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RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 28/2/2006 10:32:38 PM   
Rhubarb


Posts: 24509
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: No Direction Home
quote:

ORIGINAL: stuartbannerman

Rhubarb. Glad you enjoyed The Thing. I recommend Halloween, Escape From New York, In The Mouth Of Madness, Big Trouble In Little China  for starters....


cheers. i was going to ask what people thought i should watch next. i've been meaning to watch Halloween for ages, just not got round to it. will check the others out too!

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quote:

ORIGINAL: FritzlFan

You organisational skills sicken me, Rhubarb.



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Post #: 121
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 28/2/2006 10:41:53 PM   
NadaPlissken


Posts: 1297
Joined: 4/12/2005
From: Hobb's End
Big Trouble In Little China will either leave going WTF or convince you that Carpenter is, indeed, a genius.  Hopefully you'll become a Burtonite after you're first viewing.

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Post #: 122
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 1/3/2006 3:11:39 PM   
tbird


Posts: 4118
Joined: 10/10/2005
From: the cupboard under the stairs
My favourite Carpenter movie would have to be Halloween although The Thing a close second.

I'm looking forward to seeing that Masters of Horror short he's directed on DVD. Should be interesting to see whether he has still got the magic after producing some awful films in recent years.

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Post #: 123
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 2/3/2006 12:54:32 AM   
MadMart


Posts: 14
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: London
Watching Big Trouble in Little China always makes me want to wear a big basket on my head.
Carpenter, when he's not trying, manages to pull off uber cool. Just a shame that he tries more often than not.

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Post #: 124
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 2/3/2006 10:08:56 AM   
stuartbannerman


Posts: 1088
Joined: 30/9/2005
John Carpenter: King of the DVD commenteries................he is better when teamed with a co-talker, but even alone he still makes us like him even more with his laid back, normal banter.

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Post #: 125
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 2/3/2006 10:33:32 AM   
Companero


Posts: 626
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: London Violenta, UK
quote:

ORIGINAL: stuartbannerman

John Carpenter: King of the DVD commenteries................he is better when teamed with a co-talker, but even alone he still makes us like him even more with his laid back, normal banter.


His commentaries are never dull - along with Paul Verhoeven and William Lustig (of Maniac and Vigilante fame), Carpenter is among my favourite DVD commentators - his chat-tracks with Kurt Russell are like being at a family barbeque!

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Post #: 126
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 2/3/2006 11:15:26 AM   
stuartbannerman


Posts: 1088
Joined: 30/9/2005
Question: If ive never listened to a DVD commentery EVER, why should i?

Answer: Kurt Russell / John Carpenter. Nuff Said, no further explanation needed   


(Big Trouble in Little China, Escape from New York, The Thing)


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Post #: 127
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 2/3/2006 12:37:21 PM   
Ant_1971


Posts: 105
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: England
quote:

ORIGINAL: Companero

Carpenter is among my favourite DVD commentators - his chat-tracks with Kurt Russell are like being at a family barbeque!


That's absolutely bang on. Couldn't agree any more! Buying a Carpenter DVD with a commentary featured (as most do) makes them an even more essential purchase. There's no doubt he loves and embraces the dvd treatment his movies receive, every film that has a chat track with Russell is worthy of any dvd collectors shelf. 

I do believe if Empire are looking for a quote to feature in next months mag, they might just have found it. Well done Mr Companero!

< Message edited by Ant_1971 -- 2/3/2006 12:39:46 PM >

(in reply to Companero)
Post #: 128
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 2/3/2006 1:23:47 PM   
Ant_1971


Posts: 105
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: England
quote:

ORIGINAL: jolly_ramon

Carpenter seems to tread a fine line between Genius and Trash, with no in-between.

It's too bad that for nearly 20 years now, (since Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing, They Live) fun , inventivennes and originality have been severely lacking.




This is the most common complaint among both Carpenter fans and detractors. On the basis of his 1974-1988 years, he's my favourite filmmaking idol, but I'll concede that THEY LIVE was probably his last really decent film.

Part of the problem is that though he's very much an "auteur," his frequent collaborators in his early days helped elevate the visual and aural qualities of his films. Around the time of PRINCE OF DARKNESS, many of his regular tech crew kind of jumped ship, and by the time of IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, the technical polish of his early stuff was replaced with a generic, flat, almost made for USA Network look and feel.

