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Big Trouble in Little China (also known as John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China) is a 1986 American martial arts film directed by John Carpenter. It stars Kurt Russell as truck driver Jack Burton, who helps his friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) rescue Wang's green-eyed girlfriend (Suzee Pai) from bandits in San Francisco's Chinatown. They go into the mysterious underworld beneath Chinatown, where they face an ancient sorcerer named Lo Pan (James Hong).
Although the film was originally envisioned as a Western set in the 1880s, screenwriter W. D. Richter was hired to rewrite the script extensively and modernize everything. The studio hired Carpenter to direct the film and rushed Big Trouble in Little China into production so that it would be released before a similarly themed Eddie Murphy film, The Golden Child, which was slated to come out around the same time. The project fulfilled Carpenter's long-standing desire to make a martial arts film. The film was a commercial failure, grossing $11.1 million in North America and well below its estimated $25 million budget. It received critically mixed reviews that left Carpenter disillusioned with Hollywood and influenced his decision to return to independent film-making. The film has since gone on to become a cult film due in large part to its success on home video.
When truck driver Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) and his friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) go to the airport to meet a girlfriend arriving on a flight from China, bandits (Wing Kong) from Chinatown kidnap Wang's green-eyed Chinese girlfriend (Suzee Pai). To rescue her, Burton and Wang go into the mysterious underworld beneath Chinatown, where they face a number of dangerous challenges and battle kung-fu masters and a 2,000-year-old man – an ancient sorcerer named Lo Pan (James Hong). Centuries ago, Lo Pan was put under a curse, and the only way that he can break it and become human again is to marry a woman with green eyes and then sacrifice her. Lo Pan is served by an ancient and evil secret society known as the "Wing Kong", as well as a trio of mystical beings known as the "Three Storms" – named Thunder, Lightning and Rain. Jack and Wang are aided in their quest by lawyer Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall), a tour bus-driving sorcerer named Egg Shen (Victor Wong), Wang's friend Eddie Lee (Donald Li), and the "Chang Sings", another secret society that oppose the Wing Kong. The group eventually succeed in liberating the women from the underground lair and escape in Jack's truck.
The first version of the screenplay was written by first-time screenwriters Gary Goldman and David Weinstein. Goldman had been inspired by a new wave of martial arts films that had "all sorts of weird actions and special effects, shot against this background of Oriental mysticism and modern sensibilities". They had written a Western originally set in the 1880s with Jack Burton as a cowboy who rides into town. Goldman and Weinstein envisioned combining Chinese fantasy elements with the western. They submitted the script to producers Paul Monash and Keith Barish during the summer of 1982. Monash bought their script and had them do at least one rewrite but still did not like the results. He remembers, “The problems came largely from the fact it was set in turn-of-the-century San Francisco, which affected everything – style, dialogue, action”.
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