April 22, 2014 by Adverbia Big trouble in little china (1986) Share this:TwitterFacebookRedditTumblrPinterestLike this:Like Loading... Related
I would really love to hear what some Chinese people have to say about this movie. It seems to have been inspired by Cantonese fantasy movies like Zu: Warriors of the Magic Mountain, in a good way. The Asian characters include all the villains but also some very charming good guys. But as almost anything made by and starring my fellow white people, I’m certain there’s a lot to complain about. Nonetheless, I want the late great Victor Wong to be my grampa. So cute, argh!
Hello! I’ve had this page open in a Chrome tab since I saw @DrRubidium on a CONvergence panel this summer. I have a lot of open tabs. I finally got back to watching this one.
I really enjoyed listening in on your conversation. If I’ve understood you all correctly, I think I have a slightly but crucially different take on the role of Jack Burton in the story. He sure *thinks* he’s John Wayne, and I think when we’re introduced to him, we’re supposed to take that at face value. But he immediately stumbles into a story he doesn’t understand, and (as you pointed out) he kind of fumbles everything – he spends the whole movie posturing at heroism, while Wang does all the actually heroic stuff. Jack manages to knock himself out right at the beginning of the climactic fight scene! By firing a big dumb gun at the ceiling!
I take all that as deliberate and subversive: It’s not that Carpenter meant to make a movie about a tough white guy who saves everyone, and just didn’t notice that he wasn’t that effective. I think Carpenter meant to make a movie that mocks the whole idea of the tough white guy who saves everyone, and mostly succeeded. Everyone still likes Jack – he means well, at least – but he only thinks he’s the hero.
There are some holes in my thesis – like, okay, Jack does make the miraculous catch-and-throw that takes out Lo Pan – and yeah, there’s plenty else that’s problematic in the movie’s racial and sexual politics, especially viewed from 2014. But if nothing else, it’s really fun to watch the movie as a critique rather than an embrace of the white hero trope.