Coming off of a big opening weekend with San Andreas, Dwayne Johnson is looking to add another starring role to his filmography. The Wrap is reporting that Johnson is currently in talks to star as Jack Burton in a remake of John Carpenter’s 1986 film Big Trouble in Little China. The script will be penned by X-Men: First Class writers Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz. As of today, no director has been attached to helm the project yet.
Originally starring Kurt Russell, Big Trouble in Little China opened to minimal success at the box office. The film has since gone on to gain cult status as a worthwhile addition to Carpenter’s celebrated filmography. Burton is described in the remake as “an All-American trucker who gets dragged into a centuries-old mystical battle in San Francisco’s Chinatown.” While this description is practically identical to the original, not much is known about the remake outside of this. It is also unknown as to where this leaves the long-in-development Escape From New York remake planned by 20th Century Fox.
Given the various remakes of other Carpenter films, this development is not entirely out of left field. In addition to the aforementioned remakes, other John Carpenter films that have been recently remade include Halloween, The Fog, and Assault on Precinct 13. None of the prior remakes grossed more than 100 million dollars and were each met with mixed to negative critical reception. When asked about remakes of his own films, Carpenter stated:
“I’m flattered if someone comes to me with the idea of remaking one of my films. Remake or original, making a movie still comes down to old-fashioned hard work. If it’s based on another film, well, so be it. Remakes have been part of cinema since its earliest days – think of ‘A Star Is Born,’ which was remade numerous times.”
Despite the lackluster collection of recent John Carpenter remakes, I see potential in this film. Johnson is one of the most charismatic stars of today and is no stranger to absurd action films. It will be interesting to see how much the remake deviates from the original with the Burton character. One of the most endearing elements about the original is the subversion of classic action tropes. Burton is not an unstoppable hero but rather a bumbling fool who takes a backseat to his sidekick. Much of the film’s humor comes from the blind luck that Burton is able to achieve success despite being out of his element.
I don’t have any doubt that Johnson can successfully handle the comedic side of Burton if need be. He’s definitely not lacking in the physicality department. With that said, a truly great remake is one that can stand on its own. I look at remakes like I look at cover songs; I don’t want to see the same film retold entirely. With today’s modern technology, we could see a whole new spin on the martial arts choreography or mystical elements of the original.
Are you excited for a remake of Big Trouble in Little China? Do you feel that a remake is entirely unnecessary or in need of a different star to be worthwhile? Let us know in the comments below.