As I've said here before, the loss of cinematographer Dean Cundey, who shot the first three HALLOWEENs, THE FOG, THE THING, ESCAPE NY, and BIG TROUBLE... was pretty harsh. His current long-time DP, Gary Kibbe, has a very bland, almost style-less look that's a far cry from Cundey's beautifully eerie nightscapes and use of shadow and foreground.

The loss of co-composer/ synth-meister Alan Howarth was pretty drastic, too. True, no one really uses analog synth scores anymore, so maybe that's why they split, but Carpenter's Trixter-esque blues rock-metal scores of recent years sound far cheesier than cool ambient synth notes.

His earlier casts had a little more panache too. ESCAPE FROM LA has some fun stunt casting, but his casts feel low-rent now (Daniel Baldwin? Kirstie Alley?), and aren't filled with the simpatico B-players of his early work, like the great Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers, Harry Dean Stanton, etc.

I also miss his old trademark white on black credits. GHOSTS OF MARS had thoroughly generic titles.

I also think that Carpenter is a little too flattered by Robert Rodriguez's appreciation of his work, and is overcompensating by trying to return the favor by emulating Rodriguez's style... VAMPIRES and GHOSTS OF MARS were in Rodriguez-vision, only without the flair or energy of RR's work.

In short, I'd advise anyone looking to find the best of Carpenter's work to stick with anything from the ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 to THEY LIVE era. MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN is an admitted hired-gun job, but it's entertaining. IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS is underrated by but technically bland compared to his early stuff. VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED is icily unpleasant AND TV-movieish. ESCAPE FROM L.A. is amusing but mediocre. So is VAMPIRES. And GHOSTS OF MARS seems pretty phoned-in.




Im really looking forward to the feature in next month's Empire. I trust whoever's writing it will give the big man some overdue credit for all the work he does for the shiny disc cause - he deserves it!! 

Ps, I think Carpenter said it himself: "In Germany, I'm a genius; In France, I'm an auteur; In America, I'm a hack."   

Brilliant

< Message edited by Ant_1971 -- 2/3/2006 1:40:48 PM >

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Post #: 129
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 2/3/2006 1:40:37 PM   
stuartbannerman


Posts: 1088
Joined: 30/9/2005
Robert Rodriguez is indeed the John Carpenter for the new Millenium. He is better at low budget films than massive studio flicks and uses the same casting choices as JC (using the same actors for many projects over many years) JC doesnt emulate RR, its the other way around.


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Post #: 130
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 2/3/2006 1:51:15 PM   
Companero


Posts: 626
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: London Violenta, UK
quote:

ORIGINAL: Ant_1971

Part of the problem is that though he's very much an "auteur," his frequent collaborators in his early days helped elevate the visual and aural qualities of his films.


They were so good at what they did, they were nicked by the likes of Spielberg or in the cases of Tommy Lee Wallace and Nick Castle, became directors in their own right.
 
A lot of people place the blame at the director's door but there's a lot to be said for the effect their collaborators have. Peter Bogdanovich is another great filmmaker that fell foul to the departure of one of his frequent collaborators - his wife, Polly Platt. Although in most cases she was credited as a Production designer, she did work on the scripts and apparently kept the director's ego grounded - he certainly hasn't made a great film since they split...

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Post #: 131
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 2/3/2006 1:57:15 PM   
Ant_1971


Posts: 105
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: England
Very true. The work Dean Cundy did on Jurassic Park is right up there with the very best work any DP has ever done

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Post #: 132
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 2/3/2006 2:26:45 PM   
stuartbannerman


Posts: 1088
Joined: 30/9/2005
2006 / 2007 sees two new John Carpenter films being unleashed.
Psychopath (Written and Directed by John)
&
The 13th Apostle.

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Post #: 133
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 2/3/2006 2:35:01 PM   
Ant_1971


Posts: 105
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: England
quote:

ORIGINAL: Gazz

The Thing was the first and most terrifying horror film I saw. Back then I was four years old and I still remember the look on Palmers face as he uttered that infamous line "You've got to be fucking kidding me". Though I also remember the look on Norris' face as it scurried away on six newly formed legs. This was John Carpenter at his very best. Sixteen years on and The Thing is still able to give me the same chills, shudders and jumps without falter.

