17 April 2016

Big Trouble in Little China


So I watched Big Trouble in Little China for the first time in decades the other night.

Some post-viewing thoughts:

  • Why don't people make great movies like this anymore?
  • Kurt Russell plays pretty much the same character in every John Carpenter film. (Okay, MacReady ["The Thing"] and Plissken ["Escape from NY"] are both smarter than Jack Burton. But varying intelligence scores aside, they’re all pretty much the same character.)
  • The whole ‘adventure’ in the movie reminds me of the way my old group used to play Call of Cthulhu back in high-school: essentially as modern day ‘D&D’ with lots of bad decisions.
  • Kim Cattrall is pretty good in this. (Pity she hasn't appeared in anything of note in recent decades. Well, I'm pretty sure she hasn't...)

  • The film includes a D&D "beholder" (or at least a creature clearly inspired by a D&D "beholder").  That was a fun surprise.
  • I love how Jack Burton – the purported ‘hero’ of the film – has a ‘sidekick,’ Wang Chi, who is braver, more intelligent, and much better at fighting than him.  (Although Jack does manage to redeem himself somewhat by killing the Lo Pan [the BBG] at the end.)
  •  Why don't people make great movies like this anymore?

Best quote (from Jack Burton): “I' m a reasonable guy. But, I've just experienced some very unreasonable things.”

20 comments:

  1. This is a film that I enjoyed as a child and have grown to appreciate it more as I've grown older, and now it's one of my favourites.

    I think Russell plays much the same character in many of his films; his characters in Overboard and Hateful Eight are definitely part of the Burton/MacReady/Plissken family tree. Probably Captain Ron too.

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  2. One my favorite movies, my friends and I watch this every few months! Just saw it at a screening at a theater in Philly last week (note: the theater was a remodeled porn film house!). First time I've seen it on the big screen!

    Jack Burton is a great flawed reluctant hero, and Wang carries him indeed! I think Carpenter wanted it that way. He's bumbling and cocky and that makes him great!

    The lines are so great and campy, especially Catrall's Gracie Law (her infodump moments are over the top and awesome). Ahem, she starred in Sex and the City for many seasons, by the way!

    Glad you got to see it again! May the wings of Liberty never lose a feather!

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    Replies
    1. Re.: "Ahem, she starred in Sex and the City for many seasons, by the way!"

      I have no idea what you are talking about. I *refuse* to know! ;)

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    2. She was in a Star Trek movie and an episode of MST3K. Got in trouble for posing naked on the Enterprise bridge set, or so I hear.

      Delete
  3. Classic!!!

    One of those movies I watched with my children when they were little, and one that we still watch now that they're all grown up. My boys are always using lines from this...

    Yep, they sure don't make them like this anymore.

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  4. The idea that all Kurts charachters end up the same is what we see in our hobby all the time. The player brings his personality to the charachter and the smartass player end up with smartass charachters again and again. Not a bad thing.

    A long time ago i remember seeing a blog post on a magic item that summoned a random Kurt Russell 80's character to help the user. I know it included Snake, Captain Ron,and Jack Burton.

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  5. "The whole ‘adventure’ in the movie reminds me of the way my old group used to play Call of Cthulhu back in high-school: essentially as modern day ‘D&D’ with lots of bad decisions."

    So glad I'm not the only one who played this way. :)

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  6. The eye-creature in the movie seems like a perfect example of how to make a beholder-type creature that doesn't fall under WotC "Product Identity".

    "No, it's not infringing... This is smaller, and it has TWO central eyes, and it has another eye in its mouth!"

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  7. Definitely one of my favorite films of all time. Heard recently (this year) there might be a sequel...

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  8. I actually didn't like it when I saw it in the cinema. Iwas far too adult, and into "serious" fantasy, not this tongue-in-cheek foolishness.

    Luckily I've grown up since. ;)

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  9. I actually didn't like it when I saw it in the cinema. Iwas far too adult, and into "serious" fantasy, not this tongue-in-cheek foolishness.

    Luckily I've grown up since. ;)

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  10. One of my most favorite movies. Ever!

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  11. "The whole ‘adventure’ in the movie reminds me of the way my old group used to play Call of Cthulhu back in high-school: essentially as modern day ‘D&D’ with lots of bad decisions."

    John Carpenter made another classic Call of Cthulhu movie in Prince of Darkness, in which a bunch of academics investigate strange goings on and fail a bunch of Sanity rolls.

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    Replies
    1. Let me just add, I know that with The Thing and In the Mouth of Madness are often linked by their Lovecraftian themes, it seems to me that Prince of Darkness is the most adventure-y of them, and could be run as a fairly straightforward scenario. I suppose you could do The Thing, too, but that would be a gimmicky scenario involving lots of secret notes, GMing in separate rooms, etc.

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    2. There's a lot of The Thing in Forgive Us, but there's a little bit of Prince of Darkness in there too.

      Delete
  12. I read somewhere that this script began life as the sequel to Buckaroo Banzai and the bad guy was Hanoi Xan or whatever his name was. Could probably find details online. Sounds plausible.

    ReplyDelete

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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who divides his time between Milwaukee and Toronto.