Blu-ray Review: Big Trouble In Little China (Collector’s Edition)

Recently the announcement arrived that Big Trouble In Little China was being remade with The Rock in the lead. There are some people that are excited, but that didn’t include me. First off, why would anyone want to remake Big Trouble With Little China. Sure the John Carpenter film has gained cult status over the decades. But when the film was released back in the summer of 1986, Big Trouble was a major box office disaster. The film screwed up John Carpenter’s career so badly that he ended up working on a Chevy Chase film. Who wants that? Even more confusing is that there’s no way The Rock can play Jack Burton. Why? Because Dwayne Johnson has never played anything other than The Rock in a starring role. Name one movie with The Rock where you forget you’re staring at The Rock on the screen? He never gets lost in a character. What about Kurt Russell? Sure you might think Kurt’s just playing Kurt, but his role as Jack Burton was different from being Snake Plissken in Escape From New York, The Thing‘s R.J. Macready or Elvis in Elvis in his previous collaborations with John Carpenter. He brought something special to each character. He made Burton cocky yet completely out of his league. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong and The Rock will transform into Jack Burton. But I’m right in declaring Scream Factory’s Big Trouble In Little China: Collector’s Edition is the ultimate way to experience the original movie with bonus features to make you part of the trouble.

Jack Burton, an independent trucker, pulls his Pork Chop Express rig into the San Francisco to unload and get into a betting game with Wang Chi (Life Is Cheap… But Toilet Paper Is Expensive‘s Dennis Dun). When Burton wins big, Wang informs him that he doesn’t have the money on him. It’s back at his restaurant, but they can’t go directly since Wang needs to drop by the airport to pick up his fiancé Miao Yin (Sharky’s Machine‘s Suzee Pai). Burton goes along with the side trip, but then things go bad at airport when in the concourse. Wang spots members of the Lords of Death gang. They aren’t there to welcome back a member. They intend on snagging a woman flying in from China who is being picked up by Gracie Law (Sex and the City‘s Kim Cattrall). In the ensuing chaos, the Lords grab Miao and split. Wang and Burton chase them back to Chinatown where they end up in the middle of a gang war between The Lords of Death and two other groups that gets interrupted when mystical warriors known as The Three Storms arrive. Burton quickly learns that things are going to be weird, but he won’t completely back down because he wants to help his friend get his fiancé back and recover his truck. And who wants the fiancé? David Lo Pan (Kung Fu Panda‘s James Hong) a local businessman who happens to be a 2,000 year old man with an ancient curse that can only be broken with the assistance of a green eyed woman.

Big Trouble In Little China is a film that improves with time unlike other Hollywood films that get embarrassing with their Asian influences. Part of this is the performances from Dun, James Hong and Victor Wong (The Last Emperor) giving the right touches so their characters aren’t showbiz clichés. The film mixes a fun adventure film with amazing action scenes that mix marital arts, guns and magic in equal parts. Jack Burton and his group have to watch out for getting beaten up in a variety of ways as they go deep into Chinatown looking for Lo Pan’s liar. The supernatural elements do not overpower the human elements.

Why did such a fine and fun film tank when it was released? Part of it was pure timing. The martial arts craze that took hold in the early ’70s with Bruce Lee’s movies had turned into Black Belt Theater movie blocks that aired Saturday afternoons on UHF stations. So there was an audience. Unfortunately there was serious competition for that audience. Big Trouble In Little China opened up as The Karate Kid Part II was in a month long run at the top of the box office. Then Aliens arrived. It was a Malachi Crunch that doomed Big Trouble to not get any traction in theaters. At least now you can thoroughly enjoy Big Trouble In Little China without that punk Daniel LaRusso spoiling the fun.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the colors of the wardrobe and the production design. The audio is DTS-HD MA 5.1. The sound mix gets you in the middle of the fights. The movie is subtitled in English.

Audio Commentaries include two new tracks and a vintage chat. The first has producer Larry Franco explaining how the film came together and more. The second is Special Effects Artist Steve Johnson talking to filmmaker Anthony C. Ferrante. If you enjoy the big visuals, Johnson goes deep into how the magical appeared. Finally there’s the vintage commentary with Director John Carpenter And Actor Kurt Russell.

Isolated Score so you can watch the film for just the music.

Theatrical Trailers (7:06) promises you an amazing look into a hidden world with the darkest magic. There’s even an international trailer.

TV Spots (3:09) reminds us that Jack Burton is coming to rescue your summer. Were you there on July 2?

