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Only Kurt Russell could go to Chinatown this First Friday

Learn why it's all in the reflexes when the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences shows “Big Trouble in Little China” on First Friday, February 3 at 7pm. Free.

"Big Trouble in Little China" stars Kurt Russell as truck driver Jack Burton, a macho truck driver with mad knife skills and an ego the size of Nebraska. Burton drives his buddy Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) to the airport to pick up Wang's fiancee Miao Yin. A Chinese street gang kidnaps Miao from baggage claim and takes her to Chinatown. Burton and Wang follow, only to get caught up in a street fight where they first encounter the supernatural Three Storms and their master, the invulnerable sorcerer Lo pan (James Hong).

Burton and Wang — along with lawyer Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall), Wang’s friend Eddie and magician-cum-tour guide Egg Shen (Victor Wong) — infiltrate a brothel where Wang fears his sweetheart is being held, but the Storms arrive just in time to spirit Miao away to the Wing Kong Exchange, a front for Lo Pan’s nefarious activities. The group follows, but their efforts to infiltrate the Exchange are quickly detected, and Burton and Wang are taken to see Lo Pan, now a wizened old man with a dastardly plan.

Director John Carpenter was attracted to the film because of the way it turned the tables on traditional action film roles, i.e. the Caucasian hero assisted by a minority sidekick. In “Big Trouble,” according to Carpenter, Jack Burton is portrayed as a sidekick who thinks he is a leading man. It’s hard to imagine anyone but Russell in the role, but it was originally offered to Clint Eastwood and Jack Nicholson. Russell was initially reluctant to accept the part, but was eventually persuaded because he liked the idea of playing such a flawed hero.

The studio wanted a rock star to play the part of Gracie Law, but Carpenter insisted on Kim Cattrall, despite her less than squeaky clean reputation for roles in “Porky’s” and “Police Academy.” Cattrall embraced the role because the brainy heroine wasn’t “screaming for help the whole time.” The movie, which barely hit the theaters in advance of mega-hit “Aliens,” was a commercial failure, earning only $11.1 million in North America, but has become a cult hit on home video.

The Museum stays open from 5 to 9 pm on the First Friday of every month, inviting visitors to witness a (classic) sci-fi or horror movie, wander through eye-catching exhibits, and shop at the Museum Store. You can also attend an opening reception for Beverly Dickson, whose show “Narrative Landscapes” runs February 3-26 in the Nature Art Gallery.

 

Publish Date: 
Tuesday, January 31, 2012