Adventures of Jack Burton
Big Trouble in Little China
Written by Gary Goldman and David Z. Weinstein
Adaptation by W.D. Richter
Directed by John Carpenter
Released July 1986
Trucker Jack Burton bites off more than he
can chew in the mystic underworld of San Francisco's Chinatown.
summary of this movie at IMDB
Characters appearing or mentioned in this film
Jack's ex-wife (unnamed, mentioned only)
Lords of Death
Lem Lee (seen in photo only, deceased)
The Three Storms (Thunder, Rain, and Lightning)
The original script was set in the Chinatown of the old west.
When John Carpenter was brought aboard to direct the film, he
felt it would work better set in the modern day and the script
was re-adapted by W.D. Richter, best known as the director of
the 1984 film,
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.
The actor playing the unnamed lawyer interviewing Egg Shen at
the beginning of the film is Jerry Hardin, who went on to become
known for his portrayal of Deep Throat on The X-Files.
He is identified as Pinstripe Lawyer in the credits.
The film takes place in San Francisco's Chinatown. Chinatowns
exist in cities throughout the world and are sometimes referred
to as Little Chinas, inhabited by largely Chinese or Taiwanese
The character of Lightning here (one of the
Storms) seems to have been the inspiration for the hero
of the Mortal Kombat video game series called
Actresses Kim Cattrall and Suzee Pai (as Gracie Law and Miao
Yin) both have brown eyes. They wore green contact lenses in the
film. During close-up shots of their eyes, the brown of their
eyes can be seen along the edges of the green lenses.
At beginning of the movie, the lawyer is astounded when he asks
for proof of magic and Egg Shen makes small bolts of lightning
appear between his hands. But we don't see the reaction of the
stenographer sitting behind Egg in the office. Was she not just
If you listen to the way actor Kurt Russell speaks when
delivering much of Jack's dialog, notice that the seems to be
doing a bit of an homage to actor John Wayne (1907-1979)!
Jack's truck, the Pork-Chop Express, is a 1985
Freightliner FLC-120. It has the iconic trucker's "mudflap
girl" on the front grill, along with the words "Haulin' Ass"
(later we also see the truck has the actual mudflaps with the girl on
them as well).
The truck is named the Pork-Chop Express because Jack uses it to
haul pigs to the slaughterhouse.
The Chinese characters in the middle of the "Big Trouble in
Little China" title logo supposedly read "Evil Spirits Make a
Big Scene in Little Spiritual State".
Jack's baseball cap has a
Harley-Davidson logo on it.
Apparently Jack has been married at least a couple times. As
he's talking on his CB radio, he remarks, "As I told my last
wife..." (Later stories confirm that Jack has had at least four
wives thus far.)
At the beginning of the movie, Jack refers to the evening as "a
dark and stormy night". This line is often used to mock turgid
writing or storytelling (as much of Jack's boasting is), used as
the opening line of English novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 1830
novel Paul Clifford. The comic strip character Snoopy
from Charles Schulz's Peanuts, seemingly began all of
his alleged novels with the phrase. The full sentence from
Bulwer-Lytton's novel is "It was a dark and stormy night;
the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when
it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the
streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling
along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of
the lamps that struggled against the darkness."
Jack's opening monologue opens in a manner similar to his
closing one at the end of the film with "You just listen to the
ol' Pork-Chop Express and take his advice on a dark and stormy
night..." and then goes on with "When some wild-eyed,
grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against
a barroom wall, looks you crooked in the eye and asks you if
you’ve paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker back in
the eye and remember what Jack Burton always says at a time like
that." At the end of the film, Jack gives a brief description of
actual events that just happened to him, so it seems quite
likely that he is describing an actual recent altercation here
at the beginning as well.
At 3:50 on the DVD, Jack is crossing the
Golden Gate Bridge into
At 3:57 on the DVD, Jack is eating an apple fruit pie packaged
dessert/snack. The wrapper looks to be a generic version of a
Fruit Pie wrapper from that time (mid-1980s).
At 4:21 on the DVD,
packing boxes are seen at the wholesale market in San
At 4:28 on the DVD, a sign for Curtin Produce is seen. As far as
I can tell, this is a fictitious company.
At 5:30 on the DVD, a man at the gambling table is wearing a
t-shirt with what may be a logo for
Beer. The men at the table are actually drinking Peking Beer
though, also an actual beer brand in China.
The game being played at the gambling table is the ancient
Chinese game of fan-tan (see
Wing Kong Exchange website).
Packing boxes for Butterfly Apples are seen at 6:24 on the DVD.
This was a real brand at the time.
At 6:35 on the DVD, we see the gambling table Jack and Wang are
playing at is apparently at Lee's Citrus Exchange. This appears
to be a fictitious business.
