AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Big Trouble in Little China
Director: John Carpenter (Dir)
Release Date:   2 Jul 1986
Production Date:   began 7 Oct 1985
Duration (in mins):   99-100
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Cast: Starring Kurt Russell (Jack Burton)  
    Kim Cattrall (Gracie Law)  
    Dennis Dun (Wang Chi)  
    James Hong (Lo Pan)  
    Victor Wong (Egg Shen)  
    Kate Burton (Margo)  
    Donald Li (Eddie Lee)  
    Carter Wong (Thunder)  
    Peter Kwong (Rain)  
    James Pax (Lightning)  
  Featuring Suzee Pai (Miao Yin)  
  Featuring Chao Li Chi (Uncle Chu)  
  Featuring Jeff Imada (Needles)  
  Featuring Rummel Mor (Joe Lucky)  
  Featuring Craig Ng (One Ear)  
    June Kim (White Tiger)  
    Noel Toy (Mrs. O'Toole)  
    Jade Go (Chinese girl in White Tiger)  
    Jerry Hardin (Pinstripe lawyer)  
    James Lew (Chang Sing #1)  
    Jim Lau (Chang Sing #2)  
    Ken Endoso (Chang Sing #3)  
    Stuart Quan (Chang Sing #4)  
    Gary Toy (Chang Sing #5)  
    George Cheung (Chang Sing #6)  
    Jimmy Jue (Wounded Chang Sing)  
    Noble Craig (Sewer monster)  
    Danny Kwan (Chinese guard)  
    Min Luong (Tara)  
    Paul Lee (Chinese gambler)  
  Wing Kong hatchet men: Al Leong    
    Gerald Okamura    
    Willie Wong    
    Eric Lee    
    Yukio G. Collins    
    Bill M. Ryusaki    
    Brian Imada    
    Nathan Jung    
    Daniel Inosanto    
  [and] Vernon Rieta    
    Daniel Wong (Wing Kong security guard)  
    Daniel Eric Lee (Wing Kong security guard)  
  Female Wing Kong guards: Lia Chang    
    Dian Tanaka    
    Donna L. Noguschi    
  [and] Shinko Isobe    

Summary: Egg Shen, a Chinese sorcerer and tour bus driver in San Francisco's Chinatown, recounts the previous night's mysterious occurrences to his attorney. Half a city block exploded in a ball of green flame and the lawyer has a question for his client: where is Jack Burton and his truck? Egg Shen's story begins: Jack Burton, a loudmouth truck driver and world traveler, delivers a load of hogs to Chinatown. Afterwards, Jack begins gambling with some acquaintances, and at the end of the night, only two players remain in the game--Jack, the big winner, and his long-time friend, Wang Chi. Sore at his losses, Wang bets that he can slice a beer bottle in half with a single swipe of his knife and demands that Jack put up his winnings in a final double-or-nothing wager. Jack takes the bet, and when Wang fails to bisect the bottle, Jack reluctantly accepts Wang's marker for the debt. Distrusting of his friend, Jack accompanies Wang to the airport where Want is to pick up his green-eyed fiancée, Miao Yin. At the airport, Jack spies Gracie Law, an attractive blonde. Gracie wards off Jack's advances as she awaits the arrival of her friend, Tara. Unfortunately, just as Tara and Miao Yin arrive, so also do three members of the Chinatown street gang, the Lords of Death. They grab Tara and, when Jack intervenes, the Lords of Death knock him down and take Miao Yin hostage instead. Jack and Wang follow the Lords of Death back to Chinatown, but their pursuit is interrupted by a street fight between the heroic Chang Sing gang and their ruthless enemies, the Wing Kong. As the battle shifts in the Chang Sing's favor, three beings, known as the "Three Storms," appear wielding lightning and other supernatural powers, which they use to slaughter the Chang Sing. In a panic, Jack and Wang drive toward The Three Storms (Rain, Lightning and Thunder), who sidestep the truck. Jack cannot avoid hitting