The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #165: Reflections on Rewatching Big Trouble in Little China (1986) 

Episode #165: Reflections on Rewatching Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

Today, we’re talking about the 1986 film, Big Trouble in Little China. It’s really fun film that has a little bit of everything – martial arts, action, fantasy, comedy, satire, even a bit of horror and romance – with a great cast.  I’m not sure what I would think of the film had I not seen it years ago or been interested in martial arts, since it’s absolutely a product of its time and its lineage (paying homage to movie serials from the first part of the 20th century and 70s and early 80s kung fu films), but if you like any of those things, you’ll probably find something to like in the film.  I’m not sure a film like it would be made today, but for the time, it not only introduced the feel of those old Hong Kong produced kung fu films to a mainstream Western audience but gave work to a lot of Asian American actors – they outnumber the Caucasian actors in this film (unusual for Hollywood at the time).

If you were interested in martial arts during the 80s or 90s, you’ll recognize a bunch of familiar faces and names. A lot of these guys showed up in martial arts magazines at the time and worked in stunts for martial arts and action movies.  For example …

Jeff Imada, Kevin Endoso, Kurt Russell, and Al Leong:

The man holding up his fingers is Victor Wong, the grandfather in 3 Ninjas.

Jeff Imada in action (above) and Gerald Okamura (below; interview with movie trivia in the link)

James Lew often did fight choreography for films (like this one) and often had larger speaking roles in various action films as well.

Click on the poster below to find a copy of the film:

Enjoy a little collection of animated gifs from the film:

Below is a clip of Carter Wong in another film – he’s the one I keep calling “the Chinese Arnold” in the podcast:

One of my favorite lines from the movie:

And if you want your own Tec 9 like Jack Burton but don’t want to deal with the black market or figure out what’s legal in your area, you might try finding an airsoft version.  This Japanese gas powered version is actually now really rare and hard to find.  It’s probably about the same vintage as the film.  But there are some electric versions that are much easier and cheaper to find these days.

There is also a comic book that continues the adventures stated in the film.  Here’s a frame that makes good use of Wang’s name …


The podcast now has a page on Facebook, so head over there and to Instagram to check out some scenes from the film.


Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hourplaylist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!