Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Big Trouble in Little China

  So this is a personal favorite John Carpenter movie starring Kurt Russell as the iconic Jack Burton. Jack and his buddy Wang Chi get mixed up in big adventure and serious trouble when in their efforts to rescue Wang's beautiful fiancee from some local thugs, they stumble onto a mysterious supernatural battle in the grimy alleyways of Chinatown. It's a thrill a minute movie set up like an arcade game. Each set piece plays like a video game level in a retro sidescroller full of non-stop action.

  This is one of those movies that I like to say puts the magic back into a Saturday matinee.  It's funny and exciting and well made. It's just the right blend of comedy and action. The comedy is hilarious, and the action is gleefully over-the-top. This movie is a roller coaster ride full of mystic thunder gods, big all out kung-fu gang wars, truck chases, underground lairs, shootouts, fist fights, sword fights, creepy monsters, cool special effects, Chinese black magic and lots of iconic one-liners. Kurt Russell is awesome as Jack Burton. He's this scuzzy truck driver, but charismatic and a hero at heart. Even if he claims he's only there cause he wants his truck back...

  His intrepid sidekick, Wang Chi is this irresistibly energetic, high-kicking, character who has perfect chemistry with Jack. They're like Han Solo and Chewbacca. Kirk and Spock.  Sherlock and Watson. You can't separate em, and you wouldn't want to even if you could. It also dons on me that Big Trouble is not unlike an old school, side-scrolling, beat-em-up video game. This is arcade room gold. You play a rough-and-tumble truck driver who only wants his truck back, but ends up having to rescue the damsel in distress. Stage one? Chinatown wars- boss battle? Thunder gods! It's so much fun, and so crazy.

  It definitely has an old school comic book/video game vibe, and that's never a bad thing. From the music, to the vibrant colors, pacing, and beyond. This movie is a big ball of non-stop fun. Even it's sense of humor matches the zaniness of the rest of it. The hero saves the day with lipstick smudged on his face from the obligatory kiss he got once he rescued the girl. It's silly, but it works and it makes me smile. As you might have gathered, the acting in this movie is unapologetically melodramatic, but it fits the overall tone. Not to mention the pacing is so breakneck you could care less.

   The movie only stops every so often to provide the clueless Jack Burton with some fleeting answers to his bewildered questioning as to "Just what the hell is going on?", which conveniently advances the story and provides some exposition, and then again so the heroes can briefly plot their next move. This isn't such a bad move, since the movie feels practically animated in it's energy. There's no time to stop, a girl's life is on the line! Thus the movie plays to the urgency of a kidnapped damsel in distress, there's no time to do anything except... well... save the day- and, watching them save the day is a blast when they're pitted against the mystical Chinese underworld populated with sorcerers and demons. Great movie. Great fun. Classic.

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