Lo Pan, a powerful Chinese sorcerer. Believing he has just run over a man, Jack gets out of the truck to find Lo Pan unscathed. The sorcerer projects a beam of white light from his eyes, temporarily blinding Jack, who escapes with Wang into a maze of back alleys. Back at Wang's restaurant, his Uncle Chu becomes alarmed when he hears that Lo Pan appeared on the street. Gracie arrives to inform the group that the Lords of Death intend to sell Miao Yin to the White Tiger brothel. Sporting an over-large pair of glasses and naïve demeanor, Jack poses as a new customer at the White Tiger who desires a Chinese girl with green eyes. However, before Jack can get to Miao Yin, the Three Storms descend on the brothel and kidnap Miao Yin. Later, Jack, Wang and Gracie meet with Margo, Gracie's reporter friend, and Eddie, the maitre d' at Wang's restaurant, to plot Miao Yin's rescue. Wang declares he will infiltrate the treacherous Wing Kong Exchange, a trading company that serves as a front for the gang's headquarters and the home of Lo Pan, in order to rescue his fiancée. Jack and Wang talk their way into the Exchange, where they discover a secret elevator that only goes down. The elevator lowers them into a water tank littered with skeletons in chains. Though they do not drown, they are taken captive by Lo Pan, who is now a decrepit and wheelchair-bound old man, rather than the strong, intimidating figure who withstood Jack's truck. Lo Pan questions Wang about Miao Yin's background, hoping to learn if she is the green-eyed bride he requires to appease his demon and restore his youthful form. Jack doubts Lo Pan's claims and slings insults at the supposed immortal, who nonchalantly receives the jabs, only becoming annoyed when he learns Gracie, Margo and Eddie are causing trouble at the front desk. One of the Storms, Thunder, lures Gracie and the others into an elevator where he gasses them into unconsciousness. Meanwhile, Jack and Wang, who have been left blindfolded and bound in wheelchairs, free themselves from their chairs but not the metal room in which they are imprisoned. Stuck where they are, Jack listens to Wang's retelling of the Lo Pan myth. According to legend, the first emperor of China defeated Lo Pan in the year 272 B.C. and imposed upon him the curse of "no flesh," which binds Lo Pan to his frail state and restricts his younger form to a mere mental projection. Just as Wang concludes his tale, Thunder arrives to chain the unconscious Eddie alongside the captives. Pretending they are still bound, Jack and Wang jump Thunder and free their friend. With Thunder imprisoned in the metal room, Jack, Wang, and Eddie fight their way through the compound, liberating Gracie, Margo, and other imprisoned women, but they do not find Miao Yin. When they are cornered in a storage room, Wang uses Kung Fu to incapacitate several Wing Kong and clear a path through the front door. All but Gracie, who is captured by a hairy creature, escape into Egg Shen's awaiting tour bus. The creature takes Gracie before the aged Lo Pan, who giggles excitedly at the sight of a second woman with green eyes. After locking her away with Miao Yin, Lo Pan returns as his youthful projection to inform Gracie of his curse and explain that their union will return his flesh. Putting Gracie in a trance, he begins a series of tests that will determine which of the two women is suited to become his bride. When the outcome of these tests reveal both women to be fitting candidates, Lo Pan decides to marry both. Back at the restaurant, Jack and Wang join up