Sunday, 8 December 2013

Big Trouble in Little China Pre-Release Blu-ray Review

Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
W.D. Richter (Adaptation)
Gary Goldman
David Z. Weinstein

Directed By
John Carpenter

A TAFT Entertainment Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film

Action, Adventure, Comedy


Kurt Russell as Jack Burton
Kim Cattrall as Gracie Law
Dennis Dun as Wang Chi
James Hong as David Lo Pan
Victor Wong as Egg Shen
Kate Burton as Margo
Donald Li as Eddie Lee

Certificate 15


Following Escape from New York and The Thing, John Carpenter and Kurt Russell re-unite for this mystical, action, adventure, comedy, kung-fu, monster, ghost story!

Russell plays Jack Burton, a reasonable guy who is about to experience some unreasonable things in San Francisco’s Chinatown. As his friend’s fiancĂ©e is kidnapped Jack becomes embroiled in a centuries-old battle between good and evil. At the root of it all is Lo Pan, a 2000-year-old magician who rules an empire of evil spirits. Jack goes to the rescue dodging demons, goblins and the unstoppable Three Storms as he battles through Lo Pan’s dark domain.

 One of Carpenters most enjoyable and best loved films, Big Trouble in Little China brilliantly juggles delirious set-pieces, comedy and kung-fu action with a razor sharp script of corking one-liners, as Jack would say “It’s all in the reflexes”.

The super-deluxe package, which is available both as a standard Blu-ray and as a limited edition Blu-ray SteelBook, is full of special features and bonus material. 

Special Features
  • Audio Commentary with Director John Carpenter and Star Kurt Russell
  • Return to Little China - A Brand New Interview with John Carpenter
  • Being Jack Burton - A Brand New Interview with Kurt Russell
  • Carpenter and I - A Brand New Interview with Cinematographer Dean Cundey
  • Producing Big Trouble - A New Interview with Producer Larry Franco
  • Staging Little Trouble - A New Interview with Stuntman Jeff Imada
  • Interview with visual effects producer Richard Edlund
  • Vintage Making-of featurette featuring cast and crew 
  •  Extended Ending
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Music Video
  • Gallery of behind-the-scenes images
  • 3 original trailers
  • TV Spots
  • Booklet featuring new writing on the film by John Kenneth Muir, author of The Films of John Carpenter, as well as a re-print of an interview with production designer John Lloyd and make-up effects artist Steve Johnson on the design and effects of the film, illustrated with archive stills and posters 
  • The standard release is available with a reversible Sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jay Shaw and the Limited Edition SteelBook is presented with the original iconic Drew Struzan artwork 

When it was first released in cinema's, 'Big Trouble in Little China' was a commercial failure because the marketing people really didn't know how to market the movie and that really hurt it.  Luckily, instead of falling by the wayside like other 80's flops, it found an audience in the home cinema market and slowly but surely won a legion of devoted fans.

Here, those lovely people at Arrow Films have unleashed the movie on to Blu-ray for the first time in the UK and aim to snare some new fans with this release but the question is does it a) live up to the reputation that it has since amassed amongst fans and b) has it aged well in the 27 years since its release?

Firstly, this movie more than lives up to the reputation.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say that it's one of those 80's classics that actually is well deserving of the hype around it.  It's one of those fun, gripping movies that you can watch over and over again without getting bored.  You can also spot new things each time as well because this movie was made during the peak of John Carpenter's creativity and he was known for putting little details throughout his movies.

Cast wise, it honestly couldn't be more perfect for this film.  Kurt Russell, in my opinion, has never bettered his fun, action hero self than his portrayal in this movie.  He's the right mix of cocky, wise cracking guy and cowardly wimp.  I can honestly say that this is one of Russell's best performances out of all his movies.  For me, as a fan, this is completely Kurt Russell's movie.  That said, don't write off  the rest of the cast at all.  They bounce off of each other brilliantly, that's especially the case with Kim Cattrall's portrayal of her character and the relationship between her and the Kurt Russell role.  It had the whole 'will they, won't they' feel to it without feeling cliched at all and that was a welcome change.

However good this classic cult movie is, it's the special features here that really make this Arrow Films release explode to life with the sheer amount of information on offer.  I will readily admit that the special features aren't as mind blowing as the ones in the earlier 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2' release but if you are a fan of the movie itself then you are in for a treat.  There is a good mix of vintage behind the scenes moments and affectionate looks back at the movie from the stars and director.

All in all, I think this is a great release and one that the movie itself finally deserves.  The people in charge of choosing the special features did so with such a love and affection for the movie and that really shows here.  The brand new interviews and even the different art work choices for the covers were superb and it's that eye for detail that really make this Blu-ray an essential purchase not only for fans of the film but for anyone that wants to see an entertaining and exciting movie full of little treats for movie makers and fans out there.

Movie 9/10
Picture 8/10
Sound 9/10
Special Features 8/10
Overall 34/40

'Big Trouble in Little China' is available to buy on Blu-ray from 16th December 2013

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