Big Trouble In Little China Character Analysis

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The characters of Jack Burton and Wang Chi in John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China (1986) provide a stark contrast to standardized Hollywood norms, which added a new chapter to the discussion of diversity in film. These characters invert the roles found in many Hollywood films with a white male hero and a dutiful sidekick of some exotic, often foreign, origin. While it can be argued that this inversion is too subtle, due to all of the screen time devoted to Burton, these characters can be admired as a step forward in the cinematic portrayal of minorities. Movies, and their source literature, in which a Caucasian male hero enters into a non-Eurocentric culture and saves the people of that culture from some threat are as old as Hollywood. Examples abound in literature and film, such as: King Solomon’s Mines (novel 1885 and several film adaptations), A Princess of Mars (novel 1912, film…show more content…
Critics will point out that the film does present some standard stereotypes, such as and Wang Chi’s martial arts prowess. Big Trouble in Little China’s status as a martial art film, and a comedy at that, should allow some measure of forgiveness for these potential flaws in light of the large context of its unique character interpetions. Even nearly 30 years after the film’s release depictions of minority heroes who are not secondary to their Caucasian counterparts are noticeably infrequent (Diversity Report 28-9). The characters of Wang Chi and Jack Burton are a small example of bucking this standard, in the words of Egg Shen, “…that’s how it always begins, very small” (Carpenter). Much like other changes for minority actors and the roles they are offered these small adjustments are stepping stones which will hopefully lead to a film industry where well-balanced minority heroes are no longer a

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