with Egg Shen and the Chang Sing in preparation for a battle with Lo Pan. After stocking up on mystical supplies at Egg Shen's garage, Jack and the small army descend into an underground passage that leads to Lo Pan's subterranean palace. Once inside, Egg Shen gives his companions a magic potion that allows them to "see things no one else can see, do things no one else can do," but not before a floating, multi-eyed creature relays knowledge of their presence to Lo Pan. Through the creature, Lo Pan informs Egg Shen of his plans to sacrifice Gracie and live out his earthly pleasures with Miao Yin. At the wedding ceremony, Lo Pan pierces Miao Yin with the "Needle of Love," initiating his transition into mortal form. However, the ceremony is interrupted when the floating creature once more spots Jack's army lying in wait for Lo Pan to become mortal. A fight ensues, while Lo Pan hurries to complete the ceremony. In the battle, Wang kills one of the Storms, Rain, but Lo Pan escapes with Miao Yin, as do Lighting and Thunder. Jack and the freed Gracie pursue the now-mortal Lo Pan, sparing only a moment for an impassioned kiss. When they catch up with Lo Pan, the sorcerer and Thunder are about to sacrifice Miao Yin in Gracie's place. Wang arrives for support just as Jack intercedes. While Wang and Thunder fight, Jack throws his knife at Lo Pan, but misses. The sorcerer retrieves the blade and heaves the knife back at Jack, who catches and boomerangs it back into Lo Pan's forehead, killing him. Upon seeing his master dead, Thunder inflates himself to unnatural proportions and finally explodes. Lightning appears whipping thunderbolts at the group as they climb from Lo Pan's underground palace to the Wing Kong Exchange, but Egg Shen disables Thunder by dropping a statue of Buddha on his head. In the Exchange the escapees find Jack's truck and flee. Later, happy to be alive and reunited, Jack, Wang, Miao Yin, Gracie, Margo, Eddie and Uncle Chu celebrate at Wang's restaurant. Instead of participating in the celebration, Egg Shen sets off on a well-deserved vacation. Jack leaves San Francisco the way he came into it: on a dark and stormy night; however, unknown to Jack, the hairy creature that abducted Gracie is lurking in the back of his truck. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation  
Production Text: A Taft/Barish/Monash production
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation  
Director: John Carpenter (Dir)
  Tommy Lee Wallace (2d unit dir)
  James Herbert (Unit prod mgr)
  Larry Franco (1st asst dir)
  Matt Earl Beesley (2d asst dir)
Producer: Larry J. Franco (Prod)
  Paul Monash (Exec prod)
  Keith Barish (Exec prod)
  Jim Lau (Assoc prod)
  James Lew (Assoc prod)
Writer: Gary Goldman (Wrt)
  David Z. Weinstein (Wrt)
  W. D. Richter (Adpt)
Photography: Dean Cundey (Dir of photog)
  Steve Poster (Dir of photog, 2d unit)
  Jack Cooperman (Underwater dir of photog, 2d unit)
  Barry Herron (Underwater dir of photog, 2d unit)
  Ray Stella (Cam op)
  Gary Kibbe (Cam op)
  Clyde Bryan (1st asst cam)
  Steve Tate (1st asst cam)
  Larry Davis (2d asst cam)
  Mark Walthour (Gaffer)
  Thomas Marshall (Best boy)
  George La Fountaine (Best boy)
  John Donnelly (Best boy)
  Ronald Cardarelli (Key grip)
  Charles "Tex" Williams [Retired] (Company grip)
  John Shannon (Still photog)
  Panavision (Filmed in)
Art Direction: John J. Lloyd (Prod des)
  Les Gobruegge (Art dir)
Film Editor: Mark Warner (Ed)
  Steve Mirkovich (Ed)
  Edward A. Warschilka (Ed)
  Steven E. Ramirez (1st asst ed)
  J. W. Kompare (Asst ed)
