Stars: Kurt Russell, Dennis Dun, Kim Cattrall, James Hong, Victor Wong, Kate Burton, Donald Li, Carter Wong, James Pax | Written by Gary Goldman, David Z. Weinstein | Directed by John Carpenter
When you have favourite movies it always comes as a surprise when you hear that they bombed on original release, even more of a surprise when you learn that most of its failure was down to being buried by the film companies. This is the case of Big Trouble in Little China, a movie that now has such a cult following that it’s hard to see how it could have failed. Luckily for us we have Arrow Video to give us a Blu-ray steelbook release to truly celebrate the film.
Jack Burton (Russell) is the ultimate American hero, in his own mind. When he finds himself in the middle of gang warfare in Little China between the forces of good and the forces of the supernatural all Jack wants is to get his truck back. To do this though he finds he must save his friend Wang’s (Dun) fiancée from the hands of David Lo Pan (Hong) a supernatural being looking to return to flesh by marrying the girl with the emerald eyes.
In ways it’s easy to see why the studios didn’t understand Big Trouble in Little China, it was brave filmmaking and very much a head of its time. The fact that Jack is not the actual hero of the piece is in ways jarring against what is seen as traditional action, but it works for the viewers who actually understand it. In ways Big Trouble in Little China shows a film that is perfect to become a cult hit. Films like this don’t just die, word of mouth takes them to the fans and it’s the fans who make them what they are.
As much as Jack Burton maybe the star of the film we do have to remember just how good people like James Hong are in the film, as Lo Pang he creates a formidable nemesis and one that is hard to forget. It’s the comic edge to the characters that make them work, which is more than evident in Egg Shen (Victor Wong) as the crazy old wizard who provides the magic needed to take on Lo Pang’s domain.
Of course it’s not just the cult success that makes Big Trouble in Little China an important release, we can’t forget that this is one of the films created through the partnership of James Carpenter and Kurt Russell. To experience their chemistry you only have to listen to the commentary track which is not new for the release (I’ve heard it before) but is still fun to listen to and provides plenty of information for the fan of the film. Alongside the commentary track you’ll also find the isolated score soundtrack which shows another side to Carpenters talents.
Other special features on the disc feature interviews about the making of the film including comments by Carpenter and Russell as well as other people who had a part in making the film. What these features show is just how much people enjoyed making Big Trouble in Little China, and as fans we are lucky enough to see the behind the scenes take on a classic.
Big Trouble in Little China is a film that is loved by the fans and in this steelbook form it’s going to be a must buy. With an excellent picture quality and the choice to have the isolated score this truly shows the film at its best and reminds us just why Jack Burton is a cultural icon, if only for the comedy value at least.
Big Trouble in Little China is out now on Blu-ray Steelbook from Arrow Video.