May 19, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Cultwatch! Big Trouble In Little China

Jimmy and Tom have been digging their John Carpenter movies. Will that continue for Big Trouble in Little China?

Jimmy and Tom have been doing these Cultwatch! chats for a while now.  So far, they’ve mostly liked them.  But what happens when they come across one that for some reason doesn’t work for them?

Well, that seems to be the case with today’s chat for Big Trouble in Little China.  With a cameo appearance by William Watson, Esq!

Big Trouble in Little China


tomk:  Well, that is a movie that exists.

jimmy:  Lol…that was almost exactly what I was going to type first.

tomk:  I’m…not sure how much I liked this one.

jimmy:  I know. I kept wanting to like it more than I did, but instead of growing on me I just got more impatient for it to be over.

tomk:  I think I just have a hard time seeing Kurt Russell as a loser.

jimmy:  Yeah. His “undercover” work needs some work.

tomk:  I mean, I get he’s supposed to be a sort of typical American, all swagger with almost nothing to back it up, but I just don’t see any Kurt Russell character that way. I mostly wonder what the movie would have been like with Bruce Campbell in the lead.

jimmy:  Oh…interesting. That might have been awesome.

Or directed by Raimi. (Though Carpenter was fine.)

tomk:  Raimi with Campbell?

jimmy:  Wacky. I know.

tomk:  So, we have Jack Burton, a guy with a high opinion for himself for no clear reason….

jimmy:  And he’s not even like an Ash character who gets the job done in the end. He’s mostly useless and even knocks himself out in the final big brawl.

Yes, he killed Yao Ming or whatever his name was with his “reflexes”, but that’s about it for competence.

tomk:  His only real skill is catching things. I’m not even sure he’s that good at truck driving.

jimmy:  They even question that IN the movie.

tomk:  That’s to the movie’s credit.

I’m just not sure how well it actually works.

jimmy:  I just found the campiness never transcended from bad into enjoyable like, say, They Live.

tomk:  Yeah, I can see that.

Here’s a question: is the movie racist?

jimmy:  Probably.

tomk:  Well, you know me. I always go looking for support.

jimmy:  Agreed. Here’s the true test: ask Ryan.

tomk:  Um, pass.

jimmy:  Heh.

tomk:  So, who’s the real hero here?

jimmy:  Wang Chi if we’re being sensible.

tomk:  And if we aren’t, it’s Lo Pan?

So, when people complain about Iron Man 3’s Mandarin, they just wanted Lo Pan, right?

jimmy:  There was a typo in the prophecy, Tom. They really wanted neither of them.

tomk:  You mean they don’t want a pre-Sex in the City Kim Cattrall or a post-Penthouse Pet and Playboy Playmate Suzee Pai?

jimmy:  Well…maybe the former. But definitely the latter.

tomk:  Well, considering they may be some of the few characters in the movie that didn’t brag about how tough they were or know some sort of martial arts, that makes them extra special.

jimmy:  And Suzee Pai has like one line of dialogue.

tomk:  I’m not sure they hired her for her ability to speak.

jimmy:  No? Then why?

tomk:  For her green eyes obviously.

jimmy:  Of course!

tomk:  Someone has to be rescued all the time in these movies.

Granted, I’m somewhat thinking Jack was the one who needed the most rescuing.

jimmy:  The video you posted above seemed to say that was the point. Jack was always meant to be the “bumbling, full of himself American.”

tomk:  He certainly is that. The one thing I don’t get is why Wang seemed to want to bring him along.

jimmy:  It seemed like the movie’s characters were unaware if it. They all seemed to worship and adore him. Even the old magic potion guy almost loses his shit at the beginning when the police insult Jack.

tomk:  They probably know Jack will cause even more trouble if they don’t placate him.

jimmy:  Probably. So, was there anything here you liked?

tomk:  The special effects looked good for the era.

The martial arts fight scenes were pretty good.

And I always like seeing James Hong in stuff.

jimmy:  Agreed. And had a few funny parts.

tomk:  What about you?

jimmy:  Pretty much the same stuff.

tomk:  This movie is really beloved by a lot of people. Did you ever see it as a kid? That seems to be why people dig it.

jimmy:  I think I may have, but I didn’t really remember it at all. I can see why it is a cult classic, but it didn’t do much for not 10 year old me.

tomk:  Could it be it maybe isn’t that good a movie? Or maybe it didn’t age well?

jimmy:  I think it just wasn’t that great to begin with…but, how you remember something from being a kid, as you said, has a great influence on how people feel about it. I can see 10 year old me digging it.

tomk:  And I only saw it for the first time a couple years ago. I thought maybe there was something I was missing when we decided to review it for this feature.

jimmy:  Maybe it just isn’t for us.

tomk:  Well, as I recall, neither of us cared for Blade Runner either.

jimmy:  True.

Though the writer here should be familiar to ALL the Cultwatch followers.

tomk:  You mean Gary Goldman, writer for the 1990 all-time classic Navy SEALS?

jimmy:  Umm…

tomk:  You meant maybe that Total Recall thing?

We’re not getting too far with this chat. Maybe we should try another movie and move on.

jimmy:  I was thinking more of W.D. Richter who wrote this adaptation and was the director of Buckaroo Banzai.

watson:  NERDS!

tomk:  Oh that guy.

At least we have Buckaroo.

jimmy:  Would you rather re-watch this or Banzai?

tomk:  Buckaroo Banzai. Easy answer for me, but I liked that one more than you did.

jimmy:  True. You know, I think this is probably a better movie, but Banzai is probably more interesting.

tomk:  I don’t know that I agree. This is a more beloved movie for people of a certain age.

And we do normally love John Carpenter.

jimmy:  And Kurt Russell.

tomk:  I would generally take Russell over Peter Weller.

jimmy:  What about Carpenter and Russell?

tomk:  That’s up there with Raimi and Campbell.

jimmy:  Shirley we couldn’t watch another Carpenter/Russell collaboration?

tomk:  Just one? Let’s try two at once.

jimmy:  That’s unpossible!

tomk:  What if they were about escaping cities?

jimmy:  Well, it would have to be two big cities. Maybe one on each coast to keep it fresh.

tomk:  New York and Los Angeles maybe?

jimmy:  That’ll work.

tomk:  Then let’s try those out.

jimmy:  Should we grade before we go?

tomk:  Oh yeah. 7 out of 10 really large wicker hats. That’s barely passing for me.

jimmy:  I’ll go 6.5 beloved by 40 year olds but not us out of 10.

tomk:  Now should we Escape from New York (or LA)?

jimmy:  We should.

NEXT TIME:  Tom and Jimmy are going for a double feature!  Be back soon for a chat about both Escape from New York and Escape from L.A.