  Nancy Froelich (Asst ed)
  David Jansen (Apprentice ed)
Set Decoration: George R. "Bob" Nelson (Set dec)
  Kent Johnson (Prop master)
  Richard Cowitt (Asst prop master)
  David Evans (Asst prop master)
  Craig Edgar (Set des)
  Steve Schwartz (Set des)
  David Jonas (Prod illustrator)
  Edward Verreaux (Prod illustrator)
  John Lattanzio (Const coord)
  Robert Scaife (Const coord)
  Jim Davis (Const foreman)
  Richard Morgan (Const foreman)
  Ken Scaife (Const foreman)
  John Villarino (Const foreman)
  Larry McGuire (Leadman)
  Donald Krafft (Leadman)
Costumes: April Ferry (Cost des)
  Paul Lopez (Men's cost)
  Michele Neely (Women's cost)
  Oda Groeschel (Set cost)
Music: John Carpenter (Mus)
  Alan Howarth (Mus, in assoc with)
  Scott Grusin (Mus ed)
Sound: Thomas Causey (Sd mixer)
  Joe Brennan (Boom op)
  Darcey Vebber (Boom op)
  William Hartman (Sd eff supv)
  Anthony R. Milch (Spec sd eff supv)
  David Ice (Sd eff ed)
  Eric Lindeman (Sd eff ed)
  Lenny Jennings (Sd eff ed)
  Pieter Hubbard (Sd eff ed)
  Hal Sanders (Sd eff ed)
  Martin Dreffke (Spec sd eff ed)
  David A. Fechtor (Spec sd eff ed)
  Monika Dorfman-Lightstone (Spec sd eff ed)
  David Williams (Spec sd eff ed)
  Laja Holland (Spec sd eff ed)
  Hank Salerno (Supv ADR ed)
  Glad Pickering (ADR ed)
  Bill Voightlander (ADR ed)
  Steve Rice (ADR ed)
  David Poole (Asst ADR ed)
  Gary "Wrecker" Hecker (Foley artist)
  Alicia Stevenson (Foley artist)
  Dean Drabin (Foley mixer)
  Gary Macheel (Sd synthesist)
  Don Bassman (Rerec mixer)
  Richard Overton (Rerec mixer)
  Kevin F. Cleary (Rerec mixer)
  Robert Renga (Rec)
Special Effects: Richard Edlund (Visual eff prod)
  Boss Film Corporation Los Angeles, California (Visual eff crew)
  George Jensen (Visual eff art dir, Boss Film Corporation)
  Joseph Unsinn (Spec eff coord)
  Stanley Amborn (Spec eff asst)
  James Fredburg (Spec eff foreman)
  Randy Cabral (Spec eff tech, Boss Film Corporation)
  Daniel Hutten (Spec eff tech, Boss Film Corporation)
  Neil Krepela (Matte dept supv, Boss Film Corporation)
  Lynda Lemon (Prod coord, Boss Film Corporation)
  George E. Mather (Prod supv, Boss Film Corporation)
  Dennis Michelson (Visual eff ed, Boss Film Corporation)
  Ronald Moore (Eff ed consultant, Boss Film Corporation)
  Thaine Morris (Spec eff foreman, Boss Film Corporation)
  Bill Neil (Dir of photog, Boss Film Corporation)
  James Nelson (Prod adv, Boss Film Corporation)
  Chris Regan (Opt supv, Boss Film Corporation)
  Garry Waller (Spec projects supv, Boss Film Corporation)
  Charles Whiteman (Chief eng, Boss Film Corporation)
  Charles Cowles (Opt cam op, Boss Film Corporation)
  Alan Harding (Opt cam op, Boss Film Corporation)
  Mary Mason (Opt coord, Boss Film Corporation)
  Mary Walter (Opt line-up, Boss Film Corporation)
  Ed Jones (Opt line-up, Boss Film Corporation)
  Brad Kuehn (Opt line-up, Boss Film Corporation)
  Patrick Repola (Lab tech, Boss Film Corporation)
  Brent Boates (Prod illustrator, Boss Film Corporation)
  Claire Wilson (Asst to Richard Edlund, Boss Film Corporation)
  Mindy Rothstein (Prod admin, Boss Film Corporation)
  Dana Miller Schornstein (Asst prod coord, Boss Film Corporation)
  Allen Cappuccilli (Asst to Ronald Moore, Boss Film Corporation)
  Matt Beck (Cam op, Boss Film Corporation)
  Peter Berman (1st asst photog, Boss Film Corporation)
  Virgil Mirano (Still photog, Boss Film Corporation)
  Stefanie Wiseman (Film loader, Boss Film Corporation)
  Patrick Van Auken (Grip, Boss Film Corporation)
  Robert Eyslee (Gaffer, Boss Film Corporation)
