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Big Trouble In Little China 2 - Will It Ever Happen?

"Big Trouble in Little China" has stood the test of time as a true cult classic. Directed by John Carpenter, it stars Kurt Russell as goofball trucker Jack Burton, who suddenly finds himself in a battle waged between an ancient mystic (James Hong) and a gang of Chinatown crime lords over the fate of an innocent young woman (Suzee Pai). Filled with outrageous action, supernatural adventure, and loads of tongue-in-cheek humor, "Big Trouble in Little China" blends the spirit of pulp comics and classic kung fu movies.

Legions of fans would love to see a sequel reunite Carpenter with Russell, Hong, and the rest of the cast. Though nothing has come of it, there has been some talk of a follow-up over the years. Many involved in the original film have weighed in on the idea of another movie, including John Carpenter. Plus, another superstar — one of the most bankable names in Hollywood, in fact — is ready to make it happen if the original crew doesn't sign on. Will a sequel to "Big Trouble in Little China" ever happen? We're here to answer that question.

Why a sequel to Big Trouble in Little China hasn't happened yet

With a budget of $25 million, "Big Trouble in Little China" was the biggest movie ever helmed by John Carpenter at that point in his career. It was also a story close to his heart. "I fell in love with kung fu films back in the '70s," he told Entertainment Weekly. "For as much fighting they had, they were also so fun and innocent. They had some outrageous stuff, and I thought what a great thing to be able to do in an American movie."

Alas, when the film debuted in theaters, it was also Carpenter's biggest bomb, grossing just $11 million. Reportedly, the director was frustrated and angered by its poor critical reception; according to Politico, he reacted to bad reviews by exclaiming, "I'm too old for this bull****." But box office failure and poor initial reviews aren't all that have kept a sequel from coming to life. 

While it was never a hit in its initial run, "Big Trouble in Little China" did manage to gain a devoted cult following over the years. The real trouble, then, has been Carpenter's lack of interest in a follow-up. As noted by Entertainment Weekly, the director never wanted to do a sequel, and that apparently hasn't changed. In fact, when a follow-up film was in the works from a different set of producers, he tore the idea apart as a Hollywood cash grab. 

What have the cast and crew said about a Big Trouble in Little China sequel?

Even though "Big Trouble in Little China" has become a cult hit, John Carpenter has stayed relatively mum on the idea of helming a sequel. But there are some in the cast who've shared their thoughts on a follow-up, including James Hong, who played Lo Pan. "Well, I think they should leave the classic alone," Hong told ComicBook.com, in relation to the idea of a remake, reboot, or even a sequel.

Still, the actor does think the story deserves a continuation, saying, "I'd like to reappear in the new one and do something spiritually, like 'Star Wars,' where the characters come back and do a reprieve of some kind." Suggesting the idea of a spin-off of his own centered around his character, Hong opined, "Let's admit it, Lo Pan is a huge part of that first one, so how can you forget him?"

As for star Kurt Russell, when talk of a new movie stirred in 2018 starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, he seemed indifferent to the idea. "[Johnson is] just a really good guy," he said in an interview with USA Today. "I like working with him and if he's going to do it, he and his crew will hopefully be able to come up with something that I guess makes the title work." However, he seemed more interested in reprising the role of Jack Burton in December 2023. Talking to ComicBook.com, Russell said, "Ya never say never. If somebody were to write a great script that was better than the first one, it had something new to say, I don't know."

What would be explored in a sequel to Big Trouble in Little China?

With the cast and crew mostly keeping tight-lipped on the idea of a direct sequel, it's left to fans of "Big Trouble in Little China" to come up with ideas regarding where a second film might go with the story. Produced today, it would need to account for the decades that have passed since the original film debuted, perhaps following an older, world-weary Jack Burton on a new quest that brings him into conflict with an emerging threat from the underworld. 

One idea floated by fans on Reddit is a continuation of the story that introduces Egg Shen's grandson as a new villain, looking to restore his people to their former glory. Others, however, don't feel that a follow-up needs to continue the same story at all, and could simply tell a new tale with the same set of characters, led by Kurt Russell as Jack Burton. "Overall I just really want to follow Jack Burton on a few more adventures," said one such fan in 2022.

