Saturday, February 18, 2012

Big Trouble In Little China Sunday

When I think of big pulpy D&D over the top entertainment this is the movie I loveBig Trouble in Little China (BTLC) is a action / adventure / fantasy / kung-fu motion picture, directed by John Carpenter and written by W.D. Richter, Gary Goldman, and David Z. Weinstein. It was produced by Taft Entertainment Pictures and released by 20th Century Fox in July of 1986.
Wait what does one of the most iconic movies of the 80s have to do with D&D?

Lets see old friends getting together to defeat the machinations of an immortal spirit from beyond space & time? One who wants to rule the universe from beyond the grave?
We've got beholder like guardian creatures 

Chinese Ogres creatures  aka The Wild Man 
Lo pan's coolest henchmen Rain, Thunder, & Lightning. Semi immortals in the service of David Lopan

Plot : Truck driver Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) and his friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) go to San Francisco International Airport to pick up Wang's fiancee Miao Yin (Suzee Pai). A Chinese street gang, the Lords of Death, kidnaps Miao Yin and takes her into Chinatown with the intention of selling her as a sex slave.
Jack and Wang track them to the back alleys of Chinatown and get caught in a battle between two feuding ancient societies known as the "Chang Sing" and the "Wing Kong." The latter interrupts a funeral procession the Chang Sing are having for their recently assassinated leader and, during the ensuing street battle, powerful magicians in league with the Wing Kong, called "The Three Storms" (Thunder, Rain, and Lightning), use their supernatural powers to slaughter the Chang Sing.
Trying to escape, Jack runs over the Wing Kong's leader, the sorcerer Lo Pan (James Hong). Lo Pan is unharmed. Wang has to help Jack after he is temporarily blinded by Lo Pan's glowing eyes. Jack's truck is then stolen by the Lords of Death, who are working for the Wing Kong.
Wang takes Jack to his restaurant, The Dragon of the Black Pool, where they meet up with lawyer Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall), along with Wang's friend Eddie Lee (Donald Li) and magician Egg Shen (Victor Wong), a local authority on Lo Pan who moonlights as a tour bus driver in Chinatown. They come up with a plan to infiltrate a brothel where they think Miao Yin is being held. Jack (in disguise) investigates, but the Storms make off with Miao Yin.
Miao Yin is taken to the Wing Kong Exchange, a front for Lo Pan's domain. Jack infiltrates the place, where he and Wang get caught in a elevator that fills with water. Wang claims they're in "the hell of the upside-down sinners." They escape the elevator but are taken to a cell by Rain, who grabs Wang by the neck, and sends rubber balls to Jack's stomach with force.
They are taken in wheelchairs to see Lo Pan (now in the form of a crippled old man), who claims Miao Yin is "safer with me than any creature on Earth." Lo Pan detects Eddie, Gracie, and her journalist friend Margo on a security monitor and sends Thunder to deal with them. Wang and Jack are taken back to their cell, still in wheelchairs, when Wang tells Jack about the 2,000-year-old legend of Lo Pan; that he was cursed to roam the Earth in a ghost-like form until he can marry a special kind of girl with emerald green eyes.
They break free from their constraints but, hearing Thunder returning, put their blindfolds back on. Thunder hangs up Eddie by the collar of his jacket. Jack jumps in, but Thunder sends him back down the ramp in a wheelchair and nearly into a deep well.
Wang and Eddie create a diversion so Jack can rescue the imprisoned girls. At the front entrance, Gracie is caught and taken to Lo Pan. But on seeing Gracie and Miao Yin tame "The Burning Blade," Lo Pan decides to marry both, sacrifice Gracie, then live out his "earthly pleasures" with Miao Yin.
Wang and Jack go to see Egg Shen. With the help of the Chang Sing, they go into an underground cavern and reach Lo Pan's headquarters. Egg gives the group a potion that Jack says makes him feel "kind of invincible." At the wedding ceremony, a huge fight ensues (which Jack misses due to being temporarily knocked out with rubble). Wang is able to kill Rain in an elegant sword fight.
Jack and Gracie try and catch Lo Pan, the spell having been broken. Wang joins them, and takes on Thunder, while Jack takes on Lo Pan, throwing a knife that embeds in his skull. Thunder, enraged and dishonored at his failure to protect his Master, starts to inflate to an enormous size without stopping, exploding and killing himself.
Jack, Wang, Gracie, and Miao Yin are cornered by Lightning in a corridor, which he makes collapse. Egg rescues them with a rope, which Lightning tries to climb in order to follow. Egg throws down a statue that crushes him.
They find Jack's truck and make their escape back to the Dragon of the Black Pool restaurant. Lo Pan having been defeated, Egg decides to go on vacation, saying China is in the heart. Jack hits the open road, with an unknown-to-him stowaway—one of the remaining monsters.
 The best source of information on the net? Right Here 

My love for this movie can't even begin to be written about but there is a part of a megadungeon that remains one of my favorite bits in the movie. The Wing Kong team up with Jack along with Egg Shen whom in my mind remains possibly one of the best portraits of a sorcerer in movies. Want to know what a slightly sane sorcerer  in Carcosa might be like take a look at Egg Shen. Anyway Egg & company descend into a Shaw Brothers style underworld for about 7 minutes or so. The place has the name of the Bog of Dead Trees. There is some insectoid   style earth demon that grabs one of the Wing Kong gang members. Then there's the whole 'black blood'  of the Earth stuff floating under a ruined bridge. The place remains wholely explored possibly to this day sitting under San Francisco's China Town. A whole campaign might be created with this one area. 
  What's the deal between Egg Shen & Lo Pan? Can you say lots of history between these two? I recently acquired this movie on the rare dvd collection with its killer soundtrack. Just wanted to share these thoughts with you folks 


  1. One of my favorites too. If you're making a weekly feature devoted to BTLC, I'll be reading them!

  2. I'll be doing that Lord Gwydion! Thanks for the comment & welcome aboard! There's lots more to come!

  3. Even though I love BTLC, for some reason I never noticed that W.D. Richter was one of its writers. He directed another movie I love -- Buckaroo Banzai.


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