  Screaming Mad George (1st tech, Boss Film Corporation)
  Eric Fiedler (1st tech, Boss Film Corporation)
  Richard Ruiz (Chief eff moldmaker, Boss Film Corporation)
  Steve Johnson (Creatures created by, Boss Film Corporation)
  Dave Kelsey (Creature shop coord, Boss Film Corporation)
  Dale Brady (Creature crew, Boss Film Corporation)
  Kevin Brennan (Creature crew, Boss Film Corporation)
  Theresa Burkett (Creature crew, Boss Film Corporation)
  Roberto Carlos (Creature crew, Boss Film Corporation)
  Craig Caton (Creature crew, Boss Film Corporation)
  Ken Diaz (Creature crew, Boss Film Corporation)
  Alex Felix (Creature crew, Boss Film Corporation)
  Ed Felix (Creature crew, Boss Film Corporation)
  Eddie Garcia (Creature crew, Boss Film Corporation)
  Jim Kagel (Creature crew, Boss Film Corporation)
  Makio Kida (Creature crew, Boss Film Corporation)
  Ron Macinnes (Creature crew, Boss Film Corporation)
  Dave Matherly (Creature crew, Boss Film Corporation)
  Lesa Nielsen (Creature crew, Boss Film Corporation)
  Roberto Olivas (Creature crew, Boss Film Corporation)
  Wayne Strong (Creature crew, Boss Film Corporation)
  Mark Wilson (Creature crew, Boss Film Corporation)
  Mark West (Des eng, Boss Film Corporation)
  Jerry Jeffress (Electronics, Boss Film Corporation)
  Robin Leyden (Electronics, Boss Film Corporation)
  Robert Wilcox (Electronics, Boss Film Corporation)
  Paul Van Camp (Software programmer, Boss Film Corporation)
  Ken Dudderar (Precision cinetechnician, Boss Film Corporation)
  Mark Matthews (Precision cinetechnician, Boss Film Corporation)
  Paulette Fine (Prod accountant, Boss Film Corporation)
  Jon Schreiber (Prod asst, Boss Film Corporation)
  Sue Alpert (Prod asst, Boss Film Corporation)
  Dan Curry (Titles des)
  Cinema Research Corporation (Titles by)
  Pacific Title (Opticals by)
Make Up: Ken Chase (Makeup supv)
  Susan Kalinwoski (Hair stylist)
Production Misc: Joanna Merlin (Casting)
  Pamela Rack (Casting assoc)
  Central Casting (Extra casting )
  Sandy King (Scr supv)
  Theresa Curtin (Asst to Mr. Franco and Mr. Carpenter)
  Kim-Kasey Costello (Asst to Mr. Monash)
  Christine Baer (Secy to prod)
  James Lew (Martial arts choreog)
  Jim Lau (Martial arts consultant)
  Mary Sutton Hallmann (Prod coord)
  Artist Robinson (Prod consultant)
  Linda Brachman (Prod consultant)
  Sandra Holden (Prod secy)
  Peter J. Silbermann (Marketing supv)
  Daniel Kwan (Marketing coord)
  Alan Ebner (Unit pub)
  Harry Kohoyda (Prod accountant)
  Gary Weddington (Asst auditor)
  Eddie Lee Voelker (Transportation coord)
  Steve Duncan (Transportation capt)
  Steve Shkolnik (Loc mgr, Los Angeles)
  John Bush (Loc mgr, San Francisco)
  Dr. Morton Greenspoon (Contact lenses by)
  Joe Regis (Album coord)
Stand In: Kenny Endoso (Stunt coord)
  Richard Warlock (Stunts)
  Jack S. West (Stunts)
  Jeff Imada (Stunts)
  Dennis R. Scott (Stunts)
  Robert Cummings (Stunts)
  Phil Chong (Stunts)
  Tom Bergman (Stunts)
  Mike Washlake (Stunts)
  Conan Lee (Stunts)
  Gary McLarty (Stunts)
  Kelly Akai (Stunts)
  T. K. Anthony (Stunts)
  Simone Boisseree (Stunts)
  Janet Brady (Stunts)
  David Cadiente (Stunts)
  Chuck Clarke (Stunts)
  Debbi A. Davison (Stunts)
  Eddy Donno (Stunts)
  Ellarye (Stunts)
  George Endoso (Stunts)
  Ken Fritz (Stunts)
  Mark Giardino (Stunts)
  Kent Hays (Stunts)
  Bobby Itaya (Stunts)
  Denise Kellogg (Stunts)
  Ginger K. Miyazaki (Stunts)
  James Nickerson (Stunts)
  Sherri Nickerson (Stunts)
  Beth Nufer (Stunts)
  Bill Saito (Stunts)
  Steve Santo (Stunts)
  Hayward Soo Hoo (Stunts)
