Blu-ray review: BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA.

Fox Home Entertainment
Release date: Aug 4th, 2009
MSRP: $29.99

Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Kurt Russell, Kim Catrell, Dennis Dunn, James Hong
Writer: Gary Goldman, David Z. Weinstein
Theatrical release date: July 2nd, 1986

At his best, John Carpenter tells fun storys with style and energy. Fortunately for us, BIG Trouble in Little China is Carpenter firing on all cylinders. It was not a hit in theaters, but quickly became a cult classic. Over the years, more and more fans have discovered this fun, fast-paced action film. Chocked full of kung-fu, mysticism and fun, Big Trouble is about truck driver Jack Burton (Kurt Russell). Jack goes with his pal Wang Chi (Dennis Dunn) to pick up Chi’s gal at the airport. Things don’t go quite as planned and they stumble into a sinister plot to TAKE OVER THE WORLD! It seems David Lo Pan (James Hong) wants to leave his ghostly existence and return to human form. This is to be done using not just black magic, but three elementals as well.

Having gotten stuck in the middle of it all, Jack and co do their best to keep Chinatown (and the rest of the world) safe from Pan and co. Aiding them are lawyer Grace Law(???) (Kim Cattrall), reporter Margo (Kate Burton), a pal named Eddie (Donald Li) and a good wizard named Egg Shen (Victor Wong). The crew head into underground tunnels to to lair of Lo Pan. Butt-kicking and spell-casting ensues.

BtiLC does an excellent job of mixing action and humor. At times, it reminds me of the video games of my youth, bright colors with monsters and villians popping up at all turns.

Part of what makes BTiLC so good is that while it is a fun B film, the cast and crew work very hard to make a great film. Too often, the cast seems to know how cheesy the film is and not put much effort into their work. This is the same reason I enjoy Clive Owen’s Shoot Em Up so much. Everyone busts their ass for our viewing pleasure.

One issue I have had with more than one Carpenter film is that they sometimes seem to lose their way latter in the film, some getting completely lost. Big Trouble does lose some steam towards the end, but not enough to derail the film. It remains an entertaining popcorn flick.

Video:
This is one cult film that really benefits from the HD transfer. Visually, Big Trouble was always an attractive film. The sets and costumes look fantastic and just pop in HD. At some points, I found myself not following the action because I was too busy checking out the details and color. The picture is presented in a ratio of 2.35:1.

Audio:
The sound is presented with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless track. Music and mayhem run all through the various speakers. This film makes excellent use of all channels, considering the age of it. There are also Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks for French, Spanish and Portuguese, with a Russian: DTS 5.1 track and Thai Stereo.

Subtitles are offered for
English SDH, Portuguese, Portuguese Text, Cantonese, Korean, French Text, Russian, Russian Text, Russian Commentary, Spanish, Spanish Text, Mandarin and Thai.

Extras:
Nothing new here, but the stuff is carried over is good. We have a commentary track featuring Russell and Carpenter. Both seem to have a great time and are quite frank about many things. Listening to this makes me want to see them work together again.

Also included are deleted scenes (nothing special), ,trailers, a music video, some television bits and a featurette that talks about the effects.

This is certainly worth picking up. While there is nothing new in the extras, the picture makes it worth the price. The film was always damn fun, but now it is a visual feast for the eyes as well.

Order the High Def goodness of BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA.

Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.