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With: Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Suzee Pai, Dennis Dun, James Hong, Victor Wong, Kate Burton
Written by: W.D. Richter, Gary Goldman, David Z. Weinstein
Directed by: John Carpenter
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 99
Date: 07/01/1986

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Laughing Dragon

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

20th Century Fox recently dusted off some of the action titles in its vaults and sent them off for a second life on DVD. And what do you know? They turned up a couple of underrated gems, truly deserving of a second look. The big event, and by far the most exciting title in this package, is John Carpenter's under-appreciated Big Trouble in Little China. It's a goofy mix of comic books, kung-fu, and Indiana Jones in a movie that left most people scratching their heads.

Kurt Russell plays a fearless parody of an action hero, a truck driver talking in a John Wayne voice and swaggering along, completely useless. During a stopover in San Francisco's Chinatown, he gets caught up in a kidnapping scheme involving an ancient underworld Chinese warlord who, in order to become human again, attempts to perform a ceremony sacrificing a girl with green eyes. Actually, the plot takes a back seat to the silly dialogue, the goofy monsters, the wild kung-fu (not as polished as the classic Peking Opera Blues, released the same year), and the unsullied, eye-opening adventure. As usual, Carpenter uses his widescreen frame to maximum effect -- either for suspense, dazzling homemade special effects, or just for fun.

Fox's double-disc DVD set packs a treasure trove of goodies, one of the best packages I've ever seen. It contains outtakes from the film, several trailers, magazine articles, an interview with effects guru Robert Edlund, a still gallery, a music video, and more. Best of all is an outstanding commentary track by Russell and Carpenter, who have made five films together. They have such a great time laughing and talking that they even go off on tangents, talking about their kids and the latest happenings in their lives. Big Trouble in Little China is a bargain at twice the price. Unfortunately, this Special Edition DVD has reportedly gone out of print, but there's still a single disc edition for sale, which is better than nothing.

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