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modern marvel's Review

Created Mar 27, 2014 06:56AM PST • Edited Mar 27, 2014 06:56AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0

    “When some wild eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol’ Jack Burton always says at a time like that: ‘Have ya paid your dues, Jack?’ ‘Yessir, the check is in the mail.’” —Jack Burton, Big Trouble in Little china, 1986

    That about sums up everything you need to know about this 80’s cult classic. Considered one of the defining actioners of the 80’s, considered a flop upon release, and now considered one of Kurt russell’s best roles, Big trouble in Little china is the story of Jack Burton- scratch that, this is the story of Wang, a young chinese immigrant doing well enough to finally have his lifelong love move to be with him. Kurt Russell plays Jack Burton, who is basically there as Wang’s friend, but also as a man to whom Wang owes “1,148 dollars times two.” then proceeds to get in over his head when Lo Pan, a centuries old villain finally gets not one, but two green eyed women to fulfill his prophecy and restore him to- you know what, its got martial arts and guns blazing. It has Kurt Russell in his scruffy, rugged, wisecracking 80’s action comedy finest. The movies has magic, sorcery (arguably the same thing), villains, good guys, rescues, explosions, and the wildest imagination seen since…I’m not sure they can make movies like this anymore. Big trouble in Little china—cult masterpiece. That COULD be my entire review. It’s certainly a “love it or hate it” endeavor and a stark change of pace for the director of such 80s fare as “Escape from New York” and “the Thing” up to that point.
  3. Good 3.0

    “Everybody relax, I’m here.” —Jack Burton, Big Trouble in Little China.

    The acting is rise and fall in this film, as it often is in this era of cinema. John Carpenter as a director had a tendency to hire actors on both sides of the “thespian” fence. Kurt Russell is one of my favorite actors, as I grew up with his characters (i was telling Wick that due to my mother i know more quotes from “overboard” than any grown man should ever be allowed). Jack Burton isn’t the badass that snake Plisskin is. In fact, some might argue that he isnt a badass at all. He certainly says more one-liners than any character seemingly in history, has a certain roguish charm, and does a decent job of sounding like John Wayne. HA! Jack burton is our eyes and ears going into a fantasy world that we don’t particularly understand and despite technically not being the main character in his own movie, he is most definitely the principle character in our own recollections and that is exactly what the script asked of the characterization.

    “What does that say?
    “Hell of boiling oil.”
    “You’re kidding.”
    “Yeah I am. It says keep out.”

    Lets be perfectly honest here, in a film with this level of cartoonish behavior, not every actor will shine in every particular scene. And in a film such as this, you’re not necessarily asked to believe every moment. This is a film full of memorable characters, however, and they all MORE than serve the machinations in front of your eyes. Egg Shen, Wang Li, Lo Pan, that thungder and lightning guy, Gracie, etc are all servicing the film. wang may be the main character, but lets face it- every time weve returned to this film, its because we all secretly wish we could get more adventure from Jack.

  4. Male Stars Good 3.0
  5. Female Stars Good 3.0
  6. Female Costars Good 3.0
  7. Male Costars Good 3.0
  8. Very Good 3.5

    “thats why the bottle didn’t slice! My mind and my spirit are going north and south!” —Wang li, Big Trouble in Little China.

    This movie MAY be the most John Carpenter of all John Carpenter movies. The write/director has always had a particular style. Minimalist and yet full of life. His scores are rife with synthesizer and rhythm, and yet are also kept to that same John Carpenter style: less is more. And the “less is more” approach is a good idea when you’re dealing with thunder Gods reigning lightning, a centuries old warlock attempting to lift a curse, and that expanding guy who explodes (i remember covering my eyes to that scene instinctivley because I was simulataneously revolted and yet utterly blown away by how cool the effect was). Being a 1980’s john Carpenter film, he gets a lot of the credit for this (he was often the writer, director, editor, composer, etc) and yet I believe the comic book, exaggerated aestethic belongs to the actors as well. Stepping back to the acting category yet again, it must be said that while the acting isn’t exactly top notch in every minute, that is is certainly perfect for the attempts made by the film. It has a long reach, but thankfully never exceeds its grasp.

  9. Direction Very Good 3.5
  10. Play Very Good 3.5
  11. Music Very Good 3.5
  12. Visuals Very Good 3.5
  13. Content
  14. Sordid 2.8

    “I’d go with you, but…”
    “I know, theres a problem with your face.”

    This is a movie with whom edge is hard to describe. Ive already mentioned how ludicrous the plot is, and how silly its all played to be (this is a comic book movie without a comic book or an unnecessary sequel), and how the direction is played subtly so that the zaniness is allowed to enter the screen, not be forced upon us. That being sais there are some moments not for the squeamish. Being that i first saw this as a child, I’ll list a few examples.
    —the guardian is gross looking. And getting stabbed in the eyeball isn’t exactly subtle.
    —the aofrementioned exploding man and the effect leading up to it are a bit rough for young eyes.
    —despite the act that Jack doesn’t even kiss the girl, there is a bit of a sexuallized tone and flirtateous atmosphere in many of their scenes (including that famous lipstick on the hero moment), as well as a religious ceremony that would suggest polygamy.
    —Lo Pan gets hit by Jack’s truck! or does he?
    —lots and lots of martial arts, gunplay, attitude, etc.
    —according to imdb trivia, there is a body count of 47 in this film. So there is certainly mayhem aplenty.

  15. Sex Titillating 2.4
  16. Violence Brutal 3.0
  17. Rudeness Profane 2.9
  18. Supernatural 4.0

    “I’m a reasonable guy. But I’ve just experienced some very unreasonable things.” —Jack burton

    That being said, this movie is NOT realistic. its a fantasy film/action comedy/western with fantastical elements around every corner and a plotline that explains everything but also subliminally winks at the audience and says “There ya go, not that you care about why.” You could make a drinking game out of the many times that Kurt Russell’s character says a variation of “what is going on here!?” because, well, it needs to occasionally catch its breath and actually explain some moments away otherwise I’m not sure the story would hold up…because it is somewhat silly once you break it down. A film like this isnt seen to be scrutinized, however. This is the definition of a “popcorn munching good time” at the theater. and now, a concluding quote…

    “god, aren’t you even going to kiss her goodbye?”

  19. Circumstantial Supernatural 4.0
  20. Biological Supernatural 4.0
  21. Physical Supernatural 4.0


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Mar 27, 2014 5:00PM

Regarding modern marvel’s Review
“It has Kurt Russell in his scruffy, rugged, wisecracking 80’s action comedy finest.” What more do you need.

Jan 11, 2010 9:23PM

Regarding MetalJunky5000’s Review
Good one MJ. I remember seeing and liking this movie back in the day. Of course, I’ve always been a Kurt Russell fan.