Big Trouble in Little China: A Wild Ride through Chinese Folklore


When “Big Trouble in Little China” hit theaters in 1986, it was largely seen as a quirky comedic action movie starring Kurt Russell. However, the film has since gained a cult following due to its unique blend of Chinese folklore, action, and humor.

In this article, we’re going to explore the story, characters, and mythology behind “Big Trouble in Little China” and discuss why it has become a beloved classic.

The Story

The plot of “Big Trouble in Little China” follows Jack Burton (Kurt Russell), a truck driver who gets pulled into a world of Chinese mysticism and ancient sorcery when he helps his friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) rescue his fiancée from a powerful sorcerer named Lo Pan (James Hong).

Along the way, Jack and Wang team up with a colorful cast of characters, including the street-smart Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall), the wise and mystical Egg Shen (Victor Wong), and the bumbling duo of Thunder (Carter Wong) and Rain (Peter Kwong) who serve as henchmen for Lo Pan.

The story is a wild and often nonsensical ride, filled with fast-paced action scenes, over-the-top characters, and mystical creatures. At its core, though, it’s a classic hero’s journey as Jack Burton learns to believe in himself and the power of friendship, ultimately saving the day and winning the heart of Gracie Law.

The Characters

One of the things that makes “Big Trouble in Little China” so memorable is its cast of characters. Each one is unique and adds to the overall zaniness of the story.

Jack Burton is the perfect hero for this world – he’s tough, sarcastic, and always ready with a one-liner, but he also has a heart of gold. He’s a bit of a bumbling fool at times, but ultimately he’s a likable protagonist who the audience can root for.

Wang Chi is the classic sidekick, a loyal friend who will stop at nothing to save his fiancée. He’s also a skilled fighter and adds to the action scenes in the film.

Gracie Law is the tough-as-nails lawyer who gets caught up in the chaos. She’s savvy and resourceful, holding her own in a mostly male-dominated world.

Egg Shen is the mystical wise man who guides the group through their journey. He’s a key source of knowledge about Chinese folklore and myth, and often provides exposition about the supernatural elements of the story.

Finally, there’s Lo Pan, the villain of the story. He’s a powerful sorcerer who is seeking a flesh and blood body so that he can rule the world. He’s a classic megalomaniacal bad guy, complete with a team of henchmen and a lair filled with traps.

The Mythology

One of the most interesting aspects of “Big Trouble in Little China” is the way it incorporates Chinese mythology and folklore into the story. Throughout the film, we’re introduced to mystical creatures like the Three Storms, who have control over lightning, rain, and wind, and the Chinese Wild Man, a creature similar to Bigfoot.

Lo Pan himself is steeped in Chinese myth – his name means “old man” in Chinese, and he is modeled after the ancient sorcerer Fu Manchu. His backstory involves a curse that has been placed on him that prevents him from gaining a physical form, which aligns with the idea of karma in Chinese culture.

The film also features several nods to the Taoist concept of Yin and Yang. The idea that there are two opposing but complementary forces in the universe is represented by the characters of Jack and Wang – Jack is the boisterous, brash Yin to Wang’s quiet, reserved Yang.

Overall, the film manages to weave these elements of Chinese culture and mythology into the story without feeling forced or gimmicky. It feels like a genuine love letter to Chinese culture and folklore.

The Legacy

While “Big Trouble in Little China” was not a critical or commercial success upon its release, it has since gained a cult following and become a beloved classic. Its blend of action, humor, and Chinese mythology has inspired countless filmmakers and creators.

In fact, the film’s influence can be seen in everything from video games (like the “Double Dragon” and “Mortal Kombat” franchises) to TV shows (like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Avatar: The Last Airbender”).

There have even been talks of a sequel or remake in recent years, although nothing has come to fruition yet.

Regardless of whether we ever get to see Jack Burton and the gang back on the big screen, “Big Trouble in Little China” will remain a classic of pop culture, a wild and wacky ride through Chinese mythology and folklore.


“Big Trouble in Little China” is a unique and wonderful film that deserves its status as a cult classic. Its blend of action, humor, and Chinese mythology create a world that is both familiar and fantastical.

The characters, too, are memorable and entertaining, with Jack Burton standing out as one of the greatest action heroes of all time.

If you haven’t seen “Big Trouble in Little China” yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s a wild ride that you won’t soon forget.