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The Reason The Big Trouble In Little China 2 Writer Hated The Original

Big Trouble in Little China, the 1986 action-adventure comedy from legendary horror director John Carpenter is a staple of home movie watching. If you grew up in the '80s and '90s, Big Trouble in Little China was a regular Sunday matinee on basic cable channels, and as a result ol' Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) is likely burned into your brain.

So, is it any wonder that there was a desire to revisit the property recently? Back in 2015, The Wrap first reported that Big Trouble in Little China was set for a remake with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson taking over as Jack Burton. Johnson himself said he wanted Carpenter involved with the project, and Carpenter's response on the subject was that of ambivalence.

Over time, the story changed. We heard that the new movie would be more spiritual sequel than remake. The big wrench in the works wasn't the question of remake or sequel, though — it was Disney. After the Disney-Fox merger, many projects which had been loosely on the docket found themselves suddenly thrust into limbo — this included the new Big Trouble in Little China, which we've still heard nothing about.

Interestingly, this isn't the first time a sequel was attempted. Back in the '90s, TV producer and screenwriter for Innerspace, Chip Proser, put together a script for a sequel. Based on Proser's recent comments, fans may actually find themselves grateful we haven't gotten a sequel to Big Trouble in Little China just yet. 

Proser has some opinions about Big Trouble in Little China

Proser wrote two drafts for a sequel. The one which was submitted in January 1995 was based on an idea from beloved Incredible Hulk comic writer Peter David and would've featured Egg Sen (Victor Wong) who helped Jack Burton in the first movie with his magic and bus-driving abilities. The project was to be a TV movie and Proser wanted to create a story which was "not racist" compared with the original. In fairness, the idea of focusing on the non-white characters for a Big Trouble in Little China sequel sounds pretty good.

However, there is a pretty big catch here. As you might imagine from someone who saw the first movie as racist, it turns out that Proser was not really a fan of the original film. In an interview with Stephen Scarlata and Josh Miller of the Best Movies Ever Made podcast, Proser explained his criticisms of Big Trouble in Little China.

"I don't like the movie. I don't like the way it's shot," says Proser. "The scenes are shot in very tight close-up, one after another. And, you know, Kurt Russell in that kind of a close-up. Wow. I mean he's a good looking guy, but there's a reason why you do an establishing shot and they move in and then close-up over the shoulder. There's a reason for that technique. And then pulling out every once in a while — let the audience breathe a little bit. Don't add everything up right together. Put something boring in the middle so they can go to the bathroom. And then the special effects are from the planet of the cheesy special effects. And you realize they were trying to steal Hong Kong stuff with those trampoline jumping sword fights. And they didn't do it all that well."

Should a new Big Trouble in Little China be less weird?

How valid are Proser's criticisms of Big Trouble in Little China? Like with all opinions, they are subjective and cannot be seen as right or wrong. However, it's probably worth noting that Big Trouble in Little China might not be as successful of a cult hit if it weren't for the weird close-ups, the janky special effects, and the tightly packed action. All these things serve to separate Big Trouble in Little China from the pack.

In fact, if we were to make an argument that the packed-with-oddities aesthetic of Big Trouble in Little China is the very reason for its long-term popularity, we could probably talk about one of the film's original writers — W.D. Richter. Not only did Richter write the adaptation of Big Trouble in Little China, but he also served as director on another motion picture: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Just like Big Trouble in Little China, Buckaroo Banzai is absolutely packed with off-the-wall sci-fi and action adventure tropes. And while neither film is a massive box office smash, they both have a loyal group of fans.

If there does end up being a Dwayne Johnson sequel to Big Trouble in Little China, it certainly could be, as Proser suggests, filmed in a more traditional way. It would most certainly have more modern and realistic special effects. But without the wall-to-wall action and weirdness of the original, will it find the same long-time success of the original? Perhaps, in time, we'll find out the answer.