13 Things You Didn’t Know About John Carpenter’s “Big Trouble in Little China”

E.E.W. Christman
4 min readApr 4, 2020

The last studio film Carpenter worked on in the 80’s, Big Trouble in Little China, was a commercial failure. Disillusioned with Hollywood and the constant interference of studio executives, Carpenter’s next two films (Prince of Darkness and They Live) were both independently produced.

The film follows Jack Burton, a loud mouth truck driver whose truck is stolen by a San Francisco Chinese street gang called the Lords of Death. They’ve also kidnapped Burton’s friend’s fiance. Together, Burton and Wang Chi must fight gangsters, sorcery, and monsters to save the girl (and the truck).

Carpenter’s foray into the world of martial arts films differs dramatically from other American movies. Even though Kurt Russel is technically the star, his character Jack Burton is portrayed as a bumbling oaf failing upwards, while his friend Wang Chi is the actual hero. Dennis Dun, who played Wang Chi, said of the film: “I’m seeing Chinese actors getting to do stuff that American movies usually don’t let them do. I’ve never seen this type of role for an Asian in an American film.”

James Hong as the evil sorcerer Lo Pan.

In recent years, BTILC has achieved cult classic status. With an amazing cast, a funny and quotable script, and classic John Carpenter special effects, this fantasy martial arts comedy stands alone. Whether you’re a die hard Carpenter fanatic or just curious, these weird facts are sure to electrify you.

Sorry not sorry.
  1. John Carpenter originally intended the film to be a western. Instead of having his truck stolen, Jack Burton would have lost his horse. In the end, Carpenter decided he wanted it to take place in modern times.
  2. During shooting, Kurt Russell had a bad case of the flu, which explains the exorbitant amount of sweat on his body in so many…
E.E.W. Christman

Writer. Fantasy, Horror, & Nonfiction. Queerdo. Nonbinary. HWA Member. They/Them. https://linktr.ee/eewchristman