Big Trouble in Little China review

When truck driver Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) agrees to help rescue a kidnapped girl from a street gang in San Francisco's Chinatown, he thinks he's simply helping out a friend. But wherever Burton goes trouble is never far behind, and before long he's caught up in a plot involving a trio of supernaturally-powered killers and an ancient Chinese sorcerer with a thing for green-eyed girls.

Having managed to salvage a dwindling reputation in Hollywood with 1984's Starman, John Carpenter was offered the chance to helm a $25million blockbuster for 20th Century Fox. The studio was convinced that the film could be its answer to the Indiana Jones series, yet Carpenter's film only mustered $11million at the US box office when it hit screens in the summer of 1986.

However, just like The Thing before it, Big Trouble in Little China found a much more receptive audience waiting for it on video and TV. And while it's not in the same league as Carpenter and Russell's 1982 team-up, it's still terrific fun.

On the one hand, Carpenter gets to combine his love of '70s martial arts flicks with his affection for the rapid-fire dialogue and interplay of Howard Hawks. On the other, Russell was clearly having a blast lampooning the swagger and attitude of John Wayne. Together this adds up to a film with more action, more humour and more imagination than many of its contemporaries.

Picture: Arrow's UK Blu-ray release uses exactly the same hi-def master that 20th Century Fox employed for its 2009 US platter. Not that this is an issue, as it looks absolutely spectacular.

Correctly framed at 2.35:1, the AVC-encoded 1080p image boasts plenty of intricate detailing and wonderfully vibrant colour reproduction (just check out the neon hues of Chapter 10's magic duel). Black tones are impressively strong and the grain structure is free from digital tampering.
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: This Blu-ray provides two sonic choices: an LPCM 2.0 stereo track and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that appeared on Fox's US release. Both sound very good with the 5.1 effort creating a surprisingly credible and dynamic soundstage, despite some of the limitations of the source elements.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: All of the extras featured on the US disc are present. This includes another excellent chat-track from Carpenter and Russell, the isolated score (DTS-HD MA 5.1), an interview with visual effects producer Robert Edlund, eight deleted scenes, an extended ending, a vintage promo featurette, the hilarious music video, three trailers, six TV spots and a gallery of over 260 behind-the-scenes photos.

To that already impressive lineup Arrow has added brand-new interviews with Carpenter, Russell, cinematographer Dean Cundey, producer Larry Franco and stuntman Jeff Imada. And you also get a 40-page booklet containing a new essay from film critic John Kenneth Muir and a reprint of a 1986 article about the film's production design by Les Paul Robley.
Extras rating: 4.5/5

We say: Arrow nails it yet again with this great hi-def platter for the fan-favourite action-comedy

Big Trouble in Little China, Arrow Video, Region B BD, £23 Approx