Genre Movie #15: “Big Trouble in Little China” (1986)
“Saturday night’s alright for fighting” — Elton John
Making a movie really is alchemy. You mix all these elements in a crucible and hope you’ve created gold when you’re done. Most of the time all you get is lead. But when it works — especially when it shouldn’t work — it truly is magic. Such is the case with John Carpenter’s kung-fu homage, “Big Trouble in Little China.” It should have been a disaster but Carpenter pulls it off (in what is arguably his last good movie) by going over the top and having fun at the same time. There is a true impish joy to this genre mashup that relishes just how ridiculous the whole thing is, with a cast that goes all in. It doesn’t hurt Kim Cattrell is at the peak of her coquettishness, or Kurt Russell gets to chomp the scenery with wild abandon as an incompetent John Wayne-wannabe who still saves the day. Like I said, it shouldn’t work, but it does.