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( 1986)

Big Trouble in Little China

    January 23, 2025


   Sturges-Young Center for the Arts

   Main Stage/Theatre



Big Trouble in Little China (also known as John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China) is a 1986 American fantasy action-comedy film co-scored and directed by John Carpenter, and starring Kurt RussellKim CattrallDennis Dun and James Hong. The film tells the story of truck driver Jack Burton (Russell), who helps his friend Wang Chi (Dun) rescue Wang’s green-eyed fiancée from bandits in San Francisco’s Chinatown. They go into the mysterious underworld beneath Chinatown, where they face an ancient sorcerer named David Lo Pan (Hong), who requires a woman with green eyes to marry him in order to be released from a centuries-old curse.[4]

Although the original screenplay by first-time screenwriters Gary Goldman and David Z. Weinstein was envisioned as a Western set in the 1880s, screenwriter W. D. Richter was hired to rewrite the script extensively and modernize it. The studio hired Carpenter to direct the film and rushed Big Trouble in Little China into production so that it would be released before a similarly themed Eddie Murphy film, The Golden Child, which was slated to come out around the same time. The project fulfilled Carpenter’s long-standing desire to make a martial arts film.

Despite receiving generally positive reviews, the film was a commercial failure, grossing $11.1 million in North America, below its estimated $19 to $25 million budget. This left Carpenter disillusioned with Hollywood and influenced his decision to return to independent filmmaking. In later years, the film gained a steady audience on home video, and has become a cult classic.

Truck driver Jack Burton wins a bet with his friend Wang Chi. To make sure he follows through on payment, Jack accompanies him to the airport to pick up Wang’s Chinese fiancée Miao Yin, where a Chinese-American street gang, the Lords of Death, tries to kidnap another Chinese girl. She is being met by her friend Gracie Law. After Jack intervenes, they take Miao Yin instead.

Jack and Wang track the Lords of Death to Chinatown, where they find a funeral procession that erupts into a battle between the Chang Sing and Wing Kong, two ancient Chinese warrior societies. When “The Three Storms” – Thunder, Rain, and Lightning, warriors with weather-themed powers – appear, slaughtering the Chang Sing, Jack attempts to gun his big-rig through the crowd, but runs over David Lo Pan, a man directing the Three Storms. Horrified, Jack exits his truck, but finds Lo Pan unhurt and glowing with magic. Wang hurriedly guides Jack through the alleys; they escape, but Jack’s truck is stolen.

Film Information

Directed byJohn Carpenter
Written by
Adaptation by
Produced byLarry J. Franco
CinematographyDean Cundey
Edited bySteve Mirkovich
Mark Warner
Edward A. Warschilka
Music byJohn Carpenter
Alan Howarth
Distributed by20th Century Fox[1]
Release date
  • July 2, 1986
Running time
99 minutes[1]
Monday-Thursday 9:00 am-4:30 pm
Friday & Saturday by Appointment
Sunday Closed


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