top of page


For all of its many flaws Big Trouble in Little China is one of the most giddily fun films John Carpenter has directed: a camp classic in the best possible way.

For all his talents John Carpenter has never truly felt at ease directing movies that try to reach broader audiences than the niche genre fan. The best example is probably Big Trouble in Little China, which was clearly an attempt to cash in on that particular eighties style of action-adventure with a dash of fantasy thrown in.

In Carpenter's hands the movie always feels like a camp classic to begin with instead of the blockbuster the studio behind it had probably hoped for. Despite excellent production design, the dialogue is clunky, the fights hardly draw you towards the edge of your seat and the narrative is all over the place, never finding a coherent style or tone.

And yet for all its flaws Big Trouble in Little China is a lot of fun. The enthusiasm of the actors overcomes the forced humour and the lack of real suspense, while Carpenter himself is also clearly having a blast playing with bigger toys in his cinematic sandbox.

So while I wouldn't put the film anywhere near the top of any list, as a piece of comforting, enjoyable entertainment Big Trouble in Little China is more giddy fun than it has any right to be.

release: 1986

director: John Carpenter

starring: Kurt Russell, Kim Catrall, Dennis Dun, James Hong


bottom of page