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Big Trouble In Little China (1986)

Some people pick the darnedest places to start a fight

Directed by:

John Carpenter

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 99 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

'Big Trouble in Little China': under-rated high-kicking cult classic or diabolically-acted rubbish of monumental proportions? Personally, I like to think it's a little bit of both.

Kurt Russell, in one of many collaborations with hit-and-miss director John Carpenter, takes top billing as Jack Burton. He's the bemulleted trucker – I said trucker – who winds up waist-deep in gang warfare, kung-fu, and dark Chinese sorcery. Doing a bizarre semi-John Wayne impression (he fields practically every comment flung his way with 'the Hell I will' or 'the Hell it does'), Jack assists best bud Wang (Dennis Dun) as he attempts to rescue his fiancée Miao Yin (Suzee Pai) from evil arch-pensioner David Lo Pan (James Hong).

Most of us would regard 2000 years of age as a pretty good innings but, not content with sitting back in his wheelchair and sucking gleefully on some Werther's Original, crumbly ol' Lo Pan's determined to clinch immortality. That means bad news. Not just for the health service, but also for Miao Yin and inconceivably adventurous lawyer Grace Law ('Sex and the City''s Kim Cattrall), whose green eyes make them prime candidates for a sacrifice. Among Lo Pan's henchman are 'The 3 Storms' – three blokes who, comically, wear wicker baskets instead of hats. Fantastic stuff.

The special effects are marvellously dodgy, and Russell's performance is the source of plenty of laughs – though it can be difficult to figure out whether or not that's the intention. Regardless, this is an entertaining ride, which perhaps came slightly before its' time. Had it been made a decade or so later than its' 1986 release, it would have benefited from the spiralling popularity of martial arts in western cinema and vastly improved FX. Oh well.

It's Got: Madness and mysticism.

It Needs: Kurt Russell to do something about that barnet.

DVD Extras A surprisingly good 2-disc special edition set, featuring a nice audio commentary from Russell and Carpenter, deleted and extended scenes, 7-minute featurette, interview with FX man Richard Edlund, photo gallery, production notes, magazine articles and even a music video. DVD Extras Rating: 9/10

Alternatives:

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension, The Golden Child

Summary

It's aged a bit, but 'Big Trouble in Little China' remains terrific fun – provided you don't take it even remotely seriously.

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