To sequel or not to sequel, that is the question: Big Trouble In Little China
Most anyone who has seen BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA knows it to be far better than it has any right to be. Those same people are also aware that it veritably rewrote the entry on "fun" in the Annals of Cinema History, a precedent that has rarely been matched and even more rarely exceeded. I'm sure there are some of you out there who aren't fans - I myself have met one such person in my life - but for the rest of us? BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA is a genre mashup that establishes a unique and decisive identity all its own, something that so believes in itself that it is nigh-on impossible to disagree.
From the set design to the creature design, from the special effects to the special effect of Kurt Russell's line delivery, and from the script's straight-faced absurdity to the story's wild ode to the adventure tales of old, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA stands out in just about every way possible. Which is why I can't help but wish for a sequel - I love the characters and the tone and the action and the dialogue so much that I want more! It's the same reason my heart breaks a little every time I remember that "Firefly" was cancelled over ten years ago after a run that lasted less than a season. It's the same reason I forgive certain movies their flaws over repeated viewings, and then enthusiastically recommend them to my friends besides. Sometimes a team of artists craft something so special that their love and enthusiasm infects the work they create, a love and enthusiasm which in turn infects me as the viewer. Simply put, I want to be as much a part of the world John Carpenter created with BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA as possible.
It is of course very true that not all sequels are made equal, and there are certain criteria that make some more successful than others insofar as "good filmmaking" goes.
1) Is there an organic place for a sequel to go? Yes. The possibilities of a world where Lo Pan and his powers exist are huge, with a sequel having wide license to take Kurt Russell's Jack Burton through many other sorts of strange and fantastical adventures. Part of BIG TROUBLE's cult success is surely its explosive sense of adventurous exploration and hilariously self-aware humor, elements that could easily translate to anywhere Carpenter might take Jack.
2) Is there somewhere for the characters to go? The first movie ends with Jack having a new awareness of both what he and the world he lives in are capable of - I'm sure there are more deities and creatures and spells to encounter out there in his world, perhaps ones that address a different section of greater Chinese mythology (or another mythology altogether), and Jack has now had the experience of encountering them once. Which means he believes and he's prepared, to aspects of his journey from the first time round that could therefore be skipped for a sequel. As for Kim Cattrall's character of Gracie Law, she and Jack have established a sufficiently engaging relationship that permeates through multiple levels. There's a great deal of room for them to have further conflict as they attempt to work together (a la what the Indy and Marion reunion in CRYSTAL SKULL could have been), especially as Jack potentially engages with a new and younger female costar (see below).
3) Is there somewhere for the story to go that isn't just a rehash? Yes. See above.
4) Would it make the original movie better? Look, the first movie stands up just fine on its own. But I want to spend more time in Carpenter's world, and a sequel would allow me to do that much more so than my current practice of periodically rewatching the BIG TROUBLE. So based on the criteria that it would further flesh out the world and Russell's character? Then yes, it damn well would.
5) Is it possible to guarantee more of Kim Cattrall being subtly sultry in her special way? It's possible but not probable, as Cattrall is hardly the box office draw she once was (at least for the new viewers a sequel would want to bring in). She is also closing in on 60, and while she certainly is still plenty easy on the eyes I can't imagine it would be too difficult to bring in another actress to support Cattrall. I think it's safe to say we're all in agreement that two sexy focal points in a movie are better than one, and with Cattrall still treading water in "hotter side of middle age" territory a second actress capable of handling action would only be a plus.
So that's what I think, though those thoughts of course only raise more questions. Am I just being selfish in my dreams of a sequel, or is there really room for the characters to grow and adventure more? Should Carpenter still direct or just produce? And how could a sequel's plot embrace the respective ages of Russell and Cattrall?
For now though, leave your responses below and we'll tally the results for the next column! And speaking of which, the general consensus seemed to be that THE BOURNE LEGACY was both unnecessary and uninspiring, with a sequel more or less worth checking out if it was made (though it was far from actively desired).
SO DO YOU THINK THEY SHOULD MAKE A SEQUEL OR NOT?
|Extra Tidbit:||The studio wanted Clint Eastwood or Jack Nicholson to star as Jack Burton. Once they turned out to be unavailable, Carpenter was allowed to go with his first choice of Kurt Russell.|