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Geeky Reader: ‘The Official Making Of Big Trouble In Little China’ and ‘The Art Of Big Trouble In Little China’ (reviews)

Written by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry
With Forewords by John Carpenter
With Afterwords by Kurt Russell and Eric Powell
Published by BOOM! Studios

“I’m a reasonable guy. But, I’ve just experienced some very unreasonable things”.

— Jack Burton

The story of Jack Burton vs. David Lo Pan is one for the ages, and one who’s thirty year legacy owes a bit to it’s huge budget and legendary director John Carpenter’s overall vision. While it wasn’t the biggest hit at the box office, in fact it only made back $11 million of it’s astounding $25 million dollar budget, Big Trouble In Little China garnered a generation of loyal fans. Those fans regard the movie as a kung fu science fiction masterpiece destined for cable reruns and cult status.

In tandem, we’d like to present to you two books that take you deep below San Francisco and the furies that lay there. BOOM! Studios has released The Official Making of Big Trouble in Little China as well as The Art Of Big Trouble In Little China to reveal on set special effects secrets and in depth interviews with Carpenter, Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall round out editions celebrating this cult classic.

In 2014, BOOM! released a comic book series continuing the adventures of Jack Burton written by John Carpenter and Goon creator Eric Powell. A good chunk of The Art Of… revisits the series and includes interviews and backup material from comic book cover artists Joe Quinones, Jenny Frison, Rob Guillory and more.

In 2016, Boom! expanded the universe once more with a Big Trouble In Little China Illustrated Novel: Big Trouble In Mother Russia. This spot-illustrated novel is written by Matthew J. Elliot (RiffTrax) and drawn by Elena Casagrande (Doctor Who).

The Art Of… previews this 238 page tome as well as some of the toys created by Funko and others to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the film.

As with most Art of… books, it is meant to be enjoyed, as shelf porn and coffee table delights. Impress your houseguests, or freak out your mother-in-law entirely by leaving this one laying about. The landscape format is chock full of costume designs, ornate and decorative set design from John J. Lloyd (The Thing) and no shortage of interviews with the original team.

“The Guardian,” likely to make its appearance more than once in this combined review, gets plenty of ink in both books. The production company Boss Film spent nearly $100,000 and countless man-hours on the flying eye monster with animatronics and a design that has likely etched it’s way into many nightmares.

The Art Of Big Trouble In Little China has great book design and also a chapter dedicated to master poster artist Drew Struzan (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Drew: The Man Behind The Poster).  Drew provides never before seen preliminary sketches of his final poster, and some background to his design choices. Struzan is a huge fan of Big Trouble, and it shows in his art.

Tyler Stout, superstar poster artist of the modern age also give Jack and Lo Pan an edgy treatment in his Alamo Drafthouse series of prints, accompanied by a The Guardian patch for a 2007 showing of Big Trouble. If you aren’t familiar with his work, we suggest you check it out as well!

So much is covered in The Official Making Of Big Trouble In Little China (170+ pages)! that it would be tough to touch on it all! John Carpenter contributes more than just the forward to this behind-the-scenes book. Insights into production and marketing problems as well as actor relationships are revealed. Kurt Russell also delves into what drew him to the Jack Burton character in a hero movie where he isn’t exactly the hero but more comic relief.

Jack is a faux tough guy with a heart of gold, tearing up the countryside in his Pork Chop Express 18-wheeler at the height (or decline)! of CB radio culture. Look it up, kids! “What’s your handle”?

Russell drilled down to a version of Jack Burton that was part John Wayne but equal part clueless as to what was happening around him.

With behind the scenes photos, The Official Making Of Big Trouble In Little China will put you in the soundstage with the actors and crew of this over-the-top adventure story.

Kim Cattrall (Gracie Law) scored this roll after starring in Porky’s and Police Academy. Cattrall was convinced she botched the audition because she needed to go back into the room and retrieve her glasses! More eye trouble followed Kim on set. She needed to wear hard green contact lenses for shooting to match the key story point.

Kate Burton (Margo Litzenberger), daughter of Richard Burton, debuts in Big Trouble, as the much needed journalist character.

Chapters are also dedicated to Chinatown itself, costumes of The Three Storms, The Guardian and the Big Bad Lo Pan. Actor James Hong had to endure 10 hours of makeup for the 2000-year-old version of Lo Pan, something more easily done in CG these days, and perhaps fans of the film don’t realize how intensive these sessions used to get! Makeup artist Steve Johnson needed to excuse himself from the shoot that day — because he was laughing from exhaustion!

The book closes with an in-depth look at The Arcade fight scene at the end of the movie.

Shooting in large format, and with skilled (and not so skilled) martial artists ends up with a beautiful and elegant result. Egg Shen and Lo Pan facing off could rival a Star Wars light saber battle at the end of the day. Great stuff.

Fans of the movie should get both of these books to get the most out of what BOOM! is offering. Both books are rich with some overlap, but plenty is to be gained from reading both volumes.

Expand yourself into the comic and illustrated novel if you want more Jack Burton vs. David Lo Pan!



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