At 7:58 on the DVD, a
Coca-Cola refrigerator unit is seen at
Lee's Citrus Exchange. Coke must have been a sponsor for the
movie because its logo is seen all over the film.
Packing boxes for Cal-Oro fruit are seen at 8:32 on the DVD.
Cal-Oro is a brand of Villa Park Orchards, an agricultural
cooperative association in California. Seconds later, packing
boxes for Tres Amigos produce are seen; I've been unable to
confirm if this is or was a real company.
Wang's pick-up truck seen at 8:51 on the DVD is a 1960
At 8:55 on the DVD, we can see that the doors of Jack's semi
read, "Jack Burton Trucking, Visalia, Calif."
is a city about 230 miles southeast of San Francisco.
Wang tells Jack that his fiancé, Miao Yin, is from Peking.
Peking is the city of
Jack and Wang go to the airport to pick up
Miao Yin. This would be
At the airport,
Miao Yin carries her stuff in a packing box for Peony Mark
baking powder. Peony Mark is an actual Chinese marketer of food
Gracie is not too impressed with Jack when he first approaches,
saying, "You should try standing downwind where I am. It's
Miller time." The phrase "It's Miller
time" was an advertising slogan for
Miller High Life Beer in the
1970s and 80s.
One of the Lords of Death street gang members has the Chinese
yin-yang symbol on his headband, a Chinese symbol
of the interconnectedness of opposites.
At 12:53 on the DVD, a 1978
Corvette C3 is seen in the parking garage at the airport.
At 13:04 on the DVD, we can see that Wang wears a jacket that
advertises his restaurant, Dragon of the Black Pool.
Gracie drives a 1971 Chevrolet van.
At 13:11 on the DVD, the car driven by the
Lords of Death members is a 1986
Firebird Trans Am, with license plate IE49942.
The Mariposa Street off-ramp is seen on the freeway at 13:32 on
Mariposa Street is a an actual road in San Francisco. The scene
in the film seems to be on the I-280.
When Jack asks Wang why anyone would kidnap his fiancé, part of
Wang's response is, "How come it's not safe to walk in Central
Central Park is a public park in the center of Manhattan and
one of the largest urban parks in the world.
At 13:49 on the DVD, a
cuts in front Jack's cab. At this same moment, a freeway sign
Bay Bridge is seen.
The gateway seen at 14:04 on the DVD is the
(Dragon Gate) on Grant Avenue at Bush Street in San Francisco's
Egg Shen's bus for his Egg Foo Yong Tours is a 1936 White Model
706, CA license plate A31864.
At 14:43 on the DVD, Egg's tour bus drives past the Far East
Flea Market and Four Seas Restaurant. Both businesses are real,
though the Four Seas apparently closed just recently, in 2016.
When Jack turns the Pork-Chop Express into a Chinatown alley at
15:20 on the DVD, a business called New Hoa Thai Trading Company
is seen. I've been unable to confirm if the was a real business
at the time. Seconds later, Ng Hing Kee is seen; this is a real
world bookstore in Chinatown.
At 15:33 on the DVD, Su Ling Imports is seen. This appears to be
a fictitious company.
Notice that the man who watches Jack and Wang drive by at 16:04
on the DVD is Lo Pan.
In the alley, Jack and Wang are caught in the middle of a Tong war
between the Chang Sing and the Wing Kong. Tong are Chinese
secret societies, sometimes benevolent, sometimes questionable,
with connections to crime. The
Chang Sing and Wing Kong tongs are entirely fictitious, as far as I
At 17:09 on the DVD, a Wing Kong member pulls out a
"WG" Army Model revolver.
At 17:24 on the DVD, another Wing Kong member wields a Thompson
submachine gun, known as a Tommy gun during the gangster era of
The twin gold-plated pistols wielded by another Wing Kong are
Wesson Model 19s.
Some of the Wing Kong use
Norinco Type 56 assault rifles.
One of the Chang Sings uses a MAC-10 during the shootout at
17:42 on the DVD.
A couple of the Chang Sing members wield
At 17:46 on the DVD, a Chang Sing uses a
Heckler & Koch
HK94A3 submachine gun.
A sign advertising "Ice cold Nehi" is seen at 18:36 on the DVD.
Nehi was a U.S. soft drink company known for its fruit-flavored
sodas from 1924-1955. In 1955, the company changed its name to
Royal Crown Company. Nehi is now a brand of the Dr Pepper
At 19:24 on the DVD, an advertising sign for Camel cigarettes is
seen. The slogan used here, "Have a real cigarette" is one that
the Camel brand used in the 1950s and '60s.
At 20:28 on the DVD, the China Palace Art Company is seen. This
appears to be a fictitious business.
Notice that both the Chang Sing and Wing Kong tongs appear to be
afraid of the Three Storms.