Rob Bottin locked himself in the studio for little over a year in order to create the special effects and during the final stages of production, was diagnosed with extreme exhaustion. The result is that the film hasn't aged a singular year. We live in a time when directors have it much easier thanks to the aid of CGI, though back in 1982 Rob Bottin, John Carpenter and a little of Stan Winston carved their names into film history by creating the impossible through practical effects. This is film dedication at it's peak.


Great write up Gazz. Agree with everything you say there.


THE THING, for me, is John Carpenter's best moment as a director. I can remember seeing it when it first came out, and as a fan of the original movie and short story "Who Goes There", i was very excited before seeing it. I found it interesting that Carpenter's 'The Thing' was a lot closer to the original 1940's short story by John W. Campbell, Jr. than the 1950's film.

The characters' interactions reminded me of another Carpenter film, DARK STAR, in both we have a small group of men, shut in tight confines in a hostile environment. Just doing their jobs is a struggle, and tensions between the men are high.

Now, like in DARK STAR, throw in an alien to ignite the tensions. Unlike 'Dark Star', where the alien is a beach ball with flippers, the alien in The Thing is truly one of the most horrific cinema creations. It was mostly built and operated by Rob Bottin (who went on to appear as lead ghost Blake in THE FOG nonetheless), with help from Stan Winston. It really doesnt get better than those two for sfx!!    THE THING has some of the most memorable and well done rubber and latex sfx in any film, and i am thankful that CGI was not being used much back then. Having the physical creature in the room with the actors gives the showstopper after showstopper scenes serious impact.

The actors all do a fine job. The only real Carpenter regular in this is Kurt Russell, who looks a bit like Yosemite Sam with his 10 gallon hat, but he turns in a fine, physical, tough-guy performance. For me, the real stand-out performance in this is by Wilford Brimley, as the only character who really knows whats happening, he draws you into the horror of the situation, and doesnt get the credit he deserves for making this such a fine, fine film.

The Ennio Morricone score is classic horror movie music, with long drawn out "psycho"-esque strings. Its beautiful stuff. Carpenter's minimalist heartbeat synth score adds much to the tension.

Carpenter's build up in the beginning of the film is very well done. The tensions between the men are quickly established, and the eerie atmosphere of the camp is communicated by long tracking shots through empty corridors. Dean Cundey's lighting and cinematography add greatly to the old-fashioned hollywood horror look of the picture. as the story progresses, Carpenter delves into characters' alienation, not only from each other, but eventually from their own selves as the thing takes them over. Dehumanization and paranoia as to who is The Thing is visually represented by group scenes of the men standing in the snow with their faces covered by goggles and scarves. The transformation scenes are expertly directed and often explode out of nowhere after a great deal of tension is built up. The "blood test" scene is especially potent, with the mixture of tensions between the men and the threat of the thing, and is sustained all the way through the end when Macready throws the dynamite.

Underneath the sci-fi/horror text of the film is a current of madness. early in the film one of the scientists mentions cabin fever, and the men seem on the brink of it themselves. Ive always wondered if "The Thing" was really about what it is like to lose your mind from cabin fever, as seen from the eyes of those who are going mad. The way the men turn on each other, go mad, and even commit suicide all point to this. Is it a group hallucination triggered by the discovery of a real alien craft, or has a shape-shifting alien being taken over? Notice at the end the camp is destroyed and all but two are dead, so there can be no real proof either way, which is a classic symptom of paranoid delusion. The sets in THE THING are very typical of Carpenter. He has a way of filming a crowded or cramped set to make it look empty - especially in ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. Also, he places pockets of darkness in the picture frame that increase the tension, or uses the scope frame to include an empty door. The scene where one of the scientists is in his room with his back to an open door was one of the scariest for me, just because the way the camera framed it and how Carpenter let the scene go on for a few beats longer than it needed. It had me holding my breath, but nothing happened. The anamorphic framing was also used to MASSIVE effect........the part where the knife is grabbed and held before attacking Macready is pure Carpenter - watch it in pan & scan and you'd have missed it completely (like so many other shots in Halloween)