If Carpenter and company want to look for a blueprint for how to do a legacy sequel, they need look no further than his '80s horror contemporary Sam Raimi, who resurrected Ash Williams in "Ash vs. the Evil Dead." A similar story that sees Jack Burton reluctantly brought out of retirement to deal with another supernatural adversary threatening his friends could be the perfect way to bring the series back to life.

Who would star in a sequel to Big Trouble in Little China?

Any sequel to "Big Trouble in Little China" would first need to deal with the challenge of convincing the cast to return. Would they be up to it? If John Carpenter were to get back behind the camera, we can't imagine that Kurt Russell would say no, as they've worked together many times before. Moreover, we know that some in the supporting cast would love to come back for a second adventure.

This begins, of course, with Lo Pan actor James Hong, who is still active and as big as ever, recently appearing in the Oscar-winning critical darling "Everything Everywhere All at Once." The list also includes actor Jeff Imada, who appears in the film as Needles. During a cast reunion for "Big Trouble in Little China," he talked about pushing for a sequel himself. "The most common question I get when people find out I work with John is, 'When is John going to do a sequel to 'Big Trouble in Little China?'" he told the audience. "So every six months or so, I bring it up to John, 'You know, people always comment about 'Big Trouble in Little China,' and talk about a sequel and stuff.'" 

But would Carpenter still be interested in returning to direct after so many years? That's probably the most important question that needs answering because no sequel would be accepted by fans without him. Well, Kurt Russell admits that getting him back would be tricky. When giving an interview to ComicBook.com in December 2023 — where the star explained that he'd consider doing a sequel if the script was good — Russell said, "We could slap John Carpenter around a bit and say, 'Come on, John, let's go do this.'"

Who would direct a sequel to Big Trouble in Little China?

From some accounts, it seems like original director John Carpenter is lukewarm at best on the notion of returning to the world of Jack Burton and Lo Pan. "[The studios] don't give a s*** about me and my movie. That movie wasn't a success," Carpenter told Cinema Blend in 2018 after hearing about a possible remake involving Dwayne Johnson.

While Carpenter's attitude suggests he wants nothing to do with the franchise, some get a different impression. At the aforementioned 2015 cast reunion, Jeff Imada said the director could be open to a sequel. "About a year ago, a year and a half ago, I brought [the idea of a sequel] up again. I said, 'Some other people are commenting about 'Big Trouble in Little China' again. They were wondering when you were going to do a sequel.'" According to Imada, Carpenter told him he'd do it, but needed to get the studio onboard. "He said, 'I'll do it. Fox owns the rights to it, so why don't you go to Fox and talk to them about it. If you can get them to do it, them I'll do the project.'"

Three years later, though, it was Dwayne Johnson campaigning to get Carpenter to direct his version of a sequel. "We want to bring on John Carpenter," Johnson told Entertainment Weekly. "If we did that, then we have a shot at hopefully making something good."

Dwayne Johnson's Big Trouble in Little China sequel

Initially thought to be a remake, a new "Big Trouble in Little China" movie got rolling in 2018, spearheaded by Dwayne Johnson. "There's a lot of things going on with [the 'Big Trouble in Little China' sequel]," said Hiram Garcia, President of Johnson's Seven Bucks Productions (via Movieweb). "We are in the process of developing that ... We're going to continue the universe of 'Big Trouble in Little China.' Everything that happened in the original exists and is standalone."

Still, the news of a sequel without Kurt Russell was met with bristling from fans, forcing Johnson to respond. "Know that I come to the project with nothing but love and respect for the original," the star remarked to Entertainment Weekly. But he also insisted that he wouldn't do it if they couldn't do it right, saying, "Let's see what feels good ... And as we write it, if the whole thing starts to stink up, then we thank everybody for their efforts and accept this just couldn't make it."

