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Written by / 5/04/2015 / No comments / , , , , ,

CARPENTER & RUSSELL RETURN FOR BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA

year: 1986
As grungy truck driver Jack Burton, director John Carpenter’s stock action star Kurt Russell is a Snake Plissken for the GOONIES generation, making BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA feel like ESCAPE FROM WILLIE WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, or as one character points out, a "radical ALICE IN WONDERLAND"…

For BIG TROUBLE is an adventure where each level brings a new chaotic challenge, making the overall plot not matter much – that being a kidnapped green-eyed Asian beauty caught in the mazy labyrinth beneath Chinatown where Burton and an eclectic band of misfits, including and especially Dennis Dun as the resilient Wang Chi and tough ingénue Kim Cattrall as Gracie Law, survive various elements to reach the literal bottom of things. But as far as the players go, BLADE RUNNER actor James Hong is the man here, and an old one at that. His ancient Lo Pan needs to wed the green-eyed McGuffin, who’s engaged to our likable young sidekick. In that, Dennis Dun has equal screen time with the often benign Russell, who remains impartial during most of the karate-filled bouts.

A Much Cooler Image Poster
Awkward dissolves aside, John Carpenter keeps the pace moving effectively with quick-cut close-ups providing a comic book panel styling, colorfully reminiscent of Walter Hill's STREETS OF FIRE, and turns in a more upbeat soundtrack than usual: though his ominous synth remains an undercurrent.

And where Russell’s NEW YORK Plissken paid homage to Clint Eastwood’s iconic Spaghetti Western loner, this super-macho fella has a John Wayneish delivery, at times going so overboard that the performance feels more like a quotable-contrived satire than a genuine action hero…

But with loads of mystical fantasy, an exploding samurai, costumed monsters and tacked-on special effects that often distract from the basic pulpy peril, you shouldn’t take LITTLE CHINA very seriously. In fact the whole rollercoaster ride, seeming purposely tailor-made for a cult-following even before successfully acquiring one, is much better experienced than evaluated... In one ear, out the other... Relax and enjoy.

RATING: ***1/2
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