Many critics were turned off by the incredible monster effects. The transformation scenes transcend mere gore and enter the territory of the surreal. The images from the mangled thing/ human hybred could have been from Dali's worst nightmares. Still incredibly effective all these years on, i dread a remake in CGI just for this part alone. With regards to effective use of an impressive soundtrack, Carpenter has always paid special attention to sound effects, none more so than here. Anyone revisiting this dvd should check out the sound fx - this movie includes the unearthly howling of the dog/ thing, the sound of the legs growing out of the head, the defibrulator chest scene, and many of the other creature sounds as The Thing transforms. I would argue that THE THING is John's best work to date over his other movies, in that he relied on GREAT sound effects to convey gore, as well as the visuals. Smart because it adds extra gravitas to the already excellent visuals; CLEVER as you might be covering your eyes, but theres still a massive audiable impact. Fantastic in every way The budget for the film was 10 million dollars. Not too shabby, I think that it would be hard to create a better version of the same film even with 80 million dollars. THE THING has belatedly gotten more respect, and shows up on many top ten horror movie lists. I will go one further, and say i think this is one of the best films made in the last 50 years.

< Message edited by Ant_1971 -- 2/3/2006 3:15:24 PM >

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Post #: 134
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 2/3/2006 2:36:55 PM   
Companero


Posts: 626
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: London Violenta, UK
quote:

ORIGINAL: stuartbannerman

2006 / 2007 sees two new John Carpenter films being unleashed.
Psychopath (Written and Directed by John)
&
The 13th Apostle.


The 13th Apostle centres on a technophobic who reluctantly joins forces with a stockbroker to track down group of serial killers who stalk their prey through the internet - Not being pessimistic but this scenario doesn't have "return to form" written all over it, IMO

Secondly, there have been two films that have done the internet-based serial killer thing already, Pedro L. Barbero's Tuno Negro (2001) and Dario Argento's Il Cartaio (The Card Player - 2003).

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Post #: 135
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 3/3/2006 4:14:20 PM   
Jeremy Phillips

 

Posts: 2
Joined: 15/12/2005
Something that I'm surprised people rarely pick up is the clever undermining of the action movie going on under the surface of Big Trouble in Little China. Jack Burton is not the leading character in the story - Wang is. Jack is the comic relief.
 
Every time a fight breaks out, Jack bungles his side, and blusters to cover up for his incompetence. The fight in the warehouse, where they are looking for Wang's girlfriend, sees him finish off half a dozen bad guys while Jack scrabbles around on the floor, looking for his knife. In the big rumble at the end, the first thing Jack does in knock himself unconscious and spend several minutes out cold while Wang engages Lo Pan in combat. He doesn't even get the girl.
 
Escape From LA I think is a very misunderstood film. Like BTILC, it's a parody of action films, mixed in with satire, and takes a familiar character from Carpenter's own back catalogue to explore and subvert the fictional world.
 
Consider the set-up: a Christian fundamentalist wins the 2000 presidential election, and consolidates his power through a massive cataclysm. His moral crusade results in the deportation to an off-shore prison those deemed undesirable, while the law becomes increasingly strict regarding what is "allowable" in the USA. "The United States is a non-smoking nation." Surely a terrifying prospect to a life-long smoker like Carpenter.
 
Ultimately, Plissken is forced to make a decision over whether to allow the US to crush the opposition, or allow an invading force, which is probably worse, to take over (It's clearly more than just a surface resemblance between Cuervo Jones and Che Guevara). Plissken decides that neither should win, and shuts down the Earth, wiping out 500 years of progress, but letting the world stay as free as possible.
 
Carpenter has a very strong anti-establishment record in his films, twice portraying the President of the USA as a snivelling coward, depicting the Church as deceitful and corrupt, governments as motivated by power, fear and self-interest, and capitalists as sub-human. It may not be surprising that he can't get films funded by studios, not with an attitude like that.

(in reply to Companero)
Post #: 136
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 3/3/2006 4:31:37 PM   
Companero


Posts: 626
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: London Violenta, UK
quote:

ORIGINAL: Jeremy Phillips

Something that I'm surprised people rarely pick up is the clever undermining of the action movie going on under the surface of Big Trouble in Little China. Jack Burton is not the leading character in the story - Wang is. Jack is the comic relief.
 
Every time a fight breaks out, Jack bungles his side, and blusters to cover up for his incompetence. The fight in the warehouse, where they are looking for Wang's girlfriend, sees him finish off half a dozen bad guys while Jack scrabbles around on the floor, looking for his knife. In the big rumble at the end, the first thing Jack does in knock himself unconscious and spend several minutes out cold while Wang engages Lo Pan in combat. He doesn't even get the girl.
 
Escape From LA I think is a very misunderstood film. Like BTILC, it's a parody of action films, mixed in with satire, and takes a familiar character from Carpenter's own back catalogue to explore and subvert the fictional world.
 
Consider the set-up: a Christian fundamentalist wins the 2000 presidential election, and consolidates his power through a massive cataclysm. His moral crusade results in the deportation to an off-shore prison those deemed undesirable, while the law becomes increasingly strict regarding what is "allowable" in the USA. "The United States is a non-smoking nation." Surely a terrifying prospect to a life-long smoker like Carpenter.
 
Ultimately, Plissken is forced to make a decision over whether to allow the US to crush the opposition, or allow an invading force, which is probably worse, to take over (It's clearly more than just a surface resemblance between Cuervo Jones and Che Guevara). Plissken decides that neither should win, and shuts down the Earth, wiping out 500 years of progress, but letting the world stay as free as possible.
 
Carpenter has a very strong anti-establishment record in his films, twice portraying the President of the USA as a snivelling coward, depicting the Church as deceitful and corrupt, governments as motivated by power, fear and self-interest, and capitalists as sub-human. It may not be surprising that he can't get films funded by studios, not with an attitude like that.


A superb post there, Jeremy. To be honest, itís been at least 7 or 8 years since I last saw Escape From LA and while I wasnít impressed by the film, your comments have motivated me to watch it again.

(in reply to Jeremy Phillips)
Post #: 137
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 3/3/2006 4:32:37 PM   
clownfoot


Posts: 7934
Joined: 26/9/2005
From: The ickle town of Fuck, Austria
quote:

ORIGINAL: Jeremy Phillips

Something that I'm surprised people rarely pick up is the clever undermining of the action movie going on under the surface of Big Trouble in Little China. Jack Burton is not the leading character in the story - Wang is. Jack is the comic relief.
 
Every time a fight breaks out, Jack bungles his side, and blusters to cover up for his incompetence. The fight in the warehouse, where they are looking for Wang's girlfriend, sees him finish off half a dozen bad guys while Jack scrabbles around on the floor, looking for his knife. In the big rumble at the end, the first thing Jack does in knock himself unconscious and spend several minutes out cold while Wang engages Lo Pan in combat. He doesn't even get the girl.


Have you been reading my Big Trouble in Little China Review? If not then I salute you for your astute observation...

quote:

The eighties, for me at least, was a golden age of cinema! Family and kids films were produced without being sickly sweet or condescending in tone and produced decent plots that did not require the needless extravaganza of modern day CGI blockbusters that now supliment and cover-up the lack of any decent or intelligent story. Compared with today's family orientated cinema eighties films provided audiences with enjoyable, refreshing and original tales that played out in a mostly camp, witty, smart and hip way. The Princess Bride, The Goonies, Tron, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Time Bandits, The Last Star Fighter, Willow, Flash Gordon, Short Circuit and Ghostbusters, among others, are all testament to this filmmaking virtue of the eighties. From this era of fantastic films and delightful gems comes Big Trouble in Little China - probably the best of the lot!

Kurt Russell (The Thing, Escape from New York) stars as Jack Burton, a wisecracking loud-mouthed truck driver, high on listening to his own voice, low on brain cells, who thinks he knows quite a bit, but in fact knows very little. After his friend Wang Chi's (David Dunn) fiancee is kidnapped by the Lords of Death, so she can fufill the requirements of removing a 2,000 year curse from undead sorcerer Lo Pan (James Hong), and his truck is stolen, Jack finds himself embroiled in an adventure that takes him to the dark underworld of San Francisco's Chinatown. A supernatural battle of good and evil follows featuring sorcery, magic, monsters, martial arts, immortal enemies, stunning swordfights and Jack's own brand of bravado and idiocy, as he and Wang shake the pillars of heaven in order to save Wang's fiancee, put a stop to Lo Pan's tyranny and, at any cost, find Jack's truck.

