Big Trouble in Little China: The Franchise

Having just watched Big Trouble in Little China for what felt like the first time, it struck me that Jack Burton was, in a sense, John Carpenter's Indiana Jones. We have a hero who's a hard man with comical foibles. We have the supernatural intruding on the real world. And we have a breakneck pace that makes it feel like you're always in the middle of the climax. Where George Lucas took his inspiration from old matinee serials, Carpenter went in for Shaw Brothers' weirdest kung fu films. The effect is no doubt stranger, and more sweary, but largely the same. While it remains a cult favorite, it never got the wide recognition Raiders of the Lost Ark did 4 years earlier, and it didn't become a money-making franchise like Indy's first fil did. But I'd like to imagine a Big Trouble series in which Jack Burton drives across North America in his rig, and becomes the inadvertent sidekick to people actually driving supernatural adventure plots wherever he goes. Here are some ideas...
Big Trouble in Tijuana. Jack drives across the border on the Day of the Dead and discovers Chinese mythology isn't the only one that's "real". The dead will rise, some will be friends and some will be foes, and by the end, some of film's cast might even join their ranks. But not Jack. He has to keep driving.
Big Trouble in Real America. When his rig breaks down in the middle of the desert, Jack hoofs it to an Indian reservation terrorized by an ancient tribe that's come out of nearby caves after a long hibernation. Basically, it's Bone Tomahawk re-imagined as a Jack Burton vehicle.
Big Trouble in Little Italy. The mafia uses black Sicilian magic in their gang war against the Haitians trying to move in on their turf in Jack Burton's New York adventure. Can he escape (nudge nudge, wink wink) before he gets in too deep?!

I know the recent comic book essentially kept all the Chinatown characters and kept the adventure going with Lo-Pan, etc., but I wanted to give Big Trouble a larger canvas than that. Where else would you have liked to see Jack raise some hell? (Possibly literally.)

As your submissions come in, they might find themselves here, time allowing!
From Marty: Big Trouble in Canada. Jack delivers lumber to Canada only to meet a Wendigo.
From James Swallow: Big Trouble in the 8th Dimension. A Jack Burton/Buckaroo Banzai team-up.
From Aaron Bias: Big Trouble in German Village. It involves Nazi scientists, Hitler's brain and an alliance with Little Italy.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I've always liked this one (though I do notice flaws in it that I didn't 30 years ago, especially with pacing). As for variations on a theme, what about Big Trouble in Haiti (loa and other voodoo spirits, zombies, and Baron Samedi as the bad guy)? Or Big Trouble Down Under (a mash-up with Crocodile Dundee with the added twist of the Aborigines' Dreamtime as a destination)? Big Trouble in Little Moscow? (loads of Slavic imps like dubrovnoi and a big fight against Baba Yaga)?

Okay, I'll stop now.

Mike W.


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