Big Trouble in Little China announced as a Sequel, not a Remake

Nikola Budanovic
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(Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)

John Carpenter fans around the globe are watching closely as news unravels on the fate of an alleged remake of the 1986 cult classic Big Trouble in Little China.

Since 2015, it has been announced that a reboot was in the making, with the main role given to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson ― a wrestler-turned-actor, and star of the Fast and Furious franchise.

For those unfamiliar, Big Trouble in Little China is one of the all-time classics of the 1980s comedy/action/fantasy genre. It involves a highly reluctant trucker named Jack Burton, who ends up fighting supernatural creatures in the Chinatown underworld in an effort to save his friend’s fiance from an ancient sorcerer who attempts to sacrifice her to the gods.

Dwayne Johnson. Photo by Eva Rinaldi CC BY-SA 2.0

It is as weird as it sounds, and even though it was a box-office flop, the film has earned a loyal cult following over the years. The movie summarized the entire decade into one hilarious, over-the-top, trashy flick, with Kurt Russell in his natural state, playing a laid-back trucker who is also handy with a gun.

However, even though the next feature was repeatedly confirmed as a remake, it appears as though the creators have decided to turn it into a sequel.

Kurt Russell in a 1974 publicity photo.

Hiram Garcia, who will produce this next installment told Collider on August 27, 2018:

“You can’t remake a classic like that, so what we’re planning to do is we’re going to continue the story. We’re going to continue the universe of Big Trouble in Little China. Everything that happened in the original exists and is standalone and I think there’s only one person that could ever play Jack Burton, so Dwayne would never try and play that character. So we are just having a lot of fun.”

Apparently, this plot twist regarding the production sparked further intrigue in an already controversial project.

Kurt Russell on the set of The Thing. Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Since the director of horror classics such as The Thing and Halloween has garnered a great fan base over the years, it is understandable that the sequel to one of the most iconic movies of the 1980s has prompted a backlash from fans who believe that such an effort is unnecessary and could only spoil the original.

Aware of this, the producers, headed by Dwayne Johnson himself, made several attempts to appease the audience ― some of which backfired. In the early days of pre-production, the actor claimed that he had contacted Carpenter, inviting him in on the project.

John Carpenter at a signing in Chicago, 2014. Photo by GabboT CC BY-SA 2.0

The famous director denied any such contact. Regarding Johnson’s previous statement, Carpenter told Screen Rant in 2016:

“No. No one’s talked to me about it. Haven’t heard a thing!”

Of course, this only further infuriated hardcore fans. Johnson added that Big Trouble in Little China is among his favorite movies of all time, promising to do justice to the original movie. But the audience remains more polarized than ever.

Actor James Hong with a copy of Big Trouble in Little China. Photo by Carter McKendry CC BY 2.0

Apart from Johnson and Garcia, who is also credited as one of the producers of the project, the creative team includes Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz, the screenwriters behind X-Men: First Class.

Since news of the sequel surfaced, fans are getting more and more restless. Still, it appears as though everyone agrees that a continuation of the story is a better solution than a simple remake, as remakes often mistreat the original film, or simply fail to recreate the charm and magic of its predecessor.

Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China Cosplay at Wizard World Chicago 2011. Photo by GabboT – 27 CC BY-SA 2.0

Still, a sequel raises numerous other questions, like how will it be connected to the original, or in which timeline will the story occur? Since Johnson won’t be playing Burton, will Kurt Russell perhaps reprise his role?

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We hope to find all this out soon, as this intriguing project sure seems to have garnered large interest, despite the fact that the film is still in its developmental phase and a lot more could change before its release.


Nikola Budanovic is a freelance journalist who has worked for various media outlets such as Vice, War History Online, The Vintage News, and Taste of Cinema. His main areas of interest are history, particularly military history, literature and film.