Some movies seem destined for cult classic status: Rocky Horror Picture Show, Hudson Hawk. Sometimes it is not instantaneous. When Raiders of the Lost Ark hit the screens in 81 and followed it up with the Temple of Doom, every studio wanted to launch their own version of that type of movie. John Carpenter had some success with Escape From New York and Starman. Kurt Russell was a known quantity and had broken free of the Disney-squeaky-clean image with his star role in Escape From New York.
In 1986, the two teamed up again to do an action/adventure movie set in Chinatown. The movie was done on a budget of $25 million dollars, but only ended up making $11 million at the box office. However, cable and video helped many turn it into a cult classic. I was part of the $11 million taken in, and I remember enjoying it a lot. Of course it didn’t hurt that Kim Catrall was in it, after her popular roles in Police Academy and Mannequin. My fondest memory of the movie stems from an all-nighter I pulled prepping for a final in college. I was studying Statistics, when it came on at 2 AM on TBS. That helped keep me awake for those extra few hours before the final, that I did pass.
The story is simple: Russell plays a truck driver caught in the middle of ancient Chinese battles by his best friend. Throw in a little kidnapping and sorcery and we have a poor man’s Indiana Jones, except the lead is dumber. The story is straight-forward and predictable, but is a fun roller-coaster ride. One of my biggest beefs is the location of the final battle: it looks like a converted part of a mall resembling a bad Jaycee’s Haunted House; that and the poor job done by the makeup artist that made it obvious that Kurt Russell had eye makeup on the whole time.
The DVD had the following extras:
- 5.1 DTS and Dolby sound
- Commentary by John Carpenter and Kurt Russell
- Deleted Scenes — not that great
- Featurette — funniest thing is when Kurt Russell referred to the price of a movie ticket: $5
- Interview with the effects artist
- Music Video — John Carpenter’s band did the title song
My advice: Well you just listen to the ol’ Pork Chop Express — on a dark and stormy night, pop this DVD in for some fun and action…