April 7, 2009

Justify My Netflix: Big Trouble in Little China

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

Big Trouble in Little China

Today's movie: Big Trouble in Little China, 1986 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix)

Why I added it to my queue: Because it's arguably the masterpiece of venerated cult filmmaker John Carpenter, definitely the best of all the collaborations he's done over the years with former child star Kurt Russell, a nearly perfect combination here of Chinese mysticism and American action-movie derring-do, set in a series of impossibly complex back alleys and endlessly deep basements of San Francisco's Chinatown in the New Wave 1980s. Because it has both the best dialogue and best fight scenes of Carpenter's entire career, and indeed of almost any other funny action cult movie of its time. Because it's been ten years since I've last seen it, and ten years is too long to go without watching this movie yet again.

The reality: Kick f-cking ass. "The Chinese have a lot of hells, Jack."

If I had watched it when it first came out: It would've been my senior year in high school! And I did watch it for the first time then! And it kicked ass just as much then as it does now! Cheese And Rice!

Strangest piece of trivia: Believe it or not, the first draft of Big Trouble's screenplay was set entirely in the 1880s, not the 1980s, even while still maintaining mostly the same storyline, making it originally a steampunk film half a decade before the term was even invented; but after "creative differences" with the original writers (i.e. "What do you mean, rewrite the entire thing a hundred years in the future, you clueless executives?"), they were replaced with WD Richter, creator of fellow bizarre '80s cult actioner Buckaroo Banzai. It's from him that the current film gets most of its sharp, witty dialogue, as well as the concept of a labyrinthine underground to Chinatown that seemingly goes on for miles and miles and miles.

Worth your time? Oh crap yes.

Filed by Jason Pettus at 2:33 PM, April 7, 2009. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |