- 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.
- Action Survivor: Jack's not an action guy despite his macho facade, and by the end is simply glad to be out of there. Despite this he leans more toward the badass side of this trope. He is brave, sort of competent, and Wang constantly asking for his help implies Jack has a bit of a reputation as a tough guy. He's just out of his element when dealing with magic.
- Audience Surrogate: Jack, being unfamiliar with the world he's entering, asks all the same questions that the audience is.
- "What is that—don't tell me!"
- "It will come out no more!" "What?! Huh? What will come out no more?!"
- "'Jack' what? I'm supposed to buy this shit? Come on, Dave, you've been around for ten thousand years and you still can't find one girl who will fit the bill? You must be doing something seriously wrong."
- Blatant Lies: After Jack shoots a mook, he gets a horrified expression on his face. When Eddie asks if it's the first time he's ever "plugged somebody," Jack suddenly adopts a macho facade and says, "'Course not!" .
- But Now I Must Go: Well, he is a truck driver, so it's part of his job.
- Butt-Monkey: Most of the comedy in the movie happens at his expense, be it that he is over his head and doesn't understands what the hell is going on, or he is the most useless person on the battlefield.
- Catch-Phrase: "It's all in the reflexes."
- Covered in Kisses: As a result, Jack has Gracie's lipstick smeared on his mouth when he's facing Lo Pan.
- 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."
- The Ditz: The poor guy clearly doesn't gets how over his head he is a lot of the time. Leads him into Fearless Fool territory.
- Firing in the Air a Lot: Tries this at the start of a fight scene but bits of the ceiling break off and knock him out.
- Funny Foreigner: At least in Little China he is. Loud, brash, and constantly needing things explained to him that everyone else seems to know about, and always good for some slapstick. He is what you get when you drop an Eagle Land character into a supernatural kung-fu flick.
- Ice-Cream Koan: Jack's weird, rambling philosophical speeches are intended to be the equivalent of the cliche ethnic sidekick's 'ancient wisdom'.
- It's All About Me: Humble Goal as it is, he is still charging into a millennia-old conflict only to get his truck back.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He is a jackass, but he will unhesitatingly help anybody he considers a friend.
- Large Ham: Lines like "Keep the home fires burning, and if we don't return, call the President!" really
- Mighty Whitey: Parodied. He's doing his best, but he's entirely in over his head and just wants to get his truck back.
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Against Rain. In fairness to Jack, Rain is a minor deity.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After their first confrontation with Lo Pan, Jack says he's going home and tells Wang to keep the money he owes him.
- 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.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Zig-zagged. Jack seems to have been waiting his whole life to be a larger-than-life action hero, but not in a story like this. He spends most of the film a step behind the plot and is often humiliated, but he eventually does achieve all of his goals and becomes a hero.
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.
- Mighty Whitey: As an alternative to Fake Mixed Race, she's another parody of this trope like Jack, meaning she's just a white reporter who has immersed herself in Little China and fancies herself an expert on the place and the people who live there. Note that before she gets kidnapped, she keeps explaining to the other Chinese and Chinese-American characters stuff that they already know.
- The Load: No one in Chinatown takes her very seriously.
A local restaurateur who is engaged to be married and friends with Jack Burton.
An ancient Chinese sorcerer cursed by Shang Di to become a body-less 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.
- And Now You Must Marry Me: Lo Pan needs to marry a girl with green eyes to become flesh again. He doesn't care about her consent.
- 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: All the forces of evil seen in the movie work for him.
- 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: While in his younger form, Lo Pan sports a truly impressive 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.
- Almighty Janitor: To the public, Egg Shen is just a tour bus driver... who also happens to be a sorcerer capable of standing up to an immortal wizard. It's lampshaded when Wang points out Egg is actually quite rich (owning the entire city block) and just plays it up for the tourists.
- Archenemy: To Lo Pan. It is heavily implied that they have been fighting for an unknown amount of years.
- Attack Reflector: Egg Shen uses a mirrored fan to send Lightning's lightning bolt attack back at him.
- Cool Old Guy: An old man but still able to take on Lo Pan.
- Deadpan Snarker: Boy, is he ever?Egg Shen: This is black blood of the Earth!Burton: You mean oil?Egg Shen: I mean black blood of the Earth!
- 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.
- Shock and Awe: Can summon lightning from his hands.
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.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: In his non-storm form.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: How he dies, courtesy of Wang throwing his sword at him while he's jumping towards him with no way to dodge in mid-air.
- Lightning Bruiser: As is the norm with the demigod Storms.
- Nice Hat: He shares this with the other two Storms.
- Psychotic Smirk: Often wears one.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Lightning's lightning bolts are extremely powerful and impressive, but very inaccurate. He hardly ever hits what he aims at on the first try.
- 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.
- Implacable Man: The most controlled of the trio, going beyond The Stoic.
- Nice Hat: You know the drill by now.
- Shock and Awe: As if the name didn't clue you in.