  Leland Sun (Stunts)
  Tamiko (Stunts)
  Joe A. Tornatore Jr. (Stunts)
  Dean Wein (Stunts)
  Eddie Wong (Stunts)
  Harry Wong (Stunts)
  Joseph K. Wong (Stunts)
Animation: Annick Therrien (Tech anim supv, Boss Film Corporation)
  Rebecca Petrulli-Heskes (Tech anim, Boss Film Corporation)
  Samuel Recinos (Tech anim, Boss Film Corporation)
  Glen Chaika (Anim, Boss Film Corporation)
  Jeff Howard (Anim, Boss Film Corporation)
  Mauro Maressa (Anim, Boss Film Corporation)
  Peggy Regan (Anim, Boss Film Corporation)
  Renee Holt (Asst anim, Boss Film Corporation)
  Margaret Craig-Chang (Asst anim, Boss Film Corporation)
  Deborah Ann Gaydos (Asst anim, Boss Film Corporation)
  Eusebio Torres (Asst anim, Boss Film Corporation)
Color Personnel: Bob Hagans (Col timer)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Country: United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs: "Big Trouble in Little China," written by John Carpenter, performed by "The Coupe De Villes."
Composer: John Carpenter
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. 10/7/1986 dd/mm/yyyy PA291701

PCA NO: 27922
Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby Stereo in selected theatres
  col: DeLuxe

 
Genre: Adventure
Sub-Genre: Action
 
Subjects (Major): Abduction
  Chinese Americans
  Immortality
  San Francisco (CA)--Chinatown
  Sorcerers
  Truck drivers
 
Subjects (Minor): Amateur radio
  Brothels
  Chinese restaurants
  Elevators
  Engagements
  Gambling
  Gang wars
  Marriage--Forced
  Martial arts
  Mysticism
  Potions
  Reporters
  Rescues
  Secret passageways
  Sewers
  Spells
  Tongs (Secret societies)

Note: The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Michael Thielvoldt, a student at University of Texas at Austin, with Tom Schatz as academic advisor.

       The film's opening credits begin after an introductory scene, in which the character, "Egg Shen," recounts the previous night's events to his lawyer. In a DVD commentary recorded in 2000, director John Carpenter revealed this scene was shot after production wrapped at the request of Barry Diller, then-chairman and chief executive officer of Fox, Inc. According to Carpenter, Diller, who also helped write the scene, did not feel the character, "Jack Burton," was "heroic enough." He requested the scene in which Egg Shen explicitly proclaims Jack a courageous man to balance the film's generally comedic depiction of the character. Carpenter, who admits liking the scene, stated the film would otherwise have begun with Jack driving.      
       As noted in the onscreen credits, Carpenter wrote the film's title song, "Big Trouble in Little China" and, according to his commentary, he also sang the song, performing as one-third of The Coupe De Villes band. Other members of the band were Carpenter's school friends from University of Southern California: Tommy Lee Wallace, director of Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), and Nick Castle, director of The Last Starfighter (1984) and the man behind the Michael Myer's mask in Carpenter's original Halloween (1978). (See entries.) A 21 Jun 1986 Billboard news item announced Pendulum Productions wrapped production on the Tony Greco-directed The Coupe de Villes music video for the song, "Big Trouble in Little China," and that the video was scheduled to release before the motion picture.
       In the DVD commentary, Kurt Russell acknowledged that Richard Warlock served as his stunt double in the film. Russell additionally recalled that he and Warlock worked together for twenty-two years.
