Friday, July 23, 2021

Summer Indulgence: A Day with John Carpenter

Today's indulgent double feature is brought to you by Brother John who was shocked and dismayed to learn that I had never seen Big Trouble in Little China, and immediately provided the movie to rectify such a glaring omission in my movie viewing experience. He also kindly added to my John Carpenter collection with Assault on Precinct 13, since I had not seen it in nearly 40 years. 

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

"It's all in the reflexes."

This film is a martial arts action comedy that starts out with the requisite John Carpenter synth rock n roll music, and some quippy lines from Kurt Russell, who is the cocky, unlikely hero in this movie. While the movie begins with a gang war, we are quickly brought into the supernatural based in Chinese mythology as Jack Burton helps his friend Wang Chi rescue his green eyed fiancĂ©, who has been abducted by ancient sorcerer David Lo Pan, who needs her to marry him in order to release him from a curse. It makes absolutely no sense, but it doesn't need to. 

Heroic rescue.

Blow up.

David Lo Pan

Eyeball monster is my favorite. 

Eyeball tongue puts it over the top.

Why wouldn't there be a demonic beast?

When can we expect Part 2 of this film?

"I was born ready."

I thought this movie was a lot of fun to watch, and it really brings me back to my childhood days when pre-CGI movie monsters required a lot more skillful creativity to give them life. Perhaps it is just the nostalgia factor that allows me to appreciate them a bit more, and may be in part what had me thinking of the first Star Wars movie, in addition to Jack Burton, Wang Chi, and Gracie's similarities to Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia engaged in an adventurous fight against evil. This film would make a great double feature with They Live, and I was tempted to follow up with it, but instead decided to revisit one of John Carpenter's early films...

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

"Got a smoke?"

In this film, the cops ambush gang members in LA, who swear a blood oath against them, and apparently the ice cream man and little girls as well, as they go on a murderous rampage, laying siege to a police station that is in the process of being closed, forcing the few staff and prisoners to fight off the relentless gang. I first saw this film when I was too young to be able to appreciate it, and felt somewhat reticent to revisit it since the shocking vanilla twist scene was quite traumatizing to me. That, along with the moody opening music was what stuck with me most about this movie from my first viewing. 

A dad and his daughter on a hopeful drive.

Blood brothers off for a neighborhood crime cruise.

Why torment the ice cream man?

Because he's an evil monster.

Is she thinking she should have kept the plain vanilla?

Badass heroine.

Facing death.

Criminal vs. criminal.


He finally gets a smoke.

I have to say I've developed a new appreciation for this movie and really enjoyed seeing it again. It is a horrifying, tense, action packed movie with a memorable score and great acting. It is essentially Night of the Living Dead without the dismal ending. Unlike Barbra from that movie, Julie stands out as one of the toughest characters in the fight as she takes a bullet with barely a flinch, and then faces down an attacker with a gun and easily takes him out. One thing I enjoy about John Carpenter films is that you can appreciate them at face value, but if you take some time to examine them under the surface, you'll find some interesting commentary lurking. 

Thanks for adding these enjoyable movies to my collection, John! I look forward to exploring more John Carpenter movies in the future. 

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