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To sequel or not to sequel, that is the question: Big Trouble In Little China

Nov. 15, 2012by: Alejandro Stepenberg

Big Trouble In Little China 3

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.

Big Trouble In Little China 2

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.

Big Trouble In Little China 1

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?

Kim Cattrall sultry

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.
Source: JoBlo.com

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9:19AM on 11/15/2012
I say make a big trouble in little china game with a GTA style engine. You can explore any number of different locations across San Francisco in your efforts to find the missing girls and the secrets of david lou pan. That would probably make up for another big trouble in little china movie. Now who doesn't want to play as jack burton eh?
I say make a big trouble in little china game with a GTA style engine. You can explore any number of different locations across San Francisco in your efforts to find the missing girls and the secrets of david lou pan. That would probably make up for another big trouble in little china movie. Now who doesn't want to play as jack burton eh?
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4:46PM on 11/15/2012

Ummm YEAH!!

One of my faves of all time!! Definitely needs to be researched carefully and done right though.
One of my faves of all time!! Definitely needs to be researched carefully and done right though.
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8:05AM on 11/15/2012

Big Trouble in Little China is my favorite movie of all time but I don't know

seriously, I would've loved a sequel back in the late 80's/early 90's, if they made one nowadays i don't Carpenter could cut it anymore (although Russell would still be awesome), just look at "The Ward" for further proof of the mans decline. With that said i would still go gaga if they made it.
seriously, I would've loved a sequel back in the late 80's/early 90's, if they made one nowadays i don't Carpenter could cut it anymore (although Russell would still be awesome), just look at "The Ward" for further proof of the mans decline. With that said i would still go gaga if they made it.
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7:41AM on 11/15/2012
If only Kurt Russell returns as the lead role, no more "son of the beloved hero" bull crap.
If only Kurt Russell returns as the lead role, no more "son of the beloved hero" bull crap.
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8:59PM on 11/15/2012

No

This movie is classic. I would have loved a sequel back in the day , but now everyone would be too old and it would just be a bad remake.
This movie is classic. I would have loved a sequel back in the day , but now everyone would be too old and it would just be a bad remake.
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8:57AM on 11/15/2012
Love this film, comes a close third after Carpenter's Thing and In the Mouth of Madness for me.

There is definitely scope for more adventures of Jack Burton, but leave it be I say as I just cant imagine any studios would want to do it justice and would probably make a CGI ridden turd of a film.

And release a damn bluray in the UK please. And In the Mouth of Madness doesn't even have a DVD release over here! C'mon!
Love this film, comes a close third after Carpenter's Thing and In the Mouth of Madness for me.

There is definitely scope for more adventures of Jack Burton, but leave it be I say as I just cant imagine any studios would want to do it justice and would probably make a CGI ridden turd of a film.

And release a damn bluray in the UK please. And In the Mouth of Madness doesn't even have a DVD release over here! C'mon!
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8:47AM on 11/15/2012

YES!!

Kurt Russell must be the main star. He could do with a new sidekick (another martial artist), maybe Jet Li.
Kurt Russell must be the main star. He could do with a new sidekick (another martial artist), maybe Jet Li.
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7:55AM on 11/15/2012
Not before one more Snake Plisken sequel.
Not before one more Snake Plisken sequel.
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5:51AM on 11/15/2012
I would LOVE a sequel, but only if Kurt returns! It's not a movie without him! I seem to remember him voicing his opinion that he has no desire to do another one though. Of course if the right amount of money and talent was waved in front of him, and if the script was up to par maybe he would return.
I would LOVE a sequel, but only if Kurt returns! It's not a movie without him! I seem to remember him voicing his opinion that he has no desire to do another one though. Of course if the right amount of money and talent was waved in front of him, and if the script was up to par maybe he would return.
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11:28AM on 04/18/2013

HELLL YEAH!!!

As long as they keep kung fu and bring the original cast (the female lead could be replaced). Maybe an action female lead, someone like Li Gong or Ziyi Zhang.
I love this movie, I've probably seen it more than 10 times when I was a kid. The only issue I have is the way they killed two of the three storms.
As long as they keep kung fu and bring the original cast (the female lead could be replaced). Maybe an action female lead, someone like Li Gong or Ziyi Zhang.
I love this movie, I've probably seen it more than 10 times when I was a kid. The only issue I have is the way they killed two of the three storms.
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8:17AM on 11/16/2012
Hey as long as its not a remake i'm in.
Hey as long as its not a remake i'm in.
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12:43PM on 11/15/2012

Hell Yes!!!

If done right it could be awesome!
If done right it could be awesome!
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2:01AM on 11/15/2012
IMO they could go all over the world with this... Eg. Big Trouble in Little India! ;)
IMO they could go all over the world with this... Eg. Big Trouble in Little India! ;)
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2:34AM on 11/15/2012

I'd be down for more but....

There is no plans for more Big Trouble in Little China movies, there never has been... also look at the disaster that was Escape from LA.... how could JC screw up Snake Plissken so badly? how could he call that movie a "sequel" when in fact it was more of a rehash? would Carpenter rehash Big Trouble in Little China too??
I would also love to see a sequel to Prince of Darkness and while we're fantasy dreaming, the reuniting of james woods and Daniel Baldwin in a REAL sequel to Vampire$ (c'mon
There is no plans for more Big Trouble in Little China movies, there never has been... also look at the disaster that was Escape from LA.... how could JC screw up Snake Plissken so badly? how could he call that movie a "sequel" when in fact it was more of a rehash? would Carpenter rehash Big Trouble in Little China too??
I would also love to see a sequel to Prince of Darkness and while we're fantasy dreaming, the reuniting of james woods and Daniel Baldwin in a REAL sequel to Vampire$ (c'mon because John Bon Jovi cant act for shit)
i would also love to finally see Buckaroo Banzai II finally made....
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3:06AM on 11/15/2012
There's actually a "movie of the week" screenplay of Big Trouble In Little China 2 from back in '95, written by Charles Proser. Haven't read more than a couple of pages yet but so far the only returning character is Egg Shen - neither Jack or Wang are mentioned as of yet. If interested, give it a quick google - I'm sure it isn't very hard to find.
There's actually a "movie of the week" screenplay of Big Trouble In Little China 2 from back in '95, written by Charles Proser. Haven't read more than a couple of pages yet but so far the only returning character is Egg Shen - neither Jack or Wang are mentioned as of yet. If interested, give it a quick google - I'm sure it isn't very hard to find.
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3:06AM on 11/15/2012
Big Trouble in Little China has been one of my favorite movies since I was a kid and I've always wished there were more adventures from Jack Burton. I honestly not only wouldn't be opposed to a sequel, but also a full reboot where the new Jack Burton is a trucker that just travels across the country and winds up accidentally dealing with random mythological bad guys in whichever city he's in.
Big Trouble in Little China has been one of my favorite movies since I was a kid and I've always wished there were more adventures from Jack Burton. I honestly not only wouldn't be opposed to a sequel, but also a full reboot where the new Jack Burton is a trucker that just travels across the country and winds up accidentally dealing with random mythological bad guys in whichever city he's in.
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