At 21:25 on the DVD, one of the Chang Sing fires a Micro Uzi
against the Three Storms. The general Uzi
line of weapons was designed by Israeli Captain Uziel Gal in the
late 1940s and named after him.
At 24:13 on the DVD, as Jack scuttles through the crawlspace, he
kicks up a piece of trash in the form of a
Hot Spiced Cider box. Notice that Jack ditches his pullover
sweater for some reason in this shot.
After losing his truck, Jack calls his insurance company, Mutual
Fidelity Insurers of Sacramento. This appears to be a fictitious
Sacramento is the capital city of California, in central
At 24:48 on the DVD, a sack of Iris Salt is seen sitting on top
of a Chinese Coca-Cola box in the kitchen of
Dragon of the Black Pool. Iris is a private label food brand of
the Smart & Final food and supply store chain in the western
At 25:36 on the DVD, a can of
is seen on a shelf in the background of the kitchen.
At 25:50 on the DVD, notice that Jack's clothes (tank top and
jeans) are drying on a line in the middle of the kitchen! He is
walking around in a blue Chinese robe.
At 26:05 on the DVD, a bag of
Swanson canned broth are seen on a shelf in the background.
At 27:17 on the on the DVD, two cans of Crisco are seen on the
Crisco is a brand of vegetable oil shortening.
Eddie's pink car is a 1959
Series 62 Flat Top.
Margo's car is a 1972 AMC Gremlin.
At 32:00 on the DVD, notice that Lightning is lowered into the
brothel through the hole in the roof by a writhing electrical
bolt from the sky he clutches in his fist, then he leaves in the
Margo says that David Lo Pan is the chairman of the National
Orient Bank and owns the Wing Kong Import-Export Trading
Company. These are both fictitious institutions.
Margo tells Jack that she's with the Berkeley People's
Herald. This is a fictitious newspaper.
The Wing Kong delivery truck seen at 34:54 on the DVD is a Ford
Econoline E-350. The larger delivery truck that drives past
seconds later is an
International Harvester S-Series.
At 35:28 on the DVD, notice that the wall mount that Wang walks
past is the same one that the monster looks through the eye
sockets of at 59:00.
At 35:29 on the DVD, Wang walks past a small statue of
Buddha holding a lotus blossom. The lotus flower is one of the
prime symbols of the Buddhist religion, signifying good fortune
and the progress of the human soul.
At 36:18 on the DVD, Egg Shen and Uncle Chu are drinking
Lik beer. This is a Chinese beer brewed in the UK under
license from Hong Kong Brewery Ltd.
When Jack and Wang are captured inside the Wing Kong warehouse,
they are secured to a couple of old wheelchairs. Presumably,
these are wheelchairs once used by Lo Pan in his frail, old man
body, who is seen currently using a motorized wheelchair.
Lo Pan asks Wang which province Miao Yin is from, suggesting
Hunan is a province in south-central China.
Lo Pan needs a girl with green eyes to appease the demonic god
he worships, Ching Dai. As far as I can tell,
Ching Dai is a piece of mythology made up for this film.
Wang tells Jack that the first sovereign emperor of China
defeated Lo Pan and imposed upon him the horrible curse
of no flesh in 272 BC. The first sovereign emperor of China was
Qin Shi Huang, but he did not become emperor until 220 BC and
was not born until 260, well after the 272 BC date of Lo Pan's
defeat. Wang says the emperor federated the Seven Warring
Seven Warring States were Qin, Qi, Chu, Yan, Han, Zhao, and Wei.
Qin, ruled by Qin Shi Huang, finally conquered the six other
states from 230-221 BC, "federating" them. Qin Shi Huang is the
same emperor who is resurrected as the villain of the 2008 film
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
At 43:45 on the DVD, four security monitors are seen outside of
Lo Pan's office. But just minutes earlier, there were only two
After an exchange of weapons at 49:36 on the DVD, Eddie has a
Smith & Wesson Model 36 pistol, Jack an Intratec TEC-9
submachine gun, and Wang a 12 Gauge Double Barreled Shotgun.
Despite the driver's side of Egg's tour bus having just been
shot up by the Wing Kong security guards, no damage is seen as
it races away at 59:55 on the DVD.
Margo describes the events she and her cohorts have been caught
up in as "some radical Alice in Wonderland."
Alice in Wonderland is an 1865
novel by Lewis Carroll about a girl transported to Wonderland, a
hidden, surreal, and semi-mystical world that does not run by
the same rules the normal world does.
The pistol Egg shows to Jack at 1:02:31 on the DVD, saying it
will make him feel like Dirty Harry, is a Smith & Wesson Model
29. In the Dirty Harry series of films of the 1970s and
'80s, the police detective character of "Dirty" Harry Callahan
(portrayed by Clint Eastwood) carried a Smith & Wesson Model 29.