       A 29 Jun 1986 LAT article reported Paul Monash and Keith Barish Productions optioned screenwriters Gary Goldman and David Weinstein's Big Trouble in Little China script in Mar 1983, but after "relatively minor" re-writes and disinterest from potential name directors, the project was shelved until 1984 when Monash and Barish re-optioned the script. With interest and investment from Twentieth Century-Fox, Monash and Barish hired W. D. Richter for re-writes. Richter transferred what originally was a straightforward Western to a contemporary kung fu comedy, changing the Kurt Russell character from a cowboy into a truck driver, and the character, "Gracie Law," from a woman who runs a safe house for former Chinese prostitutes to a lawyer. The article claimed that, after the re-writes, Goldman and Weinstein were at first given "story credit," but eventually their names were taken off the project. Upset at losing their writing credits, Goldman and Weinstein went into Writers Guild arbitration in spring 1986. The arbitration decision returned full story and screenplay credits to Goldman and Weinstein and changed Richter's credit to read "adapted by." Var , HR , NYT and LAT film reviews reflected the amended credits, as do the film's opening credits.
       An 8 Oct 1985 HR news item announced that production began 7 Oct 1985, in Los Angeles. In his interview with Gilles Boulenger, Carpenter confirmed that the initial establishing shots of Jack driving into San Francisco and its Chinatown were filmed on location in the city, but that the majority of scenes that followed were shot on sets at Twentieth Century-Fox studios. Carpenter claimed that one of these sets was later used for an unidentified Janet Jackson music video. A 10 Aug 1985 Los Angeles-Herald Examiner news item reported the production budget as $18 million, though, in DVD commentary, Carpenter indicated that the budget was originally more than $20 million, before the studio made him reduce it.
       In Boulenger's 2001 book and in DVD commentary, Carpenter identified a number of sources as inspiration for scenes, wardrobe, and characters. Carpenter named the Tsui Hark-directed kung fu film, Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain , as the film's "biggest inspiration," describing specifically the flying sword fights in Zu Warrior . Additionally, the director identified the Taiwanese picture, Swords of Fame , which he claimed partially influenced the wardrobe and was the source of inspiration for the projected Chi-warrior sword fight between Egg Shen and Lo Pan during the climactic battle. Although a Boulenger footnote claimed the film "tells the story of two swordsmen in ancient China using magic to duel each other," no other information about Swords of Fame could be found. Carpenter also recalled that the giant straw hats worn by the Three Storms were modeled after the masters in the samurai compilation, Shogun Assassin , also known as Lone Wolf and Cub . Finally, Carpenter acknowledged Russell played the character, "Jack Burton," as a "blow-hard John Wayne." Russell's channeling of Wayne was recognized in many contemporary film reviews, though often negatively, as in the case of a 2 Jul 1986 LAT review in which Michael Wilmington called Russell's performance a "whiny, overly bellicose John Wayne impersonation."
       Although articles in Var , HR , and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner , asserted that Kate Burton made her motion picture debut as the film's eager reporter, "Margo," Burton had previously appeared on television, stage and in an uncredited role at the age of eleven in Universal's Anne of the Thousand Days (1969, see entry), which starred her father, Richard Burton.
       A 17 Oct 1985 Los Angeles Herald Examiner article written by Jack Searles reported that the Asian American community became upset over the picture, after Asian Pacific Media Group read an early draft of the script. The group complained the script contained negative stereotypes of Chinese-Americans. Stewart Kwoh, director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, cited the script's inclusion of numerous Chinese prostitutes, tong wars, and a Dragon Lady/madam character as specific offenses. Kwoh claimed that the Media Watch wanted only to provide Fox their concerns before the picture was made, but indicated that neither Fox chairman/chief executive, Barry Diller, nor Big Trouble in Little China executive producer, Keith Barish, responded to the group's letters and the studio did not answer the group's subsequent phone calls. A 11 Jul 1986 LAT article reported that Asian American organizations were protesting the film and that protestors arrived at a San Francisco location in Nov 1985 where they distributed leaflets claiming the movie features "a macho , smart-aleck white truck driver and his Chinese 'yes' man." The film's negative publicity came in the wake of similar backlash over MGM/UA's 1985 release The Year of the Dragon (see entry). A 15 Nov 1985 DV article stated that the groups objecting to TheYear of the Dragon were the same groups contacting Fox about Big Trouble in Little China . Articles in Var , LAT , and Los Angeles Herald Examiner similarly linked the two films. In a 17 Oct 1985 Los Angeles Herald Examiner article, Fox spokesman John DeSimio attempted to deflect negative interpretations of the picture by distancing Big Trouble in Little China from Year of the Dragon , emphasizing the films' different story lines and genres and by pointing out that James Hong, who plays a significant role in the film as Lo Pan, was a past president of the Association of Asian American Artists.
