This week’s Friday movie is going in a different direction. I still love all the little quirky, underseen, lesser-known oddities. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the big, loud, audaciousness of some studio films. They tend not to be available for free viewing and I try to keep paid content to a minimum. When I learned BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986) was free with ads, I jumped at the chance to feature it. It’s hard to not have a good time while watching this bit of cinematic insanity.
Director John Carpenter has described his movie as what would happen if a sidekick thought he was the star of the story. The “hero” is a truck driver by the name of Jack Burton. He just wants to drive his truck and do his thing. The simple act of driving his friend Wang Chi to the airport to pick up his fiancée ends up sucking him in to the literal underworld of Chinatown. There he comes face to face with Chinese gangs, martial arts masters, and those who defy all laws of biology and physics. All their misadventures lead to David Lo Pan, the supernatural head of everything Chinatown who must find a green-eyed woman to marry in order to lift a centuries-old curse (I think you can guess the color of Wang Chi’s fiancée’s eyes).
Carpenter’s description rings true with how Jack interacts with the world around him. He’s brash, he’s overconfident, and he’s also vaguely inept. In fact, he knocks himself out right before one of the biggest fight scenes, leaving the heroic acts to Wang, his love interest, and others. Wang, on the other hand, has all the answers and all the moves. This was groundbreaking for a mid-80s American movie where the Asian actors were usually cast as the nerdy, unheroic secondary characters. A number of the BIG TROUBLE Asian American actors have gone on record to say how much they enjoyed finally getting to play characters who were not only competent but truly extraordinary.
Jack’s love interest, played by Kim Cattrall, has also spoken about how refreshing it was to play a character who didn’t just scream while things happened to them, but could be in control of her own fate. While the other characters enjoyed playing up their incredible skills, Kurt Russell obviously had fun in the larger-than-life-but-blissfully-unaware Jack in all his goofy splendor. When everyone involved is having a great time making a movie, it comes through and the movie shines in a way you can’t help but enjoy.
While it is free to watch with ads, the video itself won’t embed. But here is a link to the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx5lkGS4w30
Question of the night–what’s your favorite Chinese food dish?