Vintage Audio Interview With John Carpenter (5:49) has him explain the film and talk about working with Kurt Russell for the fourth time. Kurt can do whatever Carpenter wants and understands the camera.

Electronic Press Kit (27:26) are Interviews And Profiles of the stars to promote the film. They’d cut this stuff apart for various entertainment shows.

Gag Reel (2:56) has a great moment where a supernatural creature hits the wall. They were cutting up on the set for a few of these moments. There’s running gag with Carpenter and Victor Wong.

Music Video (3:28) has John Carpenter and his band jamming in the editing suite. I don’t recall MTV putting this in rotation, but you will. There’s a special edition package of this release that includes the 45.

Deleted And Extended Scenes are eight moments snipped out or cut tighter. These are always good for actors who never got to see themselves in the final film.

Extended Ending (3:17) has a bit of unfinished business that was originally snipped for timing.

Photo Galleries includes Movie Stills, Posters, Lobby cards, Publicity Photos, And Behind-the-scenes Photos

You’re The Hero (14:14) interviews actor Dennis Dun. He didn’t want to be an actor. He was a buyer at Macys and took an acting class. He was going to quit acting after 8 years when he offered a role in Year of the Dragon.

The Soul Of Lo Pan (23:57) sits down with the legend that is actor James Hong. He was born in Minnesota where the “Chinatown” was two stores next to each other. He talks about his progress in his long career in acting and working with Gene Wilder (Young Frankenstein).

Able To Be Myself (18:29) catches up with actor Donald Li. He speaks of his break through on a soap opera as Goon #2. He still remembers his lines.

The Tao Of Thunder (25:47) unleashes actor Carter Wong. He is from Macau. He speaks of the various Shaolin styles.

The Tao Of Rain (28:34) gets actor Peter Kwong to talk about growing up in Northern California, panning for gold and square dancing. He also was in Golden Child the year Big Trouble came out. He’ll pop up in an episode of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm next year on HBO.

The Hatchet Man Speaks (6:32) gets a chance hear from actor Al Leong. This should be a delight to anyone who follows the Golan Globus Theater podcast. He talks of growing up in St. Louis. He has a great tale of how he got cast in the film and play the bad guy.

Damn Wiley Prescott (20:31) chats with writer W.D. Richter. He wanted to get back to writing after dealing with studio executives on Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai. He took the rewriting gig. He explains how he only got stuck with an adaptation by credit instead of screen play.

It Was A Western Ghost Story (27:50) allows original script writer Gary Goldman explain his original story and how it was changed. He worked with Lawrence Gordon and Joel Silver for two years before he got into writing scripts.

The Poetry Of Motion (35:01) allows Associate Producer/Martial Arts Choreographer James Lew to talk about getting the action in the film. He wasn’t big into martial arts as a kid.

Into The Mystic Night (12:35) interviews The Coupe De Ville’s Member Nick Castle. His first movie role was with Dean Martin. He speaks of hooking up with John Carpenter to make movie.

Since We Were Kids (28:51) interviews Second Unit Director/The Coupe De Ville’s Member Tommy Lee Wallace. He talks about him and John Carpenter connecting in both music and film. The two met in orchestra.

Love And Art (17:04) is a conversation With Movie Poster Artist Drew Struzan. He talks of what went into the design and attitude of the poster.

Return To Little China (12:14) interview with director John Carpenter. He talks about changing the original script around to be a more modern movie than a western.

Being Jack Burton (20:57) interviews Kurt Russell. He speaks of how his relationship with John Carpenter has changed since being cast in Elvis.

Carpenter And I (15:38) is an Interview With Director Of Photography Dean Cundey. He started out with Carpenter on Halloween after doing a bunch of drive-in movies.

Producing Big Trouble (15:21) is an Interview With Producer Larry Franco. He was married to Kurt’s sister and offered the gig on Elvis from Kurt and he became tight with John Carpenter.

Staging Big Trouble (12:29) is an interview With Stuntman Jeff Imada. He talks about how he got serious into being a stunt man through martial arts.

Interview With Visual Effects Artist Richard Edlund (13:25) has him talking about figuring how to do Lo Pan’s glowing face.

Vintage Featurette (7:26) sets up the film with behind the scenes footage and interviews on the set.

Scream Factory presents Big Trouble In Little China: Collector’s Edition. Directed by: John Carpenter. Screenplay by: Gary Goldman & David Z. Weinstein. Adaptation by: W. D. Richter. Starring: Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun, James Hong & Victor Wong Rated: PG-13. Running Time: 100. Released: December 3, 2019.

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