Monday, 28 March 2016

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

I've seen this film before, of course.  I am a nerd of a certain age, after all.  But I didn't pick it up on DVD until quite recently.  One of those "huh, I can't believe I didn't already buy that" moments.

For those of you who somehow don't know, Big Trouble in Little China is the tale of wise-cracking trucker Jack Burton, who stops off in Chinatown one night for a friendly game of Fan-Tan and - quite without intending to - finds himself embroiled in a supernatural turf war between rival fighting tongs.

There's naturally a 'good tong' and a 'bad tong', who colour-code themselves in yellow and red for audience convenience.  Backing the bad guys up, however, is a lot of mystical firepower.  First there is a trio known as 'the Three Storms', who can fly, throw around lightning, and other crazy stuff.  But more importantly there is the evil sorcerer Lo Pan, cursed two thousand years earlier to a life without physical form.

Lo Pan can restore his mortal body only by marrying and then murdering a very special, green-eyed woman.  He's chosen the fiancée of Jack's best friend for this less than desirable role, and soon Jack, his friend, and a local lawyer named Gracie Law are embroiled in desperate efforts to get her back.

Big Trouble in Little China's main gimmick is that our protagonist is the guy who would normally be the mouthy comedy sidekick, as Jack's friend Wing is far more capable than Jack in almost every way.  This allows the script to blend in plenty of humour, including within the numerous action scenes.

This film received mixed reviews on original release but has become something of a cult favourite for its blend of goofy comedy, over the top martial arts, and supernatural shenanigans.  I thoroughly enjoyed it the first time I saw it, and every time since then.  If you're looking for an action film with a more light hearted feel to it than the average, this particular Chinatown might well be the right destination for you.

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