Big Trouble in Little China (also known as John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China) is a 1986 American martial arts comedy film directed by John Carpenter. It stars Kurt Russell as truck driver Jack Burton, who helps his friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) rescue Wang's green-eyed fiancee (Suzee Pai) from bandits in San Francisco's Chinatown. They go into the mysterious underworld beneath Chinatown, where they face an ancient sorcerer named Lo Pan (James Hong).
Although the film was originally envisioned as a Western set in the 1880s, screenwriter W. D. Richter was hired to rewrite the script extensively and modernize everything. The studio hired Carpenter to direct the film and rushed Big Trouble in Little China into production so that it would be released before a similarly themed Eddie Murphy film, The Golden Child, which was slated to come out around the same time. The project fulfilled Carpenter's long-standing desire to make a martial arts film.
The movie was a commercial failure, grossing $11.1 million in North America and well below its estimated $25 million budget. It received critically mixed reviews that left Carpenter disillusioned with Hollywood and influenced his decision to return to independent film-making. The movie is a cult film due to its success on home video.
Plot[edit | edit source]
Truck driver Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) and his friend, restaurant owner Wang Chi (Dennis Dun), go to the airport to pick up Wang's fiancee Miao Yin (Suzee Pai), who is arriving from China. A Chinese street gang, the Lords of Death, kidnaps Miao Yin, intending to sell her as a sex slave. In Jack's big-rig truck, he and Wang track the Lords of Death to the back alleys of Chinatown, where they find a funeral procession that quickly erupts into a street fight between the Chang Sing and Wing Kong, two ancient Chinese societies. When "The Three Storms" (Thunder, Rain, and Lightning) appear, slaughtering the Chang Sing, Jack tries to escape but runs over Lo Pan (James Hong), a powerful and legendary sorcerer, as well as the leader of the Wing Kong. Horrified, Jack exits his truck, only to be blinded by Lo Pan, who is merely annoyed. Wang hurriedly guides Jack through the alleys, escaping the carnage and mayhem, but Jack's truck is stolen.
Wang takes Jack to his restaurant, where they meet up with lawyer Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall), Wang's friend Eddie Lee (Donald Li), and magician Egg Shen (Victor Wong), a local authority on Lo Pan. They try to explain to an incredulous Jack some of the ancient knowledge and sorcery the Chinese brought with them to America, eventually devising a plan to infiltrate a brothel, where they think Miao Yin is being held. However, the Storms make off with Miao Yin, bringing her to a front owned by Lo Pan. Trying to rescue her, Jack and Wang are quickly subdued by Rain and taken to see Lo Pan, now in the form of a crippled, old man. Wang tells Jack that Lo Pan needs a special green-eyed girl to break an ancient curse, and he intends to sacrifice Miao Yin. When Jack and Wang's friends attempt to save them, they are also captured, and Lo Pan notes that Gracie has green eyes, too. Lo Pan decides to sacrifice Gracie, while making Miao Yin his unwilling wife.
After getting the drop on Thunder, Jack and Wang escape, also freeing many women kept in holding cells. Wang and Jack go to see Egg Shen, and, with the help of the Chang Sing, they enter an underground cavern and reach Lo Pan's headquarters. Egg pours each of the group a potent potion that Jack says makes him feel "kind of invincible." During the wedding ceremony, a huge fight ensues, which Jack misses, due to accidentally knocking himself out. Wang kills Rain in a sword duel, while Jack and Gracie try to catch Lo Pan. Wang joins them, and, just when all seems lost, Jack kills Lo Pan, with a skillful knife throw. Thunder, enraged and dishonored at his failure to protect his master, starts to inflate to an enormous size, exploding and killing himself. Jack, Wang, Gracie, and Miao Yin are cornered by Lightning in a corridor, which he makes collapse. Egg rescues them with a rope and kills Lightning, when he tries to follow. After finding Jack's truck, they escape back to Wang's restaurant.
Lo Pan having been defeated, Egg decides to go on vacation, saying China is in the heart. Jack hits the open road, with an unknown-to-him stowaway – one of the remaining monsters from Lo Pan's labyrinth.