       In the DVD commentary, Carpenter explained in detail how he executed various shots and sequences. To ensure the actors' safety during the filming of the scene in which Jack and Wang are nearly run over by the fleeing Lords of Death, Carpenter shot the scene backwards, having the actors perform their actions in reverse. Carpenter additionally noted that the inclined Wing Kong Express corridor was, in fact, a false perspective set that was flat, but shot at an angle to create the illusion of an incline. At one point Jack rolls backwards in a wheelchair, down the corridor. This was accomplished by putting the wheelchair on a track that pulled it backwards, while Russell acted as if he was careening out of control. Finally, Carpenter shot the aerial sword fight in the climactic battle scene with stationary actors and using rear projected images flashing behind them to create the illusion of flying.
       A 14 May 1986 Var news item announced Twentieth Century Fox's intentions to release Big Trouble in Little China , along with two of its other summer releases, Aliens and Space Camp (see entries), in 70mm prints. Tom Sherak, president of domestic distribution for Fox's motion picture division, estimated the print order might reach as high as two hundred prints in the studio's attempt to "extend its marketing edge in every way possible."
       In DVD commentary, Russell claimed that critical anticipation was high, due to positive pre-release screening numbers. However, upon release, critical reception was primarily negative. At a time when "Indiana Jones," the iconic character portrayed by Harrison Ford in several films, was immensely popular, a 29 Jun 1986 LAT news item indicated many viewers considered the Big Trouble in Little China "a retread of a ' Raiders of the Lost Ark '-style adventure." In addition, many reviewers saw the picture as haphazard and ineffectual. In a 30 Jun 1986 HR review, Dennis Fischer called the screenplay, which he credited to Richter, "an awkward amalgam of hurried exposition and action scenes." While he acknowledged the film's high production value, specifically the "flashy" special effects, he wrote: "Galloping off in several directions at once, it ends up going nowhere, except possibly into second-run theaters in Chinatown." In a 2 Jul 1986 LAT review, critic Wilmington expressed disappointment in a picture with many right players, but more wrong decisions, calling it "a try at mock-Oriental movie magic that goes leaden about a third of the way through--and finally detonates into great, whomping firebombs of overcalculated, underinsured absurdity." A 2 Jul 1986 Var review concluded the film "suffers from production overkill and confused direction." This same review correctly predicted that the film would be a box office disappointment. An 11 Jul 1986 LAT article, citing DV as its source, reported the film's box office gross after five days as $3,827,185. According to the online site, Box Office Mojo , the domestic total gross was $11.1 million, a little over half the film's production budget, but this information has not been otherwise confirmed.
       Although the film was a financial and critical disappointment, it has since gained cult status. As of 2011, AMC's Filmsite lists the film as one of its "Modern Greatest Cult Films," and it made Screen Rant 's cult movies "Top 10" list. Additionally, RottenTomatoes , which calculates its ratings based on critical response, lists the film's "freshness rating" at eighty-two percent.
       The World of Spectrum archive catalogues a Big Trouble in Little China video game, released in 1986 for the ZX Spectrum 48K system. The game was published by Software Studios and Focus Creative Enterprises Ltd and was originally priced at 9.99 British pounds.
 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Billboard   21 Jun 1986.   
Box Office   Sep 1986.   
Daily Variety   15 Nov 1985.   
Hollywood Reporter   8 Oct 1985.   
Hollywood Reporter   30 Jun 1986   p. 4, 12.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner   10 Aug 1985.   
Los Angeles Herald Examiner   17 Oct 1985   Section C, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times   18 May 1986.   
Los Angeles Times   1 Jun 1986.   
Los Angeles Times   29 Jun 1986   Calendar, pp. 27-28.
Los Angeles Times   2 Jul 1986   Calendar, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times   11 Jul 1986.   
New York Times   2 Jul 1986   p. 29.
Variety   14 May 1986.   
Variety   2 Jul 1986   pp. 13-14.

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