Big Trouble in Little China (1986) - Rotten Tomatoes

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)




Critic Consensus: Brimming with energy and packed with humor, Big Trouble in Little China distills kung fu B-movies as affectionately as it subverts them.

Big Trouble in Little China Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Playing in a manner that can be conservatively described as larger than life, Kurt Russell plays a macho truck driver who agrees to go to the San Francisco airport and pick up his friend's (Dennis Dun) fiancee (Suzee Pai, freshly arrived from China. Suddenly, a gang of Chinatown toughs kidnap the girl right before Russell's eyes. After a wild chase sequence, Russell discovers that the girl has been abducted by a genuine, bonafide sorceror (James Hong), the ghost of a 3000 year old warlord. And that's just for starters. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovimore
Rating: PG-13 (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: Gary Goldman, W.D. Richter, David Z. Weinstein, W.D. Richter, John Carpenter
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 22, 2001
Twentieth Century Fox


Kurt Russell
as Jack Burton
Kim Cattrall
as Gracie Law
Dennis Dun
as Wang Chi
James Hong
as Lo Pan
Victor Wong
as Egg Shen
Donald Li
as Eddie
Carter Wong
as Thunder
James Pax
as Lightning
Suzee Pai
as Miao Yin
Jeff Imada
as Needles
Rummel Mor
as Joe Lucky
Craig Ng
as One Ear
June Kim
as White Tiger
Noel Toy
as Mrs. O'Toole
Jade Go
as Chinese Girl in Whit...
Jerry Hardin
as Pinstripe Lawyer
James Lew
as Chang Sing
Jim Lau
as Chang Sing
Kenny Endoso
as Chang Sing
Stuart Quan
as Chang Sing
Gary Toy
as Chang Sing
Jimmy Jue
as Wounded Chang Sing
Craig Noble
as Sewer Monster
Danny Kwan
as Chinese Guard
Paul L.Q. Lee
as Chinese Gambler
Al Leong
as Wing Kong Hatchet Ma...
Gerald Okamura
as Wing Kong Hatchet Ma...
Willie Wong
as Wing Kong Hatchet Ma...
Eric Lee
as Wing Kong Hatchet Ma...
Yukio G. Collins
as Wing Kong Hatchet Ma...
Bill M. Ryusaki
as Wing Kong Hatchet Ma...
Brian Imada
as Wing Kong Hatchet Ma...
Nathan Jung
as Wing Kong Hatchet Ma...
Daniel May Wong
as Wing Kong Security G...
Dan Inosanto
as Wing Kong Hatchet Ma...
Vernon Rieta
as Wing Kong Hatchet Ma...
Danny Wong
as Wing Kong Security G...
Daniel Eric Lee
as Wing Kong Security G...
Lia Chang
as Female Wing Kong Gua...
Chao Li Chi
as Uncle Chu
Dian Tanaka
as Female Wing Kong Gua...
Donna L. Noguschi
as Female Wing Kong Gua...
Shinko isobe
as Female Wing Kong Gua...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Big Trouble in Little China

Critic Reviews for Big Trouble in Little China

All Critics (40) | Top Critics (4)

An upscale send-up.

Full Review… | May 21, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Contains the single drop-dead funniest moment in all of Carpenter's filmography.

Full Review… | May 2, 2016

Works as a stand alone classic that features John Carpenter at his best.

Full Review… | June 13, 2013
Cinema Crazed

This is a bizarre, fun, action packed film, filled with wild characters and an adventurous, imaginative and campy spirit.

Full Review… | July 6, 2010
Matt's Movie Reviews

Benefits from a rollicking wise-ass performance from Kurt Russell but otherwise falls limp courtesy of too many corny gags.

Full Review… | April 6, 2010
Lessons of Darkness

A film to embody the Eighties, and justify them

Full Review… | November 15, 2009

Audience Reviews for Big Trouble in Little China

Big Trouble In Little China is a film where our perceived hero Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) isn't really heroic at all. He's actually a buffoon that's pulled into an extraordinary situation with Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) being the true hero of the film. Jack acts like he knows what he's doing, but he's as clueless as anyone thrown into this situation, making a refreshing look from this fantasy/karate hybrid.

