Big Trouble in Little China

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"All I know is, this Lo Pan character comes out of thin air in the middle of a goddamn alley while his buddies are flying around on wires cutting everybody to shreds, and he just stands there waiting for me to drive my truck straight through him with light coming out of his mouth!"
Jack Burton

One of John Carpenter's greatest films, written by J.D. Richter and released in 1986.

Kurt Russell is Jack Burton, a long-haul trucker with a penchant for making soliloquies over the CB. He's in Chinatown to meet his buddy Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) and pick up Wang's fiancee Miao Yin (Suzee Pai) from the airport, but David Lo Pan (James Hong) kidnaps her with the help of his Wing Kong street gang and the Three Storms.

Jack, Wang, lawyer Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall), tour bus driver Egg Shen (Victor Wong), and the Chang Sing street gang join forces to rescue Miao Yin from the deathless Lo Pan, but Jack's really in it to get his truck back.

Subverts a few tropes of the action hero genre. Most notably, as stated by both Carpenter and Russell in the DVD commentary: "This is a movie about a guy who thinks he's the Action Hero when he's really the comic sidekick."

Don't confuse this with Chinatown. Hilarity will not ensue.

Tropes used in Big Trouble in Little China include:


Jack: That is not water.
Egg: Black blood of the earth.
Jack: What, you mean oil?
Egg: I mean black blood of the earth!

  • Executive Meddling: The first scene was added later at the insistence of Studio Executives who just didn't get the Supporting Protagonist story line.
  • Eye Scream: Averted with Lo Pan's sentry monster. Despite being nearly made of eyes, it dies due to a precision sword strike between them.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Lo Pan's spherical spy monster has eyes on stalks, on its back, and even one in its mouth.
  • Femme Fatalons: David Lo Pan can grow these at will.
  • Finger-Snap Lighter
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: Jack tries it and Reality Ensues, with bits of the ceiling falling on his head and knocking him out.
  • Friendly Local Chinatown
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: David Lo Pan's long wispy beard definitely qualifies as Evil Hair.
  • Green Eyes: Gracie Law and Miao Yin. Big Bad David Lo Pan has to sacrifice a woman with green eyes to become whole again.
  • Groin Attack: Gracie Law to Lo Pan's humanoid monster when it grabs Jack Burton.
  • Hand Wave: One of the classics. When Jack asks Egg Shen how he managed to get up above them, Egg replies, "Wasn't easy!"
  • Hellevator: How does it know which way to go without anyone pressing buttons? Ancient Chinese secret.
  • Hero Ball: Jack and Wang juggle it. Wang is more martially competent and properly motivated; but Jack is the one who comes up with the ideas and keeps saving everyone else's life.
  • Hero-Tracking Failure: When the security guards are shooting at Jack Burton.
  • Hey, Catch!: Jack Burton says "It's all in the reflexes".
  • Hooked Up Afterwards: Margo invites Eddie over to her apartment in a very seductive way.
  • How We Got Here: The film opens with a lawyer asking Egg Shen to explain what exactly went down in Chinatown. While the film does explain what went down, it doesn't explain what led to the conversation with the lawyer (who never appears outside the opening scene).
    • Well, the lawyer does say that a large segment of Chinatown exploded in green flame and that someone fingered Egg as connected to it. That is generally the kind of thing that could get you in legal trouble.
  • Humble Goal: All Jack really wants is to get his truck back.
  • If I Don't Come Back:...

Jack: (wink) call the President.

Margo: "I feel like I'm in over my head."
Eddie: [kindly] "You are."