Big Trouble in Little China, the
Dirty Harry films take place in San Francisco.
At 1:07:59 on the DVD, Thunder sets his blades down in front of
Miao Yin and Gracie. But, seconds later at 1:08:04, the blades
Egg shows the group a gourd container holding a potion that he
says "will be our only hope against the Bodhisattva of the
underworld, the ultimate evil spirit." In Mahayana Buddhism,
bodhisattva is an old Sanskrit term for someone who has
attained Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings; the
term is never used to describe an evil spirit as it is here.
Egg also has what he calls the Six Demon Bag, filled with magical
tools, powders, and potions with which to fight Lo Pan. The
Six Demon Bag appears to be a fictitious element of Chinese
mysticism made up for the movie.
Notice that, after Egg explains loosely what the magic potion
and bag will do for the upcoming confrontation with Lo Pan, Wang
raises a toast to the U.S. military and "the colors that never
run". I think he did this in order to inspire Jack, who was not
particularly responding to all the talk of magic and spells;
Jack is inspired by simpler things like patriotism, even though
the Lo Pan battle does not really have a patriotic element in
Lo Pan's hidden elevator to the underground temple opens from a
large Buddha statue at the destination.
Is it just me, or is it bit odd that an underground Chinese
mystic temple for an evil spirit would have neon lights
accenting its sculptures?
At 1:21:27 on the DVD,
Thunder shatters Jack's
TEC-9 submachine gun with a single blow of his fist.
As Lightning is destroyed, the last glimpse of
electricity from his body at 1:31:19 on the DVD form the
Chinese characters for "carpenter", a nod by the special
effects team to the film's director, John Carpenter.
|"Carpenter" in electricity
||Chinese symbols for "carpenter"
At the end of the movie, Jack has his pullover sweater back,
even though he ditched it earlier in the crawlspace under an old
tenement. I guess he went back for it after the escape from the
Wing Kong Exchange!
At 1:34:05 on the DVD, the gang appears to be drinking Miller
High Life beer during their celebration.
Jack's monologue at the end of the film includes oblique
references to the Three Storms (Lightning, Thunder, and Rain) he
faced earlier: "You just listen to the old Pork-Chop Express
here now and take his advice on a dark and stormy night when the
lightning's crashing and the thunder's rollin' and the rain's
The song heard during the closing credits of the film is "Big
Trouble in Little China" by the Coupe de Villes, a band made up
of John Carpenter himself with his frequent film collaborators,
Nick Castle and Tommy Lee Wallace. Carpenter sings the lyrics
heard here, in a deeper voice than his usual.
Notes from the Audio Commentary by John Carpenter
(Director/Co-writer) and Kurt Russell
John Carpenter is one of the men walking across the scene at the
wholesale market at about 6:07 on the DVD.
Notes from the Cinefex article included on the
DVD Special Edition release
The writhing electrical bolts produced by Lightning have Chinese
characters subtly formed within them (including the "carpenter"
mentioned earlier in the study).
Why is Gracie less under the spell of Lo Pan than Miao Yin (she
is seen to awaken briefly at 1:10:33 on the DVD)? Is it because
she is Caucasian? What brings her back under the spell as seen
leave Jack Burton alone.mp3
do you really believe in magic?.mp3
this is Jack Burton in the Pork-Chop Express.mp3
I never drive faster than I can see.mp3
and stormy night.mp3
check is in the mail.mp3
some kind of fool to think we're all alone in this universe.mp3
I picked up girls from everywhere else.mp3
a bitch must pay.mp3
China is here.mp3
with light coming out of his mouth.mp3
just happened to be in the neighborhood.mp3
the Hell of Being Cut to Pieces.mp3
can't get enough of me.mp3
I'm feeling a little like an outsider here.mp3
there's a problem with your face.mp3
we're not back by dawn.mp3
I was born
like your salad bar.mp3
a ghost who plays at being a man.mp3
in deep shit.mp3
out like the wind.mp3
Hell of the Upside Down Sinners.mp3
you are not brought upon this world to "get it".mp3
a life as short as yours.mp3
the Hell Where People are Skinned Alive.mp3
with green eyes.mp3
into a psycho ward.mp3
really pisses me off.mp3
I have no
will you stop rubbing your body up against mine?.mp3
everybody relax, I'm here.mp3
we may be
some radical Alice in Wonderland.mp3
not even your type.mp3
the six demon
colors that never run.mp3
feel kind of invincible.mp3
getting hot in here?.mp3
is it too
much to ask?.mp3
couldn't have that on my conscience.mp3
everybody the wrong way.mp3
we really shook the pillars of Heaven.mp3
I can take it.mp3
Adventures of Jack Burton Episode Studies