Since Stanley Gray stepped in to take care of Massachusetts today in our tour of urban legends in the 50 U.S. states, I decided to review an urban fantasy movie. Big Trouble In Little China is a cult urban fantasy classic.
“Ok, Paolinelli,” you are probably exclaiming at this point, “you’ve finally lost it. How in the world is this movie an urban fantasy film?”
Well, dear reader, let me tell you exactly why it is:
The movie opens with truck driver Jack Burton (Kurt Russsell) winning a bet with his friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) and of course, Wang doesn’t have the money with him. So Burton sticks to his friend until he gets the money. He takes Wang to the airport to pick up Wang’s fiancee, Miao Yin (Suzee Pai). Also arriving at the airport is Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall) who is picking up a young Chinese girl.
Then all hell breaks loose. A Chinese street gang is also there to kidnap the young girl Gracie is to meet. Burton intervenes and in the melee, Miao is taken by the gang instead. Jack and Wang take off in pursuit and we are now introduced to the urban fantasy portion of our film.
It seems an ancient group with wizard-like powers has been operating in Chinatown and the old wizard, David Lo Pan (James Hong), requires a certain green-eyed woman to break an ancient curse. Yes, the woman Gracie was meeting was that special young woman. But Miao also has green eyes and Lo Pan is proceeding with his plans.
A rescue attempt is made, Gracie is captured (see has green eyes too and Lo Pan isn’t being picky) and a major battle erupts underground as Jack attempts to rescue the girls and get his beloved truck back too.
The Verdict: Yes It Is Urban Fantasy
The film takes place in a big city. It has a wizard and sorcery. It even has some pretty good fight sequences and just enough comedy – the scene in the elevator after Jack and the boys have taken a potion for example – so the film doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s also a pretty good film if you want a fun movie night.
I know there is a remake in the works, but the original 1986 film doesn’t need a remake. A sequel, maybe, but that should have been done years ago so we could have the original actors back in their roles.