Big Trouble in Little China remains a funny, original classic

By Luke Rosica || Contributing Writer

John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China is a great action and comedy movie from the 1980s. The film is rich with unique scenery, great costumes, funny dialogue, and fun action scenes. The film stars Kurt Russell as Jack Burton, a truck driver who gets wrapped up in an ancient Chinese battle after he visits his friend in San Francisco. From that point on, the film toes the line between action movie satire and an actual action movie. The reason why it works so well is because Kurt Russell nails the character of Jack Burton.

At moments, Jack Burton is really cool. He delivers great one-liners, successfully accomplishes feats that require tremendous skill, and he has the look of an action hero. I would say that Jack Burton’s hero outfit, his tank top and stonewashed jeans, is iconic. You will probably recognize it even if you haven’t seen the movie.

On the flip side, though, Jack Burton is also a total failure as a hero. He is constantly being knocked out, he’s definitely not smooth with women, and Wang Chi, his friend, is usually the one actually saving the day. But the best part is that even though he’s constantly bumbling around, Jack takes himself completely seriously. Kurt Russell’s performance gives the impression that Jack Burton thinks he’s James Bond or Indiana Jones, but the audience can see he’s really just a buffoon.

Because of Jack’s inflated ego, the movie is rife with great comedic moments. The film is constantly trying to break your expectations of what an action movie hero is like. For instance, there’s a scene when Jack and Wang are leading a group of people out of the villain’s base. Jack and Wang realize a group of henchmen are behind the next door and tell everyone else to scatter. The film makes it seem as though Jack and Wang are going to team up and take down a dozen or so bad guys when suddenly, Jack Burton’s gun doesn’t fire. Wang continues to defeat every single henchman, all while Jack is fumbling to switch the safety off on his gun. Little moments like this are littered throughout the movie and create the interesting character that is Jack Burton.

Jack, incidentally, also thinks really highly of himself. Jack is always providing words of wisdom throughout the film, and he does so in the third person despite the fact that he himself is often the one asking questions. In the film, it’s clear that Jack doesn’t understand what’s going on. Jack is a really unique character. The combination of his goofiness with great kung fu action sequences and awesome set design makes Big Trouble in Little China a very unique action movie.

Sophomore Luke Rosica is a contributing writer. His email is lrosica@fandm.edu.

print

Leave a Reply