • Interview with actor Dennis Dun (new)
  • Interview with actor James Hong (new)
  • Interview with actor Donald Li (new)
  • Interview with actor Carter Wong (new)
  • Interview with actor Peter Kwong (new)
  • Interview with actor Al Leong (new)
  • Interview with writer W.D. Richter (new)
  • Interview with writer Gary Goldman (new)
  • Interview with associate producer/martial arts choreographer James Lew (new)
  • Interview with The Coupe De Villes band member Nick Castle (new)
  • Interview with second unit director/ The Coupe De Villes band member Tommy Lee Wallace (new)
  • Conversation with movie poster Artist Drew Struzan (new)
  • Interview with director John Carpenter
  • Interview with actor Kurt Russell
  • Interview with director of photography Dean Cundey
  • Interview with producer Larry Franco
  • Interview with stuntman Jeff Imada
  • Interview with visual effects artist Richard Edlund
  • Vintage featurette

Here’s the lowdown on the movie itself:

‘Jack Burton’s in for some serious trouble and you’re in for some serious fun.’

Big Trouble in Little China is a 1986 American action fantasy feature film about “an idiot¹” trucker helping rescue his friend’s fiancée from an ancient sorcerer.

Directed by John Carpenter from a 1982 Western-themed screenplay by Gary Goldman and David Z. Weinstein, that was later adapted by script doctor W.D. Richter (Needful Things; Dracula; Invasion of the Body Snatchers) to a modern urban setting, with additions Carpenter.


The characters in the film reminded John Carpenter “of the characters in Bringing Up Baby or His Girl Friday. These are very 1930s, Howard Hawks people.”

Initially reluctant, Kurt Russell eventually liked the notion of playing “a hero who has so many faults. Jack is and isn’t the hero. He falls on his ass as much as he comes through. This guy is a real blowhard. He’s a lot of hot air, very self-assured, a screw-up”. Furthermore, the actor felt that “at heart, he thinks he’s Indiana Jones but the circumstances are always too much for him”. Russell felt that the film would be a hard one to market. “This is a difficult picture to sell because it’s hard to explain. It’s a mixture of the real history of Chinatown in San Francisco blended with Chinese legend and lore. It’s bizarre stuff. There are only a handful of non-Asian actors in the cast.”

Jackie Chan was John Carpenter’s first choice to play Wang Chi, but producer Lawrence Gordon was highly against it, fearing Chan’s English wasn’t good enough after seeing his performances in Battle Creek Brawl (1980) and The Protector (1985), but Carpenter wanted Chan after the success of Police Story (1985). Chan declined and Dennis Dun was cast instead.


Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) is a tough-talking truck driver whose life goes into a supernatural tailspin when his best friend Wang Chi’s (Dennis Dun) fiancée is kidnapped at the airport.

In hot pursuit, Jack and Wang find themselves suddenly 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…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“Carpenter captures the formalism and fetishism of real Hong Kong martial arts movies without sending them up or putting them down. Kurt Russell has got to be the original good egg, making his character a total screw-up goofus, the Anti-Rambo, for our enjoyment […] The mostly Asian cast is excellent, with Dennis Dun’s Wang Chi character the real hero of the tale.” DVD Savant

“It’s got pretty 80s trick effects from the gang who provided Ghostbusters with the same; it’s got laffs, action, and monsters; and it spends plenty of time knocking out the props from under its putative hero, who doesn’t actually do very much that’s particularly heroic!” Ha ha, It’s Burl!

Big Trouble doesn’t take itself too serious and the cast are game to make fools of themselves , this definitely doesn’t come off as the usual cliched adventure romp. They set out to make a zany actioner that subverts many of the usual stereotypes […] Big Trouble in Little China is a strange and wonderful watch and one of the most quotable movies of all time, a cult-classic in the truest sense of the word and unique unto itself.” McBastard’s Mausoleum

“Both John Carpenter and Kurt Russell approach the film with tongues planted considerably in cheek […] Carpenter has a slick, sure hold on the action – the kung fu sequences are exhilaratingly lightning-paced and the Boss Film Co create some top-notch creature and makeup effects.” Moria

” …though it is action-packed, spectacularly edited and often quite funny, one can’t help feeling that Carpenter is squeezing the last drops out of a fatigued genre.” Newsweek, 1986

“It was fast-moving, it was visually spectacular, it was exotic and lighthearted and filled with a spirit of adventure. But then, gradually, the movie began to recycle itself […] After one amazing subterranean chamber had been survived and conquered, everybody fell down a chute into another one. By the end of the movie, I was just plain weary.” Roger Ebert, 1986

” …a far more enjoyable mash-up of classic Westerns, Saturday-morning serials, and Chinese wu xia than any of the Indiana Jones movies, with Kurt Russell in full bloom as Carpenter’s de rigueur hard-drinkin’, hard-gamblin’, wise-crackin’ loner hero—a bowling-alley John Wayne.” The Village Voice

Cast and characters:

  • Kurt Russell … Jack Burton
  • Kim Cattrall … Gracie Law
  • Dennis Dun … Wang Chi
  • James Hong … David Lo Pan
  • Victor Wong … Egg Shen
  • Kate Burton … Margo
  • Donald Li … Eddie Lee
  • Carter Wong … Thunder
  • Peter Kwong … Rain
  • James Pax … Lightning
  • Suzee Pai … Miao Yin
  • Chao Li Chi … Uncle Chu
  • Jeff Imada … Needles
  • Rummel Mor … Joe Lucky
  • Craig Ng … One Ear
  • June Kyoto Lu … White Tiger (as June Kim)
  • Noel Toy … Mrs O’Toole
  • Jade Go … Chinese Girl in White Tiger
  • Jerry Hardin … Pinstripe Lawyer

Technical details:

  • 99 minutes
  • Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1
  • Audio: 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)

Box office:

The film was a box office bomb, grossing $11.1 million in North America, well below its estimated $20 to $25 million budget.


  1.  The description “an idiot” is Carpenter’s own in a video interview.

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