Big Trouble in Little China [Blu-ray]
(John Carpenter, 1986)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Video: 20th Century Fox
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 36,687,269,933 bytes
Feature Size: 30,816,215,040 bytes
Video Bitrate: 27.81 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: August 4th, 2009
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3848 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3848 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3699 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3699 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio Russian 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio Thai 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
English (SDH), Chinese (traditional and simplified), French, Korean, Portuguese, Russian (commentary and text), Spanish, Thai, none
• Commentary by director John Carpenter and actor Kurt Russell
• Vintage Featurette
• Music Video
• Richard Edlund Interview
• 3 Trailers and TV Spots
• Behind the Scenes Gallery
Description: A cult favorite (and one of director John Carpenter's personal favorites), 'Big Trouble in Little China' is a fantasy-action film that is brilliantly imaginative, funny, and absorbing. Kurt Russell plays hard-boiled truck driver Jack Burton, who gets caught in a bizarre conflict within, and underneath, San Francisco's Chinatown. An ancient Chinese prince and Chinatown crimelord has kidnapped a beautiful green-eyed woman, who is the fiancee to Jack's best friend. Jack must help his friend rescue the girl before the evil Lo Pan uses her to break the ancient curse that keeps him a fleshless and immortal spirit. Carpenter uses all the best elements of martial arts films, 1940s old action serials, Chinese mythology and straight- forward American adventure to make up a tale wild with imagination. Kurt Russell is wonderful as the brash, brave, and reluctant hero Jack Burton, who is hysterically out of place in this world of magic potions, goblins and curses. A visually stunning work that ranks as one of Carpenter's best films.
John Carpenter’s genre-bending (and genre-blending) action/adventure/fantasy/martial arts/comedy, "Big Trouble in Little China," was released in 1986 to mixed, if overall positive, reviews, but failed to bring in audiences in sufficient numbers to cover the mid-range budget (Carpenter's largest at that point in his career), despite a wry, ironic, subversive lead performance by Kurt Russell as an ineffectual action hero who’s (mostly) all talk and no action. The passage of time, however, has been more than kind to "Big Trouble in Little China." Like 1982's "The Thing," a box-office disappointment turned cult classic, "Big Trouble in Little China" has developed a small, devoted fan base. "Big Trouble in Little China" may just be John Carpenter’s most entertaining film, repaying multiple viewings with an over-abundance of narrative and visual pleasures.
As Big Trouble in Little China opens, Jack Burton (Kurt Russell), an everyman truck-driver (and the ostensible hero/protagonist) arrives in San Francisco to drop off cargo in Chinatown. At the conclusion of a celebratory evening (and morning) of drinking and gambling where Jack wins big, the other men leave, broke and none too happy with their losses, Jack’s stays behind with his longtime friend, Wang Chi (Dennis Dun), a local restaurant owner (as we soon learn, Wang Chi’s a man of many talents). Wang Chi makes Jack an odd wager, a double or nothing bet Wang loses. Jack, eager to collect his winnings and uncomfortable with letting Wang out of his sight, is convinced to accompany Wang to the airport, where Wang's fiancée, Miao Yin (Suzee Pai), is about to arrive from China. Miao Yin is the rarest of Chinese women. She has emerald green eyes.Excerpt from Mel Valentin at eFilmCritic located HERE
Big Trouble in Little China is approaching its 25th birthday. That mid-eighties stock rarely produced a pristine image but this Blu-ray looks pretty solid. The image quality shows some grit and minor grain, but has clarity and smoothes over the the rougher dark patches where noise occasionally surfaces. It's never dynamically sharp but does show some depth at times even around the, sometimes, cheesy visual effects. Colors are bright and consistent and the transfer doesn't appears to have untoward DNR or contrast manipulations. This is dual-layered with the feature over 30 Gig and a strong video bitrate and it avoids the blockiness of DVD incarnations. This Blu-ray has a nice consistent feel producing the best digital representation of the film presently available. It's not up to the caliber of modern films but I really don't have any valid complaints.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a healthy 3848 kbps reported some decent depth with heavy bass but not an extravagant amount of separation. The audio keeps the film lively with the many action and fight sequences bouncing effects around but I suspect the mix could have brought more to the presentation. The track does suit the film very well with Carpenter and Alan Howarth's original music fitting like boisterously whenever needed although not exhibiting demo depth. There is also an English language 2,0 channel and a number of foreign language DUBs (as well as the advertised 'new 5.1 DTS isolated score' which is surprisingly brisk although I don't know too many who'd bother indulging. There are many optional subtitle choices supporting my Momitsu's findings that this Blu-ray is indeed region FREE capable of being played on new format machines worldwide.
The supplements appear to duplicate the last DVD edition with the fine Carpenter/Russell commentary. The two get a long so well the discussion is lively and fun with no unnecessary gaps. Carpenter admits the film found it's broadest audience via home video. Now, of course, it has quite a devoted following. After the aforementioned isolated score (this is new) we get the usual deleted scenes, extended ending, vintage featurette - all in very crude SD video quality. There is an interview with the visual effects producer Richard Edlund with a picture-in-picture screen highlighting the effects he describes. We also get 3 trailers and TV Spots and a behind the scenes gallery.
July 23rd, 2009
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Gary W. Tooze
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