The film opens with Jack accompanying his friend Wang to the airport to pick up Wang's love of his life. In the hectic arrival of a loaded airplane, she is kidnapped and after running into Gracie (Kim Catrall), who has some kind of involvement in the situation, Jack and Wang travel to Chinatown in an attempt to save his love, but stumble onto an otherworldly fight by Lao Pan (James Hong) to use the green eyed girl to restore his flesh. A mishmash of kung fu and fantasy follows as they attempt to stop Lao Pan's misuse of Wang's lady.

Big Trouble is a fun movie to watch. The film has a great flow to it, even though when examining just the plot itself leaves a kind of clunky feel as you run it through your head. John Carpenter smooths over the rough edges by giving us great visuals (even by today's standards) and very nice acting work, particularly from Russell. As I said before, Jack Burton is not the hero of this film. He's more of a loud mouth that is lost in this underworld of Chinatown and it's a wonderful look at how the presumed hero may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer. It really is a great performance from Russell, cementing his trilogy of John Carpenter films.

After revisiting this film a thought occurred to me. With all of the movies that are making a return after being defunct for 30+ years Big Trouble in Little China is a film that I see that could succeed by doing something like this. After 30 years I was still left wanting more from this story and these characters. This is one of these films that makes its own kind of definition and really makes a good impression on a viewer. A fine '80's ditty.

Chris Garman

Super Reviewer

Tonally different from anything John Carpenter has ever done, "Big Trouble in Little China" follows Dennis (Kurt Russell) on a wild goose chase to find a friends fiancee after she's been kidnapped. Once realizing that the kidnapper's have more to them than meets the eye, this picture becomes bizarrely original. The main plot may have been a little tired to begin with, but once everything kicks into high gear, it is a genuine blast. Kurt Russell and Kim Cattrall are the two standouts here as they drive this film into another level of fun. With a sweet undertone and some downright creepy and awesome sequences, this is not a film to miss. In the end, there are some slow moments that I felt could have been trimmed down, but aside from that, it is a great film. "Big Trouble in Little China" is a rare treat.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer


John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China is a top notch action comedy with some intense action, great performances, a fun and entertaining story and effective direction. Kurt Russell delivers yet another great performance here. The film has a highly entertaining premise, one that delivers for midnight movie fans. If you enjoy Carpenter's work, Big Trouble in Little China is a no brainer. The mix of action and comedy is well done, and John Carpenter manages to make yet another strong picture. This is a well made film, one that is sure to delight action fans looking for that pure 1980's flavor that period films had. In terms of story, the film has a well thought out script, and this is among one of Carpenter's finer films outside the horror genre. Upon its initial release, the film had a hard time finding an audience, and I think that's a great shame because, for me, John Carpenter is among my favorite directors, and with Big Trouble in Little China, he made an ambitious picture, on e that definitely captured key genre elements into one film to create an engrossing film, one that deserves much more praise. Than what it first garnered. Big Trouble in Little China may not be Carpenter's strongest directorial effort, but it's far from the worst. I really loved the film, and if you enjoy a fun, thrilling action packed film that is cheesy as much as it is eccentric, then this film is a must watch. Big Trouble in Little China is a film that is ambitious in scope, and it's one of Carpenter's most exhilarating works in the action genre. However, I still believe that Assault on Precinct 13 and Escape from New York are his finest action films. Still, for an effective popcorn thrill ride, Big Trouble in Little China delivers.

Alex roy

Super Reviewer

Big Trouble in Little China Quotes

Jack Burton: You people sit tight, hold the fort and keep the home fires burning. And if we're not back by dawn... call the president.
– Submitted by Grant P (10 months ago)
Jack Burton: When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, looks you crooked in the eye, and asks you if you paid your dues; you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like that: 'Have you paid your dues, Jack? Yes sir, the check is in the mail.'
– Submitted by Alex W (3 years ago)
Jack Burton: You just listen to the old Pork Chop Express here now and take his advice on a dark and stormy night when the lightning's crashin' and the thunder's rollin' and the rain's coming down in sheets thick as lead. Just remember what old Jack Burton does when the earth quakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah, Jack Burton just looks that big old storm right square in the eye and he says, 'Give me your best shot, pal. I can take it.'
– Submitted by Dann M (3 years ago)
Egg Shen: Only a dream can kill a dream.
– Submitted by Dann M (3 years ago)

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