Exalted Movie Mondays – Big Trouble in Little China

November 1, 2010

So, this is a movie my roommate has been suggesting for quite some time, probably because it’s one of his favorite movies of all time. I can’t really blame him. John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China is an excellent movie, and while it doesn’t automatically fit into the Exalted mindset, it can be made to fit with very little effort.

Kurt Russell plays Jack Burton, a truck driver (with some of the best lines in cinema history) who gets pulled into a supernatural slug-fest in San Francisco. His friend, Eddie Lee, is meeting his new girlfriend/fiancee straight off the plane from China, but when she gets kidnapped by Chinese gangsters, the pair get pulled first into the seedy underworld. Little do they know that the evil David Lo Pan is behind the entire thing, and this supernatural monster is out to make Eddie’s girl his own!

Most of the characters in Big Trouble are not Exalted. Egg Shen is probably a Sidereal of some sort, and the Three Storms are probably outcaste Dragon-Blooded. Eddie Lee works entirely too well as an enlightened mortal (with a little Terrestrial Martial Arts) to be anything else, and Jack Burton himself is probably the best example of a heroic mortal ever. Even Lo Pan, the villain of the entire debacle, is some manner of ghost, trying to restore himself to life.

And yet, the film shows the struggle of mortals when they get pulled into the struggles of supernatural beings. Lee and Burton have to make a lot of difficult choices, putting themselves at great risk, just to recover Lee’s girl. Nevertheless, they both choose to risk life, limb, and sanity to recover her (oh, and Jack’s eighteen wheeler, too), which is the kind of self-sacrificing high adventure emblematic of heroic mortals.

Big Trouble manages to draw from the same source material as Exalted, especially the kind of hokey, Hong Kong action movies of the Shaw Brothers, but instead of making it more serious, it makes it less serious. Including Kurt Russell as an out-of-his-element Western action hero in an Eastern action movie makes it all so much easier to draw those kinds of comparisons. It’s worth watching, if only for the 1980s feel of the whole thing. I recommend it to anyone who is willing to laugh, both at the movie and at themselves.

Also, there’s totally an erymanthus in it!



  1. My opinion is that this movie is underappreciated, so I’m glad he finally convinced you to watch it. I think I bought that copy for him after he had a bad day at work. I also think the Three Storms inspired characters in the Mortal Kombat series about 5 years later.

    • This was hardly the first time I’d seen the movie, and if I gave that impression, I screwed up and I apologize. It had, however, been a while since I’d seen it, and so revisiting it was a pleasant and surprising experience.

  2. “We may be trapped.”

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