But it sounds like someone wasn't being entirely honest, as the film's co-writer Zack Stentz revealed on The Fanboy Podcast (per Superman on Film). "We turned in the script," the writer noted, "They said they were happy with it. ...[Ashley Stewart] and I wrote a straight up remake, where Dwayne Johnson is playing Jack Burton." In 2022, Garcia reiterated interest in the sequel — with caveats — telling Collider, "It's still an ambition of ours but unfortunately there are complications that come with a legacy property like that which has so much attached to it from over the years."

Could there be a remake of Big Trouble in Little China?

Fans weren't happy to hear of Dwayne Johnson's new version of "Big Trouble in Little China," and it didn't seem to matter that it was going to be a sequel. Without Kurt Russell or John Carpenter, it just wouldn't be the same, which is precisely why Johnson insisted he wanted to get Carpenter back to work on it. But how might a remake have fared? And is there still interest in making one? While the notion is rejected by many fans, it's exactly what one superstar director and a big name actor have in mind. 

Talking to Entertainment Weekly, horror director James Wan opened up about the love he and Patrick Wilson feel towards the Carpenter classic. "One of the big reasons I love working with Patrick on my films is, he's such a film buff," Wan said. "He's truly, truly a film geek ... A lot of times we're not focused on the film we're shooting — we're talking about other movies. We all love to geek out about John Carpenter, about 'Big Trouble in Little China.' You know, that's a big film for Patrick and myself, and we always fantasize about doing a remake of [it]."

But even Wan acknowledges it's an unlikely prospect. "That's never going to happen. I mean, it's a [sacred] movie!" Still, with the amount of clout Wan has in Hollywood, a studio may come calling when they hear his interest.

There's already been a sequel ... just not at the movies

If there ever is a "Big Trouble in Little China" sequel — from Carpenter or another director — it could very well take its cues from an existing follow-up. That's right — there's a sequel, and it's an ongoing comic book series. First published in 2014, the series was written by Eric Powell. But he wasn't alone in coming up with the story — he was given an assist from none other than John Carpenter himself. "The minute we sat down and started talking, what he thought we should do was exactly what I had in mind," Powell told Entertainment Weekly about his collaboration with Carpenter. "We were on the same page from the beginning."

The first issues of the comic pick up immediately after the movie, with Jack riding off into the sunset in his big rig. But he has a stowaway, as it turns out: Lo Pan's monster ape. Opting to be friends, Jack names the beast Pete and returns to Chinatown, where he discovers Quiang Wu — Lo Pan's servant — now in control of the underworld. 

That's not all, though. As the series found success, it spun out several additional standalone stories, one of which could serve as the basis for a sequel movie set in the present day. That story is titled "Old Man Jack" (an ode to Marvel Comics' "Old Man Logan"), and sees Burton in the year 2020, back for one last adventure. Like the earlier stories, this too was plotted out by Carpenter.

How a Big Trouble in Little China sequel could still work

Interest in a sequel to "Big Trouble in Little China" remains high, even decades after the original film. Kurt Russell is as big as ever and more than capable of returning as Jack Burton, and, while Carpenter hasn't directed a feature film in more than a decade, there's little doubt he could deliver what audiences are craving. 

But even if he doesn't, Dwayne Johnson is still keen to bring his own sequel to life. "We are still working on making that happen," said Hiram Garcia in 2021, "but as with any great project the road is not easy but we are sticking to it! We're going to figure out a way to continue the story of 'Big Trouble in Little China.'" Efforts to get Carpenter involved, either as a producer or director, may be falling on deaf ears, however. Speaking with The Wall Street Journal in response to Johnson's project, he made his disinterest clear: "I'm ambivalent about a remake." Still, he did admit there may be a way to get him to back the film, remarking, "On the other hand, it depends on how much they pay me."

But there's another route a sequel could take. In 2022, Oscar-nominated director Arthur Dong hosted a celebration of the film with an interview with actor James Hong. Looking for criticisms of the film, he concluded, "The only critique I could think of was there's not a miniseries based on 'Big Trouble in Little China' on Netflix.'"