Remakes. Give us your best shot, pal. We can take it. Few films have developed as much of a cult reverence as Big Trouble in Little China. The 1986 comedy kung fu mashup from John Carpenter might have tanked at the box office, but since its release, the film has risen to the heights of intense adulation. Some might not see it as untouchable, but for the fan base, the news that The Rock was going to reinvent the character of Jack Burton for the modern era sent shivers of rage down our spine. How dare you?
Well, we might be able to relax a little. The wings of liberty will never lose a feather cuz Jack Burton, and the ol’ Porkchop Express are still out there on the highways and byways of America. And Dwayne Johnson will not inhabit his skin.
As reported by Collider, producer Hiram Garcia assures us that the new Big Trouble in Little China is not a remake, and it’s really not even a reboot. As they’ve been developing the film over the last two years, Garcia and Johnson have come to the realization that you can’t recapture what either Carpenter or Kurt Russell achieved in the original:
“You can’t remake a classic like that, so what we’re planning to do is we’re going to continue the story. We’re going to continue the universe of Big Trouble in Little China. Everything that happened in the original exists and is standalone and I think there’s only one person that could ever play Jack Burton, so Dwayne would never try and play that character.”
Ok. So if we’re going to be forced to return to the world of Big Trouble in Little China, this is probably the best case scenario. Jack Burton and Wang Chi’s victory over the tyranny of Lo Pan occurred. Jack left Gracie Law in the Dragon of the Black Pool restaurant and hit the road with a hairy beast stowaway on the Porkchop Express. Our precious film exists. No one erased it.
The question becomes, what is the universe of Big Trouble in Little China outside of the ’86 original? Despite a well-placed dagger to his skull, Lo Pan could be resurrected and if they’re smart they’d rehire James Hong in the role. Although, some kooky magic could explain a lame body transference. and give us a new actor. Without some connection to Lo Pan though, I can’t imagine a Big Trouble in Little China-like scenario for another character to experience.
In 2014, Boom Studios released a series of Big Trouble In Little China comic books co-written by John Carpenter and Eric Powell. Their story picked up almost immediately after the film concluded with Jack combatting the hairy beast in the back of his truck. The series was fairly whacky and kept mostly to the spirit of the film. As it progressed, the comic entered even stranger realms by eventually crashing into the universe of that other Carpenter/Russell classic, Escape From New York. Give me that movie, please.
A continuation of Big Trouble in Little China is curious, and certainly more appealing than a straight retread. While I find it difficult to drum up enthusiasm for the film without the participation of Carpenter, if The Rock were to partner with Kurt Russell against James Hong, I would probably descend into a giddy mess.
Big Trouble in Little China is a film of its time. I’ve shown it to friends who missed it back in the day, and most of them fail to engage in its entertainment. Maybe you just had to be there. Looking at The Rock’s recent output of Skyscraper, Rampage, and Jumanji, I’m not really sure his sensibilities align with those of 1986 John Carpenter and Kurt Russell. However, where I had no interest in a remake, a continuing ride down the road with the Porkchop Express is intriguing. I’m willing to hold out my condemnation until I see that movie trailer.