Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Big Trouble in Little China

Big Trouble in Little China; Action/ Fantasy, USA, 1986; D: John Carpenter, S: Kurt Russell, Dennis Dun, Kim Cattrall, James Hong, Victor Wong, Kate Burton

Truck driver Jack Burton gives his friend Wang a lift to the airport, where he awaits his girlfriend Miao Yin, but she gets kidnapped by some thugs. Jack and Wang follow them in the truck to Chinatown, where they witness a confrontation between two gangs and appearance of a ghost sorcerer, Lo Pan. They loose the truck but meet the blond Gracie. Wang gradually reveals Jack that Lo Pan is an evil sorcerer who was defeated by Qin Shi Huang, but wants to marry and sacrifice Miao, a green eyed girl, to break the curse, gain a physical body and rule the world. The three of them and a street gang enter Lo Pan's hideout and kill him, saving the girl. Jack leaves without getting Gracie, but back in his truck there is still one monster left.

"Big Trouble in Little China" is a big budget film with little to no spirit. Even though it is directed by the legendary John Carpenter and subsequently gained cult status despite it's commercial failure, that fantasy action comedy is forced, rushed, unconvincing, silly, contrived and not particularly funny - just take the scene somewhere near the beginning where Jack (a very good Kurt Russell) wins a bet from his friend Wang who double dares him and bets he can splice a bottle with his knife in half. Jack agrees, but takes Wang's prepared bottle away and instead places his own one, from which he just drank. Wang brandishes and hits the bottle, making it bounce right into Jack's face who is luckily fast enough to catch it. What's so funny about that? Well, that's just it - nothing much. The whole film has only some 5-6 good jokes spread over 100 minutes of running time, and some 50 more that just backfire. The action unravel neatly on the screen, but just a few of them cause any reaction from the audience, while spectacle and great special effects can't hide the lack of inspiration. There's all kind of unbelievable moments, from a floating monster head that sees everything that the bad guy Lo Pan sees up to evil magicians that rip the roof of a brothel, but only a hand full of good moments prevail. The last 20 minutes are the only ones that deserve to be seen - there's this amusing moment where Jack enters the bad guy's hideouts with his gang and spontaneously raises his machine gun up and fires above him, randomly hitting the ceiling which collapses and falls on his head, knocking him unconscious. If at least the whole film was as fun as that moment, it could have really been great.


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