Big Trouble in Little China
Time Out says'Ready, Jack?' asks Kurt Russell's Chinese buddy before another fraught round of mayhem beneath the streets of San Francisco's Chinatown. 'I was born ready', comes back the growled response; and it is this level of conscious self-mockery which saves the John Wayne posturing and genre high kicks from being just another climber on the Raiders of the Lost Ark band wagon. Russell is the T-shirted bozo trucker, who only has to fire his gun into the ceiling for the plaster to fall on his head. Down the mean catacombs and underground streams of Chinatown he goes, in search of something or other and encountering every Chinese cliché known to man: devil women, 900-year-old sages, water tortures, black magic monsters. The icing on all this cake is a load of kung-fuey, which in spite of three nifty warlords who come equipped with their own static electricity and interesting hats, isn't really up to the mark established in the meanest of Hong Kong martial arts movies. Carpenter has always been a skilful genre mechanic, breathing life into old forms; if he stubs his toes up against the bamboo curtain this time, there is still more enjoyable sly humour than in most slug-fests. CPea.