The plot is appropriately silly, but what lifts this film above others is the way it plays out. The characterisations are realistic, especially by Russell who plays Jack Burton incredibly well. In fact this film is all about Kurt Russell. He is a tough guy, but thrown into a situation he knows little about makes some of his actions funny in the extreme. Tough talking one of the Three Storms (Lo Pans immortal henchmen) isn't exactly the best thing to do, but Jack does so none the less - the audiences enjoyment of the film is no doubt down to the amount of punishment and humility that Jack suffers at the hands of others. It is the opposites of his machismo and idiocy, (facing off against Lo Pan wearing lipstick) combined with a cracking script of wonderful "I fear nothing" one-liners that makes Jack Burton entirely memorable! "It's all in the reflexes" and "You know what Jack Burton always says... what the hell?" being two of the most quotable.

Furthermore, Kurt pulls off the great trick of being the named actor of the film, but not the real hero. David Dunn's Wang Chi, starting off as Jack's quiet, nonchalant, asian-american best friend, reverts against sidekick sterotype to be the real saviour of the day - as shown by his beating of seven goons deftly with fantastic martial arts skills while Jack fumbles for a combat knife in his boot. Not only is it a deliciously funny sequence, it also illustrates a unique role-reversal little seen in other American action films.

The rest of the cast are equally assured in backing up Russell's centrepiece. James Hong as Lo Pan is meanacing in his intent and Victor Wong plays a perfect foil as Egg Chen, Lo Pan's long time magic rival. The love interest played by Kim Catterall (Samantha in Sex in the City) is quirky and energetic, again supplying a unique reversal on an oft used characterisation by the end of the film. Indeed, it would seem Jack has more love for his truck than he does for the leading lady.

Add to the acting performances some fine direction by John Carpenter with deftly crafted yet viscious combat scenes, pulling off at least two genuine jumps and excellent editing giving the film a cracking pace (there is no lull in the action or frentic dialogue) and what you have is a movie they quite simply don't make anymore.

Big Trouble in Little China is a unique little movie, possibly misunderstood in its own time (resulting in it being a box office flop) but something well worth investigating amongst the current myriad of pointless sequel making and overblown CGI fests. In the manliness and stupidity of Jack Burton, the quirky characterisations throughout (in particular the three storms and Egg Chen) and a genuinly interesting, albeit slightly absurd, story, Big Trouble in Little China delivers in more ways than you could ever think possible. And if that doesn't convince you where else are you going to hear dialogue of this quality: -

"When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, looks you crooked in the eye and asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like that: "Have ya paid your dues, Jack?" "Yessir, the check is in the mail." " Utter genius!

Overall - What at first seems like overblown, heavy-handed kung-fu nonsense is in fact a fast-paced, undeniably entertaining piece of old-fashioned adventure with tongue firmly in cheek. Both Kurt Russell and director Carpenter are in peak form and keep the action and subtle laughs coming. This is one of the most underappreciated cult classics ever made. A brilliant movie which you will love!!


< Message edited by clownfoot -- 3/3/2006 4:33:39 PM >


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Post #: 138
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 3/3/2006 4:49:58 PM   
Jeremy Phillips

 

Posts: 2
Joined: 15/12/2005
I hadn't read your review, but I had the whole sidekick thing pointed out to me, so I can't claim that I made an original observation, I just hadn't noticed it in skim-reading the thread.

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Post #: 139
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 3/3/2006 6:30:42 PM   
NadaPlissken


Posts: 1297
Joined: 4/12/2005
From: Hobb's End
quote:

ORIGINAL: Jeremy Phillips

Something that I'm surprised people rarely pick up is the clever undermining of the action movie going on under the surface of Big Trouble in Little China. Jack Burton is not the leading character in the story - Wang is. Jack is the comic relief.
 
Every time a fight breaks out, Jack bungles his side, and blusters to cover up for his incompetence. The fight in the warehouse, where they are looking for Wang's girlfriend, sees him finish off half a dozen bad guys while Jack scrabbles around on the floor, looking for his knife. In the big rumble at the end, the first thing Jack does in knock himself unconscious and spend several minutes out cold while Wang engages Lo Pan in combat. He doesn't even get the girl.
 
Escape From LA I think is a very misunderstood film. Like BTILC, it's a parody of action films, mixed in with satire, and takes a familiar character from Carpenter's own back catalogue to explore and subvert the fictional world.
 
Consider the set-up: a Christian fundamentalist wins the 2000 presidential election, and consolidates his power through a massive cataclysm. His moral crusade results in the deportation to an off-shore prison those deemed undesirable, while the law becomes increasingly strict regarding what is "allowable" in the USA. "The United States is a non-smoking nation." Surely a terrifying prospect to a life-long smoker like Carpenter.
 
