Big Trouble In Little China is a John Carpenter movie from 1986, in which Kurt Russell plays Jack Burton, a hard-drinking gambler who drives a giant semi truck called The Pork Chop Express, and likes to hang out with his friend Wang in San Francisco Chinatown. When a centuries-old Chinese demon not only kidnaps Wang’s fiancee, but also steals The Pork Chop Express, a martial arts action movie full of monsters and sorcery ensues.
If you haven’t seen it, and you’d like to get your wife or girlfriend to watch it, you should also point out that Kim Cattrall from Sex and the City is the female lead. This was how she springboarded to her career-making title role in Mannequin, I guess.
If you’ve seen it, you probably love it. If it’s not your cup of tea, then you’ve probably either never heard of it or you didn’t get through fifteen minutes of it before turning it off. Different strokes – it’s cool.
But when I was a kid we probably watched it twenty times. It never, never gets dull to me. If nothing’s going on for more than a minute or so a giant monster will just pop onto the screen and eat somebody. These guys were running around on the walls and swordfighting in midair long before The Matrix. And they didn’t take themselves nearly as seriously, either.
At the time, it was a huge flop – its $20 millon budget was nearly the record at the time, and no one saw it in the theatre. It’s a weird kind of movie that doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be, but it knows how to do a bunch of cool stuff. So that’s what it does, it presents you with a cavalcade of cool and hilarious stuff, and the plot, well, it makes about as much sense as anything did, when I was fourteen.
It caught on and became a cult classic. It’s one of those movies that your dorky pals are always cryptically quoting and then cackling about and then explaining to you what they meant even though you didn’t ask. If you want to know if I want to come over to your house right now and throw some hamburgers on the grill and watch Big Trouble in Little China, the answer is yes. Yes, I do.
So for years now, while every other movie franchise you can think of has spit out sequels and remakes and spinoffs and sequels to the spinoffs, this movie, which is just screaming for sequels and modern special effects, suddenly this movie is all about artisitic integrity or something.
I’ve been pacing around for a long time, muttering and frequently weeping about this very subject right here. Will someone please wave enough money under Kurt Russell’s face to get him to play Jack Burton again? He will probably also want some kind of script oversight, and he’ll probably say, this time get rid of Kim Cattrall. Just do what he says and let’s get on with this.
Finally, twenty-five years later, it would appear that the mighty Jack Burton has heard my prayers, for he is about to return.
In graphic novel form, according to my pal Shawn, so I checked it out and he’s right again. It’s called The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 1988. If you are familiar with the first League in either film or graphic novel form, then you know that it brought together several literary characters and made superheroes out of them – Captain Nemo, Allan Quartermain, Mina Harker, Dorian Gray, etc. This new version is going to do the same thing with characters from the eighties.
Some of the art and a synopsis can be found at this link. And Jack Burton made the list.
There he is standing there in his sleeveless rising sun tee shirt, with Doctor Emmet Brown from Back to the Future, B.A. Baracus from The A Team, and MacGyver Himself. Apparently, Mr. Miyagi has been murdered by the Lost Boys (yes the ones from the movie with Corey Haim and Jack Bauer), and this crew has to stop them.
Go on over and look – I’m not making this up. Though it appears maybe they are – it’s set for release April 1, 2011.
The problem is, Kurt Russell is going to be sixty next year, and I’m pretty sure the studios will insist on younger actors playing all of these roles. Star Trek did it and it worked, so studios will start doing it all the time. So that’s fine, I’m going to do myself a favor and get used to the fact that if they really were to put out this graphic novel, and then they really were to make a movie, they would probably not use Kurt Russell.
But either way, the studios should then realize that everybody loves Jack Burton, and get with his further adventures. There’s MacGyver standing right there with him, and he just had a spoof of his movies make stack of cash.
It can feature sixty year-old Jack Burton, he’d still have his swagger and his reflexes. He would still be able to catch knives out of the air if you throw them at him. Indiana Jones is like a hundred and five.
And Jack Burton could kick Indian Jones’ ass. Maybe not Original Indiana Jones, but certainly Sequel Indiana Jones. Sequel Indiana Jones kind of deserves it, too.
What they need to do is turn this practical joke into an actual graphic novel, then get some more Jack Burton graphic novels going, release them after this new one comes out, kind of ride the publicity on up to the inevitable movie. Then release another Big Trouble movie. Lose Cattrall, maybe put a young couple in there – his daughter or something, it worked in Live Free or Die Hard – to keep the twentysomethings happy. Stick ‘em in China.
What the hell is taking so long? It doesn’t seem like I should have to spell everything out for a bunch of multi-billion dollar movie studios. Start kissing Kurt Russell’s butt, go, get busy.
Earlier: The Way of McCheese