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Big Trouble in Little China
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Big Trouble in Little China is a campy 1980s martial arts cult favorite from director John Carpenter. There's lots of fighting and weapons, although no blood or gore, but a few graphic close-ups show bones breaking. Some of the fighting involves magical elements and mystical beings. The plot involves forced marriage as part of a magic ritual. A few monsters are gross and may frighten kids too young to see through the obvious costumes. Human-trafficking victims are shown in cages and tied up. An underwater scene shows rotting corpses and skeletons chained up, and chained skeletons line the walls of a room. A magic ritual involves piercing a woman's wrist with a large bone needle. A few drops of blood are shown and the villain briefly drinks blood from the wrist. Drugs are mentioned as part of gang activity. Sexy stuff is light, with a few passionate kisses and mentions of attraction; a woman's body in a teddy is seen front and back. Language includes "f--k," with "s--t" and its variations used many times, as are other curse words.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
When trucker Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) delivers a load to San Francisco, little does he know he's in for BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. Jack reconnects with his old buddy Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) over a game of chance. Wang loses the bet, but before Jack can collect from his pal, they'll have to face three masked kidnappers, warring street gangs, a powerful crime lord -- oh, and a 2,000-year-old spirit trying to return to his body.
Is it any good?
If you and your teens want to laugh while you cringe at something so bad it's good, you've come to the right place. Cheesy one-liners, lots of fighting, hokey dialogue, high-waisted jeans, more fighting, gloriously awful creature costumes, incomprehensible plot turns, and even more fighting make Big Trouble in Little China a fun popcorn movie for the right fans in the right mood.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Big Trouble in Little China. Are movies today more violent? If so, how?
What makes a movie "so bad, it's good"? Do you think that's what the director was going for? How can you tell?
Did you notice any stereotyping in the movie? Are the Asian characters shown differently from the white ones, or are they pretty much the same?
- In theaters: July 2, 1986
- On DVD or streaming: May 22, 2001
- Cast: Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun
- Director: John Carpenter
- Studios: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, TAFT Entertainment Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
Themes & Topics
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.