Ultimately, Plissken is forced to make a decision over whether to allow the US to crush the opposition, or allow an invading force, which is probably worse, to take over (It's clearly more than just a surface resemblance between Cuervo Jones and Che Guevara). Plissken decides that neither should win, and shuts down the Earth, wiping out 500 years of progress, but letting the world stay as free as possible.
 
Carpenter has a very strong anti-establishment record in his films, twice portraying the President of the USA as a snivelling coward, depicting the Church as deceitful and corrupt, governments as motivated by power, fear and self-interest, and capitalists as sub-human. It may not be surprising that he can't get films funded by studios, not with an attitude like that.


Thanks Jeremy for a truthful description of EFLA, which is a misunderstood film if there ever was one.  Once you grasp the idea that it's supposed to be a second rate knockoff of the first, most things fall into place.  It can be seen as a parody of EFNY, a satire on Hollywood action films, or politics, take your pick.  Most people just can't get into the campy feel of the film, so when Peter Fonda appears with his surfboards its no wonder the film takes a bashing.

EFLA is one of Carpenter's most interesting films.  It certainly isn't successful in every respect, but it warrants much more merit than it gets.  I love it for these reasons, but as a campy action film as well, a proper B movie, as are Vampires and Ghosts of Mars.  B movies are something that are never done correctly nowadays, and if the critical and financial reception of Carpenter's recent films are anything to go by its obvious that audiences have lost enthusiasm for the good old age of B.  Sad, really.


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(in reply to Jeremy Phillips)
Post #: 140
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 4/3/2006 4:33:20 PM   
Beat Royale

 

Posts: 19
Joined: 30/9/2005
Big Trouble in Little China is an all-time fave of mine, and there's nothing better than watching the music video for the title track, featuring John and his band The Coupe De Villes - sublime AND ridiculous.

Its a shame his output has been pretty shoddy over the last couple of decades - if any director deserves to have another great movie before they go off to the big film set in the sky, it's him. Pity he seems happy just to produce a bad remake of his earlier work. Although, has anyone seen his Masters of Horror entry - Cigarette Burns?

(in reply to NadaPlissken)
Post #: 141
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 4/3/2006 5:53:17 PM   
stuartbannerman


Posts: 1088
Joined: 30/9/2005
I am looking forward to the Cigarette Burns segment but will wait for the entire season to be released on DVD rather than shell out ££ for each episode.

I still maintain that John Carpenter hasnt changed the way he makes films. Its just that the mass audience has changed the way it watches them.

Its much like the computer game world.
20 years ago Manic Miner was amazing. Yet today we want nothing less than real life CGI graphics and wouldnt even entertain the same games we would have in past decades.

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Post #: 142
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 5/3/2006 1:05:35 AM   
Companero


Posts: 626
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: London Violenta, UK
quote:

ORIGINAL: Beat Royale

Big Trouble in Little China is an all-time fave of mine, and there's nothing better than watching the music video for the title track, featuring John and his band The Coupe De Villes - sublime AND ridiculous.



Did you know that Nick Castle (who played Michael Myers in the orginal Halloween) and frequent Carpenter calloborator Tommy Lee Wallace were also in the band? Another one of their songs can be heard on the radio in a car in Halloween.
 
I strongly disagree that Carpenter makes 'misunderstood' B pictures today. I believe he makes films that will appeal todays genre audiences and that his finger is no longer on the pulse, in terms of what they want. Vampires was mediocre at best - worth watching for James Woods alone. Nothing else about the film worked for me. Ghosts Of Mars is even worse - appart from some nice cinematography there's nothing about the film that I feel is of merit and the same applies to his Village Of The Damned remake, too.

(in reply to Beat Royale)
Post #: 143
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 5/3/2006 6:50:26 PM   
.:Seraphim:.

 

Posts: 146
Joined: 2/10/2005
quote:

ORIGINAL: stuartbannerman

I still maintain that John Carpenter hasnt changed the way he makes films. Its just that the mass audience has changed the way it watches them.

Its much like the computer game world.
20 years ago Manic Miner was amazing. Yet today we want nothing less than real life CGI graphics and wouldnt even entertain the same games we would have in past decades.


I disagree, many people prefer to play the original 'Counter Strike' over 'Counter Stirke: Source', despite its outdated graphics. This is because of the content, or the way the game is played; Carpenter still makes his films in the same way, but what he makes the films about really dominates the way the audience perceives them.

