Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Big Return To Little China!


This is an oddball movie for sure. A tale of Chinese mysticism in the middle of an American city starring a rambunctious trucker is for sure a peculiar movie. But it works like gangbusters! I pulled it out and gave it another screening a few days ago and enjoyed it as completely as I ever have.

This first adventure of Jack Burton (in my mind I imagine there must be a series of these in another dimension somewhere) introduces us first to the inimitable Mr. Burton, a brash and brave footloose all-American type who is true-blue to his friends and not afraid of any fight. Sadly though he's more willing than he is able, and that's the fun.

The plot (for those who don't know) is an ancient Chinese mystic kidnaps the bride of a friend of Burton's, and the two of them alongside a cavalcade of memorable characters fight hither and yon across the expanse of a mythical Chinatown to rescue her and defeat the sorcerer. There are three fantastic super-powerful warriors known as the "The Storms" who help the sorcerer and these guys are utterly wonderful, full of high-energy excitement whenever they hit the screen. Kung-fu madness abounds.

This story apparently began its Hollywood life as a western and that shows in the basic construction. A stranger rides into town and helps the town folk overcome a deadly threat to the status quo. It's the basic story of hundreds of westerns and other movies to boot. If ever there was a silver bullet for American storytelling, this might just be it. But it was wisely decided to boost the story to the modern day and that saves the project, making it a hip and breezy fun ride.

John Carpenter directs Kurt Russell once again, and these old buddies transform this tale into a charming briskly paced romp. Don't stop to try and worry out the details, just enjoy this movie for what it is-- pure entertainment.

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