Ode to Big Trouble in Little China

When asked in the past what my favorite film is I’ve given several answers.  Maybe I was trying impress someone with my knowledge of Kurosawa.  Or perhaps I mentioned how I always get choked up at the end of “E.T.”  Or I could have described the humanity and magic that Hayao Miyazaki brings to his stories.  But my friends they’re lies, all lies.

Because “Big Trouble in Little China” is the greatest movie ever made.

Directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell, this is what you get when you throw comedy, kung fu films, Howard Hawks’ “His Girl Friday”, and westerns all into a bag, shake it around, and everything manages to come out right.

Did I mention this movie completely bombed when it came out?

An alternate poster by Drew Struzan

One thing it had going against it is, well, the main character Jack Burton is basically a fool.  The film was marketed as a big action adventure, but the fun that Russell (channeling his best John Wayne) and Carpenter had was making his character act like he was in charge, but he essentially the sidekick of the story.  The real ass kicking hero of the story was Dennis Dun’s Wang Chi.  But by shifting the story on to the louder and more charismatic Jack Burton, who thinks he’s the hero but can’t seem to get anything accomplished, you now have a comedy (that doesn’t act like a comedy) on your hands.  Add in kung fu, chinese sorcery, and all the other genre-blending, it’s easy to see that it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

This isn’t one of those ‘it’s so bad it’s good’ movies, like Troll 2″ or “The Room.”  No, “Big Trouble in Little China” genuinely kicks butt.  The dialogue is wonderfully hard boiled and extremely quotable.  The action and fantasy are full of imagination.  And the humor is of course the main gem, as the characters never know they’re being funny or foolish.

So why is this movie great?  Because it’s just so darn fun!

Yes, this is me in San Francisco’s Chinatown wearing the “Big Trouble in Little China” shirt

To listen to the Educating [Geeks] podcast I was a guest on, which was all about Big Trouble in Little China, you can check it out here:

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