PS. John Carpenter is a genius, he gave William Shatner his first and last great movie role, without him even being in it, fantastic!


< Message edited by .:Seraphim:. -- 5/3/2006 6:57:49 PM >

(in reply to Companero)
Post #: 144
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 6/3/2006 2:24:30 PM   
manincrowd

 

Posts: 316
Joined: 21/11/2005
John Carpenter is a master filmmaker but has not been at his peek for 20 years.  While he has never truly made a bad film, his glory days of masterpiece after masterpiece are long behind him.  It would take one hell of a comeback for him to ever reach his former glory but with the right material there's no reason he couldn't make a horror as tense as The Thing or create another anti-hero as appealing as Snake Plissken.

(in reply to .:Seraphim:.)
Post #: 145
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 7/3/2006 3:44:23 AM   
homerbert

 

Posts: 54
Joined: 27/10/2005
Your point doesn't stand up in that no young people really play old computer games, but Halloween and The Thing at the very minimum are appreciated by every new generation of movie fans. You think all those DVDs are sellign to people who saw and loved them first time round?

Eoin

(in reply to stuartbannerman)
Post #: 146
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 7/3/2006 10:23:38 AM   
stuartbannerman


Posts: 1088
Joined: 30/9/2005
John Carpenter will have followers for decades to come. In the same way Roger Corman does.

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Post #: 147
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 7/3/2006 10:33:47 AM   
Companero


Posts: 626
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: London Violenta, UK
quote:

ORIGINAL: stuartbannerman

John Carpenter will have followers for decades to come. In the same way Roger Corman does.


True Ė People forget how good a director Roger Corman was before he started churning out pap from the late sixties onwards. Cormanís Edgar Allen Poe adaptations are brilliant and among the best genre films of their time. Anyone that disagrees should seek out Masque Of The Red Death Ė one of the most exquisitely-shot (by then DP Nicolas Roeg) horror films I have EVER seen.

(in reply to stuartbannerman)
Post #: 148
Summing it up for me - 7/3/2006 1:34:59 PM   
TheMadFatChickKiller


Posts: 320
Joined: 30/1/2006
It's obvious from this forum that there are hundreds, thousands even, of us who thank God John Carpenter was born. Try and think for a minute where cinema would be if he hadn't went into film-making? No Halloween = no blueprint for low-budget, high-concept, pant-wetting horror
No Assault... = no guerilla style, larger than life action flicks
No The Thing = Ray Harryhausen would still be in a job! (no offence, Ray)

Carpenter had his purple patch, and may with 'Cigarette Burns' have another, but I think his best is now behind him. He's not unique, a lot of other directors are only as good as the people they work with, for example, look what happened to J Lee Thompson. One minute you're directing 'Cape Fear' with Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum and Martin Balsam, the next? You're directing Death Wish 4 for Charles Bronson?? Same goes for George Roy Hill, and more recently, John MacNaughton, John Singleton and Anthony Waller. All disappeared off the radar into standard gun-for-hire fare, with barely a distinguishable note of auteur in any of their later works.

But Carpenter is still unique in that he still get's his name above the title of the film, whether that's a good thing or not, it is still admirable.

Uniquely for Carpenter's back catalogue in today's new-found popularity for remaking classic horror, his is the one that probably shouldn't be touched. Look at the 'Fog' remake? PG-13 scares?? A lack of anything resembling an original take on the story, not even a 'Dawn of the Dead' MTV makeover?

Like I said before, I don't think studio executives these days get John Carpenter , all they have is an idea that some audience demographic like that type of move. But unless you hire the man himself and give him the freedoms and resources that he had during his purple patch, you're never going to bottle that magic.

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Post #: 149
RE: Summing it up for me - 7/3/2006 1:50:47 PM   
stuartbannerman


Posts: 1088
Joined: 30/9/2005
I like to think that John Carpenter sits in his L.A home, paid for by the films he has made. And makes films because he knows theres a small percentage of people )mostly in Europe) that will pay to see them. Plus the fact he seems to truly love making movies. He doesnt make them as a business. He makes them because he loves the creation of them. This isnt a quote from him. But i like to think of John  Carpenter as a "i dont care if they make money, i just love making movies" sort of film maker. And more power to him for that.



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Post #: 150
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