Hop in the Pork Chop Express, sit tight, and if we’re not back by dawn… call the president!
Written by The Hatman on Aug 5, 2021
When you hear the name John Carpenter you probably think of horror movies such as Halloween, The Fog, They Live, and Village of the Damned. However, when you throw the name Kurt Russell into the mix, no doubt you think of The Thing or Escape From New York (and its sequel ‘Escape from L.A.’). However, one of the best collaborations between these two legends is the now fairly unknown 1986 action-comedy Big Trouble In Little China.
The film follows trucker Jack Burton (Russell) who, while trying to collect money he won from a bet against his friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun), gets his beloved truck, the Pork Chop Express, stolen by a criminal group. During his attempts to recover said truck, (as well as rescue Wang’s kidnapped girlfriend), Jack ends up embroiled in a millennia-old supernatural conflict against the evil Lo-pan, portrayed by the incredible James Hong (Kung-fu Panda, Blade Runner, R.I.P.D).
Along the way they are joined by lawyer Gracie Law, (Kim Cattrall, best known as Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones) and Chinatown tour bus driver/Chinese sorcerer Egg Shen (Victor Wong), as they try to rescue Wang Chi’s girlfriend, Miao Yin (Suzee Pai) before Lo Pan uses her in a dark ceremony which must be stopped.
The film is a comedy through and through with plenty of one-liners and quips as you’d expect from an 80’s action movie. However, the film takes the comedy one step further. When you think of Kurt Russell you probably think of characters like Snake Pliskin or R.J. MacReady. Jack Burton is slightly different, however. While he has many badass moments, the fights he is involved in are more like a comedy of errors, including him knocking himself out before a fight starts by firing a gun into the ceiling and having debris fall on his head.
The visual effects in the film are excellent for 1986, with many of them seeming a bit dated by now. The practical effects are impressive, with large set pieces which would today be relegated to CGI spectaculars. However, the film doesn’t take itself too seriously. Many of the fights are amusing, with over-the-top “wire-fu”, typical 80’s fight scenes, and plenty of broken scenery.
Originally imagined as a turn of the century western, the film was reworked to take place in the present day, turning Jack from a gunslinger into a trucker. The film’s production was rushed so that it would come out before The Golden Child, an Eddie Murphy film that dealt with similar themes and also starred Victor Wong. However, while the rush to get the film out may have contributed to its ultimate obscurity, it is by no means an unpolished or sloppy film.
Big Trouble in Little China is a great and fun movie to put on when you don’t feel like thinking too hard but would like a good chuckle and an old-fashioned 80’s action film.
You can see a trailer for the film below
Cliff ‘The Hatman’ Ekron first donned his hat at the age of 17 and for 20 years has roamed the earth as The Hatman.
He is somewhat of a film nut (though most would just call him a nut), and has a passion for all things related to film.