BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986) screens at the Nuart Theatre on Friday night at midnight. Thisodd-ball films is a not wholly satisfying attempt to transfer the fun and excitment of Hong Kong fantasy flicks like ZU, WARRIORS OF THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN to the United States. The usually reliable director John Carpenter cannot quite capture the visceral thrills of his model - the action scenes feature lots of snazzy effects but few real thrills - but the whole thing is just whacky enough to hold attention. The script was allegedly conceived as a Western before going through a series of rewrites to turn it into the fanciful concoction that emerged on screen (resulting in one of those odd screenplay credits: written by Gary Goldman & David Z. Weinstein, Adaptation by W.D. Richter [who did the final draft]). Kurt Russell does a John Wayne impersonation as the trucker who finds himself mixed up in the crazy things happening in Chinatown. Kim Cattrall and Kate Burton are the beautiful leading ladies, and Victor Wong lends a hand, but the highlight perhaps is seeing veteran supporting player James Hong (who has appeared in everything from CHINATOWN to BLADE RUNNER to SEINFELD) get a chance to play a lead role, as the villainous David Lo Pan.
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