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Characters / Big Trouble in Little China

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    Jack Burton 
Played by: Kurt Russell
I'm a reasonable guy. But, I've just experienced some very unreasonable things.

  • 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.
  • Catchphrase: "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: 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 Eagleland character into a supernatural kung-fu flick.
  • Humble Goal: All Jack wants is to get his truck back. Unfortunately, that means having to deal with all of this supernatural wuxia crap.
  • 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: With lines like "Keep the home fires burning, and if we don't return, call the President!" and the John Wayne impression his actor puts on, it's pretty much inevitable.
  • Mighty Whitey: Parodied. He's doing his best, but he's entirely in over his head and just wants to get his truck back.
  • Playing with Character Type: Being played by Kurt Russell, you'd assume he's the Action Hero. As it turns out, he only thinks he's the hero, and he's an over the top parody of Russell's other roles like Snake Plisskin. The guy thinks he's a hero, but it's clear he's...not.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Most of the comedy surrounding Jack is the fact that he is this amongst the main cast and doesn't really knows he is.
  • 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.
  • The Smart Guy: His actual role in the story, shared with Egg Shen. He's the one coming up with the plans to infiltrate the brothel and the front organization.
  • Super Reflexes: About the one thing Jack legitimately has going for him is that his reaction time is pretty damn fast. To wit, he catches the empty bottle Wang fails to cut in half right before it flies into his face, to Wang's surprise. Later on, though he was likely helped by Egg Shen's Chinese formula, he caught his own knife thrown at him by Lo Pan and threw it back right between his all-powerful wizard's eyes faster than he could react.
  • 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, obviously growing up on a steady diet of John Wayne films if the way his swagger sounds like is a clue, 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.

    Gracie Law 
Played by: Kim Cattrall

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.
  • 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.

    Wang Chi 

Played by: Dennis Dun
Nothin' or double, Jack

A local restaurateur who is engaged to be married to his childhood friend, and friends with Jack Burton.

    David Lo Pan 

Played by: James Hong
"A young man, a king, a warrior...all entombed in this old man's crippled body."

An ancient Chinese sorcerer cursed by Qin Shi Huangdi 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.
  • Arch-Enemy: He seems to have some kind of personal grudge with Egg Shen. It's implied the two have fought before, with no conclusive victor.
    Lo Pan: You never could beat me, Egg Shen.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: If his fancy clothes and what little we learn about his past are any indication, he was a member of royalty back at the height of his power. Then there's his sneering remark to Egg Shen in the climax:
    Lo Pan: Peasant magic.
  • Beam-O-War: He engages in one with Egg Shen during the climax. Then the beams create astral warriors which battle each other with swords. [["Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Yes. This actually happens.]]
  • 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.
  • Cursed with Awesome: He was cursed into a state of undeath, roaming the world as an immortal ghost unable to feel the way a human does with a fraction of his original power, his corporeal form is a shriveled old man. In this state however, he is unkillable and he still has enough power and influence — both magical and political — to have his own army of humans and monsters to do his bidding.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    Lo Pan: Shut up, Mr. Burton! You were not brought upon this world to "get it"!
  • The Dreaded: Anyone who knows anything about Lo Pan is deeply alarmed by the prospect of his return.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: A rare male example in his ghostly form. He loses this upon becoming mortal again.
  • Evil Is Hammy: You can tell James Hong had fun playing this role.
  • Evil Old Folks: His corporeal form is a withered old man in a wheelchair.
  • Evil Overlord: Has ambitions to become one of these and isn't far from it now.
  • Giggling Villain: He lets out a rather high-pitched cackle from time to time.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Part of his mind control abilities, sometimes accompanied by a Throat Light.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: He likely would have killed Jack easily and won had he just blasted him with magic. Instead, he tries to kill Jack by throwing the latter's own knife at him, which Jack catches and hurls back to nail Lo Pan right between the eyes.
    • Possibly justified. He'd completed the ritual far enough to regain a mortal body, but hadn't sacrificed Miao Yin; so he hadn't regained his powers just yet. See Who Wants to Live Forever? for more details.
  • 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.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: His initial response to Jack's dry remarks about him ruling the world from beyond the grave is a rather gleeful "Indeed~!"
  • Take Over the World: At minimum, if his Motive Rant to Jack is anything to go by.
  • Throat Light: As part of his mind control powers.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: How does Lo Pan disguise himself as a naturalized Chinese-American, or at least someone born during the last century of Western contact, to pose as the head of the Wing Kong Exchange? He simply adds a "David" to his name.
  • 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.

    Egg Shen 

Played by: Victor Wong

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?
    Jack: That is not water.
    Egg Shen: Black blood of the Earth.
    Jack: 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 he owns the entire city block that holds his businesses, and 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.
  • The Smart Guy: Shares this role with Jack, given his knowledge of Lo Pan's powers and how best to counter them.

    Eddie Lee 

A maitre'd at Wang's restaurant.

  • Action Survivor: Lacks Wang's skills but handles himself in a fight (as well as killing) reasonably well.
  • Hidden Depths: Is able to find out what happened to Wang's fiancee fairly easily.

    Margo Litzenberger 

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.

    Miao Yin 

Wang's wife-to-be from China.


  • Badass in a Nice Suit: When passing himself off as a normal human.
  • 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.
  • Co-Dragons: He reports directly to Lo Pan alongside the other three Storms. It's worth noting that of the three, he's the one that personally accompanies Lo Pan when he tries to make off with Miao Yin.
  • 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.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: He's the "Fighter" of the Three Storms, relying on raw strength and brute force the most.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Ultimately, his main power seems to be self-inflation...except that this includes his muscle mass, giving him super-strength.
  • Immune to Bullets: The Chang Sings open fire on him and the other Storms during the gang war in the alleyway. The bullets don't even seem to connect.
  • Nice Hat: He shares this trope with the other two Storms.
  • "Pop!" Goes the Human: His eventual fate.
  • Phlebotinum Overload: Another interpretation of his death. He might have been charging up for an all-out attack on the heroes, only to lose control of his powers and explode.
  • Super Strength: He's powerful enough to shatter a machine pistol with his bare fist.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: During the ritual to test Lo Pan's brides, he performs a martial arts kata while shirtless.


  • Badass in a Nice Suit: In his non-storm outfit.
  • Badass Normal: His fighting style. Apart from blowing a rubber ball into Jack's chest while the latter's imprisoned, his primary method of attack - apart from flying around - is pure martial arts and swordplay.
  • Co-Dragons: He serves alongside the other two Storms as Lo Pan's personal enforcer.
  • Cool Sword: He wields a jian in his final battle.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: He's the "Thief" of the Three Storms, given that his fighting style is more graceful than the other two.
  • Immune to Bullets: Despite the Chang Sings shooting at him and the other two Storms, he doesn't even flinch.
  • 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.
  • Master Swordsman: He's the most graceful fighter out of the Three Storms.
  • Nice Hat: He shares this with the other two Storms.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Often wears one.
  • Torture Technician: Downplayed since he doesn't use any torture instruments, but he's the one that manhandles Jack and Wang when the duo are imprisoned in the Wing Kong's hideout.



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