- Action Hero: Averted. He tries to be all tough and macho, but everything just backfires on him. On the DVD Commentary, John Carpenter and Kurt Russell said that Jack is a man who thinks he's the action hero, but really he's the sidekick.
- All American Face: A Deconstructive Parody of this. Burton sports a James Dean pompadour and drawls like John Wayne, but lives up to these iconic images of American masculinity with less than perfect aplomb. Overconfident and always slightly behind the information curve, his bombast sometimes pays off, but more often makes him the butt of a slapstick gag. For a light comic performance, Kurt Russell walks a very precise tightrope, giving Jack a puppyish quality that redeems his made-in-America arrogance. The audience roots for him to succeed, and to be taken down a peg or two along the way.
- Bad Ass: Appears less so compared to Wang, but he is a legitimate badass too, willing to walk into mortal danger beside Wang, taking out quite a few Mooks over the course of the film, and of course killing Lo Pan.
- But Now I Must Go: Well, he is a truck driver, so it's part of his job.
- Catch Phrase: "It's all in the reflexes."
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Jack: ...so you can go off and rule the universe beyond the grave...Lo Pan: Indeed!Jack: Or check into a psycho ward, which ever comes first, huh?
- Did Not Get the Girl: He doesn't hook up with Gracie despite their chemistry. In an interesting variation, it's by choice. "Sooner or later I rub everybody the wrong way."
- Ice-Cream Koan: Jack's weird, rambling philosophical speeches are intended to be the equivalent of the cliche ethnic sidekick's 'ancient wisdom'.
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Against Rain. In fairness to Jack, Rain is a minor deity.
- Supporting Protagonist: According to Word of God.
- Third-Person Person: Frequently, although it doesn't always work."Ah, you know what ol' Jack Burton says at a time like this?"
"Jack Burton! Me!"
- True Companions: He is very loyal to Wang, and doesn't hesitate to help him out with rescuing Miao Yin.
A crusading lawyer with an interest in Chinatown affairs and social justice. She is considered an annoyance by everyone in Chinatown.
- Distressed Damsel: Her role in the story.
- Hello, Attorney!: She is played by Kim Cattrall and a lawyer.
- Fake Mixed Race: Gracie Law is implied to be a woman of mixed European and Chinese descent due to her interest in Chinatown affairs, considering them her people, and the fact she qualifies as a Chinese woman with green eyes due to Lo Pan's equal. Kim Cattrall is not of Chinese descent in any way.
- The Load: No one in Chinatown takes her very seriously.
A local restaurateur who is engaged to be married and friends with Jack Burton.
David Lo Pan
An ancient Chinese sorcerer cursed by Shang Di to become a bodiless spirit. He is now leader of a criminal syndicate in Chinatown.
- Age Without Youth: Seems to be part of the curse. See Who Wants to Live Forever? below.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: He wants to regain his mortal form. He does, and Jack promptly puts a knife in his head.
- Big Bad
- Deadpan Snarker:Lo Pan: Shut up, Mr. Burton! You were not brought upon this world to "get it"!
- Evil Is Hammy: You can tell James Hong had fun playing this role.
- Evil Overlord: Has ambitions to become one of these and isn't far from it now.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Part of his mind control abilities, sometimes accompanied by a Throat Light.
- Humanoid Abomination: Several people try to explain what Lo Pan is in vague and often contradicting ways. Whatever he is, he's not human - or at least not anymore. Lo Pan himself claims that he is "like nothing you can understand."
- Nice Hat
- Really 700 Years Old: He's around 2000 years old.
- Throat Light: As part of his mind control powers.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Subverted, as he DOES want to remain immortal, he just doesn't want to have to give up corporeality to do it. Marrying a green-eyed Chinese girl means he gets his corporeal body back but loses his magic and immortality, and sacrificing the girl to his demon means he gets to have both a physical body and godly power.
A local tour-bus driver (and secret sorcerer) who is enemies with Lo Pan.
- Archenemy: To Lo Pan.
- Bad Ass Grandpa: An old man but still able to take on Lo Pan.
- Deadpan Snarker: Boy, is he ever?
- The Mentor: Plays this role to a small extent.
- Secretly Wealthy: He drives a tour bus and owns a shop full of random crap... at least to Western eyes. According to Wang the things in his shop are priceless to people with a knowledge of the occult, which gives him significant influence in Chinatown.
A maitre'd at Wang's restaurant.
A reporter for the Berkeley Peoples Herald caught up in the action while investigating a prostitution ring.
- Intrepid Reporter: Even while held prisoner in the bowels of Lo Pan's compound, she busies herself writing a first-person account.
Wang's wife-to-be from China.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: In his non-storm form.
- Body Horror: When he loses control of his strength-giving inflation powers, the end results aren't pretty.
- The Brute: Of all the Storms, this is the one who uses the most straightforward attacks. Graceful elegance is...not his thing.
- Driven to Suicide: When he sees Lo Pan dead, he is upset because without anyone to serve, he can't go on living. So he blows himself up.
- Nice Hat: He shares this trope with the other two Storms.
- Pop Goes the Human: His eventual fate.
- Bad Ass: Noteworthy among the three Storms, as he uses no fancy powers in combat aside from flight—his swordfight with Wang Chi is otherwise a contest of pure skill.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: In his non-storm form.
- Lightning Bruiser: As is the norm with the demigod Storms.
- Nice Hat: He shares this with the other two Storms.
- Death by Looking Up: He looks up just as he's about to fry Wang Chi, just in time to see a statue crashing down on him.
- Co-Dragons: He shares this role with the other two Storms to Lo Pan.
- Dragon Their Feet After Lo Pan's death he's the last enemy that the gang encounters.
- Nice Hat: You know the drill by now.
- Shock and Awe: As if the name didn't clue you in.