"Big Trouble in Little China" on DVD
By Jim Bray
If you liked the martial arts action of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," then
this DVD is a must see. It's a must see for many more reasons than that,
John Carpenter and Kurt Russell team up yet again in what has to be one
of the funniest action films ever. Think of "Raiders of the Lost Ark"
meets "Abbott and Costello."
Russell is Jack Burton, a big lunk of a semi driver/owner. Burton's a
brash blowhard who thinks he can handle any situation. Then he finds himself
facing the demons of hell when his friend's fiancee is kidnapped and swept
away to be the bride of David Lo Pan, a 2000 year old creature who needs
a green eyed beauty in order to become flesh once more and rule the world
from beyond the grave.
Well, Jack and his Chinese friends obviously don't want to see that happen,
and their outrageous adventure takes them below San Francisco's Chinatown
and into a world of magic and mayhem that has to be seen to be believed
- and even then it's pretty unbelievable.
Kurt Russell is an actor who is obviously secure in who he is, because
his character is not your run of the mill action adventure guy. Rather,
he's a big and brash oaf who, while brave enough, doesn't really have
a lot on the ball and spends a good part of the movie either complaining
about his lot in life or trying to unravel himself from situations into
which he's gotten himself, while the real action stars around him go on
to do most of the work.
In the end he comes though, of course, earning his place in the legends
Russell is terrific as Burton. He's larger than life and smaller than
life at the same time, and he allows himself to be made to look like a
complete idiot - and pulls it off. Kim Cattrall, as a lawyer who has a
problem with her face (in that there are some who want to push it in),
is also a wonderful foil to the big lunk as she delivers her lines with
machine gun speed. Dennis Dun plays Burton's friend Wang Chi whose fiancee
gets snatched by Lo Pan's (the ubiquitous James Hong) minions, and he
is also very good.
In fact, there really isn't a bad performance in this film. Even the
minor roles are beautifully cast by director Carpenter and he gets the
most of out the material as well.
Add to that a screenplay that rockets along at warp speed, a rhythmic
John Carpenter-composed (with Alan Howarth) musical score that perfectly
complements the action, incredible martial arts and fight choreography,
and special effects by ex-ILM guru Richard Edlund, and you have an exciting,
hilarious movie that you'll want to have in your collection.
Okay, some of the effects are downright hokey (for instance, the inflating
"storm"), but rather than detracting from the film they actually add to
To sweeten the DVD deal, 20th Century Fox, who never really understood
this movie until it started making money on home video, has come up with
a deluxe disc package that really does this cult classic justice. It's
a two disc set in which the movie has been lovingly transferred with pristine
anamorphic widescreen video and pounding Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 soundtracks.
You couldn't ask for much better audio and video than you get on this
Disc One also includes a delicious running commentary by director John
Carpenter and star Russell. These guys are old friends (who've worked
together many times) and it's a delight to hear them catch up with this,
one of their favorite efforts together, as well as with each other.
Disc Two includes for starters a bunch of deleted scenes and a featurette
on the film's genesis (and it's a decent featurette). You also get an
interview with effects whiz Edlund (who also did such films as Ghostbusters
and 2010), a still picture gallery, production notes, magazine articles,
a music video, and TV spots/trailers.
Big Trouble in Little China, from 20th Century Fox Home Video
99 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby
Starring Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, James Hong, Dennis Dun, Victor Wong
Produced by Larry J. Franco,
Written by Gary Goldman and David Z. Weinstein, Directed by John Carpenter
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