Big Trouble in Little China – Blu-ray Disc Review

August 11, 2009 – 1:37 AM - Posted by: Justin Sluss

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Blu-ray Disc Review

3.5 out of 5 starsThe Movie Itself has an average rating of 7.1 on IMDb
3.5 out of 5 starsVideo Quality 1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
4 out of 5 starsAudio Quality
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
2.5 out of 5 starsBonus Materials with DVD ports & 5.1 Isolated Score
Year: – 1986
Length: – 100 minutes
Region:Region Free (A/B/C)
This uses 28.6GB for the movie out of 34.1GB total.

Overall VerdictFans Will Be Somewhat Pleased

Buy it for $19.99 @
Buy it for $19.99 @

— Review written by: Justin Sluss


The Movie Itself is Directed and also musically scored by John Carpenter of “Halloween” (1978) fame. The film stars a familiar face to Carpenter‘s films, Kurt Russell who just years before starred in “Escape from New York” (1981) and “The Thing” (1982). Russell stars as a character who undoubtedly could be described as just an “All-American Trucker” by the name of “Jack Burton.” Let me tell ya, “Ole’ Jack Burton” finds himself some action in this flick and the weird Chinese magic type at that. The film starts out with an interview in what appears to be a police station or something of that nature. We see a Chinese gentleman by the name of “Egg Shen” (played by Victor Wong) with the unforgettable characteristic of one overly squinted eye being interviewed about Chinese magic and he not only says he can offer proof verbally but also physically.

Fast forward a bit further past the kick ass nineteen eighties credits and you have the pleasure of getting your first introduction to “Ole Jack Burton” as he’s driving his eighteen wheeler down the road, rambling on his CB radio and about to be approaching a little place called “Little China” where he finds big trouble — hence the film’s title. As you’ll notice early on listening to Jack babbling on his CB radio, he’s a dead knock-off for non-other than John Wayne with the way he talks you’d almost expect him to honestly end each sentence with the word pilgrim. The overly John Wayne sounding dialogue that Russell delivers here may irritate some but in fairness he doesn’t have a huge amount of speaking parts to do once the action starts, just surviving.

The whole vital plot point here was when Jack Burton agreed to help his friend named “Wang Chi” (played by Dennis Dun) go to the airport to pick up his girlfriend. Long story short there, no real spoilers included, Wang’s fiance, a girl by the name of “Miao Yin” (played by Suzee Pai) gets kidnapped by this Chinese gang because she has green eyes. They are taking Wang’s fiance back in a plan to revive a two thousand year-old Chinese sorcerer by the name of “Lo Pan (played by James Hong). This is where things really start to get freaky, once they head into San Francisco’s “Chinatown” where the gang took Wang’s fiance.

Overall, “Big Trouble in Little China” was a pretty cool film for 1986 and I think you really have to keep that date it was made in mind when watching it some 23 years later. The colors in this really seem crazy at times and the clothing as well, but anyone who lived through the eighties will not be the slightest bit shocked. The action here is pretty decent with some martial arts thrown in to fit the Asian stereotype, just kidding but yea, it really works well as an overall film. Not in my personal opinion one of John Carpenter‘s best films to-date but certainly one of his most cult-followed films, that much for sure. Also worth pointing out that it co-stars Kim Cattrall as “Gracie Law“, the love interest of our star Russell.

Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

DVD vs. Blu-ray Screenshot Comparisons

As you can tell from above, this comes as a pretty good improvement over the most recent DVD “Special Edition” release which I used for comparison. A decent amount of detail can now be found in the close-ups such as in the first screenshot comparison above. HERE in the new Hi-Def transfer you can see a decently good amount of detail, namely the tiny beard stubble on star Kurt Russell‘s face stands out here in this scene when it really didn’t before as you can tell (HERE) on DVD. The color palette is very vibrant as you’d expect for a mid-eighties film and there’s some screenshots here to back up that statement. Hell, looking back on it, the DVD even had a really good color palette so it’s no surprise this does. Fleshtones are accurate, even with make-up and the special effects don’t look too cheesy or show off too many flaws given the new amount of detail present.

