Big Trouble in Little China


D: John Carpenter

20th Century Fox (Larry J. Franco)

USA 🇺🇸 1986

99 mins




W: W.D. Richter, Gary Goldman & David Z. Weinstein

DP: Dean Cundey

Ed: Mark Warner

Mus: John Carpenter

PD: John J. Lloyd


Kurt Russell (Jack Burton), Kim Cattrall (Gracie Law), Dennis Dun (Wang Chi), James Hong (David Lo Pan), Victor Wong (Egg Shen), Kate Burton (Margo Litzenberger)


A comic-book style fantasy adventure which, by all rights, probably wouldn't have been made at all had it not been conceived in the 1980's.

Kurt Russell does his best John Wayne impression as a roguish, wisecracking truck driver who finds himself caught up between rival Chinese gangs in San Francisco's Chinatown, culminating in a showdown with an ancient wizard who abducts a pair of women with the intention of marrying them to give him even greater power.

It's all a rather silly and incredibly cheesy attempt to emulate and capitalise on the success of the Indiana Jones movies, but it has moments of thrilling action and hilariously ridiculous comedy, in a style which could have only been got away with in the 1980's.

A flop during its cinema run (possibly because it was released the same week as Aliens), it did go on to have huge cult success when it hit the home video market. I don't consider it demonstrative of director John Carpenter's best work. It is good fun though.


The cast of Big Trouble In Little China
The cast of Big Trouble In Little China
Did You Know:
John Carpenter and Kurt Russell explain on the audio commentary that the test screening was so overwhelmingly positive, that both of them expected it to be a big hit. However, 20th Century Fox put little into promoting the movie, and it ended up being a box-office bomb. In addition, the film was released in the midst of the hype for Aliens (1986), which was released sixteen days afterwards. However, it went on to be a huge cult hit through home video. Carpenter and Russell explained that the reason the studio did little to promote the film, was because they simply didn't know how to promote it.