Wednesday, September 07, 2005

It's all in the reflexes: "Big Trouble in Little China"

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Kurt Russell as Jack Burton:

"When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, looks you crooked in the eye and asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like that: 'Have ya paid your dues, Jack?' 'Yes sir, the check is in the mail.'"

So begins "Big Trouble in Little China," easily one of my all-time favorite mediocre movies.

Russell lays those words of wisdom on us while talking to his CB as his truck rambles down a highway to San Francisco, where a delivery of pigs to Chinatown leads him into the middle of a mess of magic, Chinese gangs and all sorts of other fun. As one of the movie's taglines claims, it's a Mystical, Action, Adventure, Comedy, Kung Fu, Monster, Ghost Story!

As you read in my "Sky High" post, I'm partial to Russell. I also apparently have a soft spot for John Carpenter, director of "Trouble." Those two have teamed up a couple of times; other efforts include "Escape from New York" and "The Thing." Sure, Carpenter is famous for "Halloween," but his lesser-known stuff can be quirky and amusing. Who among us can forget Rowdy Roddy Piper strutting into a bank in "They Live" and announcing, "I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubble gum."

Russell gets similarly good lines here as a trucker who stumbles into some weird sh*t in Chinatown. Best we can tell, some old Chinese dude has kidnapped a woman for a ritual that will make him immortal ... or mortal. Truth is, I never really figured it out. But Russell and his buddy, the woman's fiance, try to rescue her, leading to all kinds of danger and fun. Those two definitely aren't mutually exclusive.

This thing I love about "Trouble" is that Russell has no problem hamming it up, and his "adventure hero" is pretty over the top. He and Carpenter really are a good match, since the director never seems to take a movie seriously, either. You wonder if he made the original "Halloween" now if Michael Myers would be delivering odd quips before taking people out.

PROGRAM NOTE: I'll be on vacation for the next several days, meaning you probably won't see any posts for a week or so. There, there ... I'm pretty sure the world won't stop spinning.


At 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has been a while since I have seen this movie but doesn't kurt russel's character get knocked out at the beginning of every fight scene and doesn't his friend do all the butt kicking?


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