The black level is very solid here and again, was already solid on the previous DVD release so they already had it in semi-decent condition already from the last digital transfer. There are some obvious tweaks on the color palette just a tad bit but those seem to be the only alterations made really. I’m happy to report this doesn’t seem to show any signs of compression or excessive (if any) use of digital filters such as DNR (digital noise reduction) or EE (edge enhancement). Film grain is visible and that is to be expected with 35mm films from the mid-eighties and it proves that DNR hasn’t been used, excessively anyway. If DNR would have been used in excess, things wouldn’t be as sharp as they are — they would have seemed plastic almost. All and all, “Big Trouble in Little China” makes an alright Hi-Def debut and earns itself a decent “3.5 Star Rating” for overall video quality.

Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. This comes as a nice improvement over the DTS 5.1 originally found on the “Special Edition” DVD 2-disc release previously available. The film’s original music done by Director John Carpenter with it’s synthesizers and electrics guitars sounds really cool and at times can fill the 5.1 soundscape somewhat nicely, also offering a decent bass presence as well. Sound effects during action sequences sound good and dialogue is never drowned out by the action. That being said, dialogue is mixed fine and should require no volume adjustments. This earns itself a solid “4 Star Rating” for overall audio quality. Those who owned the “Special Edition” DVD will not likely find it a huge improvement in terms of sound but it is an improvement none-the-less and justifies replacing the DVD.

Bonus Materials are presented in Standard Definition (SD) video quality using MPEG-2 and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound @192kbps.

  • Audio Commentary by Director John Carpenter and Actor Kurt Russell
  • ALL-NEW 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Isolated Score Track” just contains John Carpenter‘s original score to the film, nothing else exists in this audio track but his music. Pretty darn awesome to see this included.
  • Deleted Scenes” feature both workprint and betamax video versions in some instances if two runtimes are listed below. One exception here is the deleted scene “Lava Sequence” which features the original storyboard, the final scene and storyboard vs. final scene comparisons — hence it listing 3 identical runtimes. You can switch back and forth between the inputs on this using your “angle” button on your remote if you like as well which is always cool to see being used.
    1. Airport/Chinatown” (5:47 / 6:56)
      The Dragon of the Black Pool” (2:37 / 4:19)
      The White Tiger” (2:14 / 7:07)
      Gracie’s office” (3:31)
      Thunder’s Tour” (1:34)
      Beneath Chinatown” (2:16)
      Lava Sequence” (1:14 x3)
      Six Demon Bag” (11:48)

  • Extended Ending” (3:05) is pretty cool, obviously save it for AFTER the film.
  • Vintage Featurette” (7:28)
  • Music Video” (3:28) is actually a music video John Carpenter and friends did. It’s a title track for the film and is on the soundtrack but appears in the film only in instrumental form. I can’t say this song really works but it is great to see a Director of the film having this much fun working on his film.
  • Richard Edlund Interview” (13:25) has multiple angle options. Angle 1 is the interview footage with a montage of behind-the-scenes stills appearing in a small window. Angle 2 is comprised of just those stills in full frame. Toggle between the two using the “angle” button on your remote control.
  • Trailer A” (2:47)
  • Trailer B” (0:55)
  • Spanish Trailer” (2:42)
  • Behind-the-Scenes Gallery” (17:33) is a still photograph gallery feature.
  • TV Spots” (4:43) are hilarious, almost more-so than the film itself.

Overall, the bonus materials are pretty decent for those who never got to own the “Special Edition” DVD release and does contain a new 5.1 DTS-HD MA isolated score track. Fans will be somewhat pleased.

Blu-ray Disc packaging:


NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.

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  1. 2 Responses to “Big Trouble in Little China – Blu-ray Disc Review”

  2. One of the few Carpenter films I’ve never seen. I’m definitely going to give this one a rent soon. Kick ass review, man!

    By James Segars on Aug 11, 2009

  3. I just realized I put “Chinatown” up there in my synopsis at one point instead of “Little China”… Boy I feel like a horses’ ass. Oh well, shit happens.

    By Justin Sluss on Aug 13, 2009

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