Big Trouble in Little China appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Some of the usual 80s messiness appeared here, but the transfer usually looked good.
Sharpness was usually positive, as most of the movie came across as reasonably distinctive and concise. Wide shots occasionally looked a bit indistinct, but the flick was well defined for the majority of its running time. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement remained absent. Source flaws weren’t a concern. Grain remained within acceptable levels and only a few minor blemishes appeared.
Colors were generally good, as they usually looked reasonably dynamic and lively. However, they occasionally suffered from the vague murkiness that often affected Eighties flicks. Still, they were positive most of the time. Blacks seemed dark and tight, while shadows showed good clarity. The image had its minor ups and downs but was good enough for a “B“.
Though also a product of its era, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Big Trouble in Little China proved even more successful. The flick provided a broad soundfield, especially in the front channels. In fact, the information might’ve been a little too wide, as the elements could seem a bit too “speaker-specific”. Nonetheless, the track opened up well and usually blended in a positive way. The elements appeared in the appropriate spots and created a good sense of environment.
As for surround usage, the back speakers added some zing to the proceedings. We didn’t get a ton of information from the rear channels, but they were active enough to help the track. The action scenes boasted the most noticeable material; quieter sequences didn’t have a lot to do.
While not stellar, audio quality was good. Speech demonstrated nice clarity, and I noticed no edginess or other issues. Music seemed distinctive and fared best. Carpenter’s score showed real vivacity and range; it was the strongest aspect of the mix. Effects appeared accurate and fairly dynamic, though a little distortion occasionally affected elements like gunfire. This was a satisfying soundtrack for its age.
Plenty of extras fill out this set. We open with an audio commentary from director John Carpenter and actor Kurt Russell. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific piece. They discuss cast, characters and performances, stunts and effects, sets and locations, story and script areas, reshoots and alterations, influences, reactions to the film and its reception.
Prior Carpenter/Russell commentaries have been very good, and this one follows suit. They prove pretty chatty, as only a few minor lulls appear. They get into the movie well and also discuss related subjects from their career. Make no mistake: they can go off-topic at times. However, they don’t go onto useless tangents; instead, they give us details close enough to the subject at hand to make sure we remain interested. Okay, I could live without the discussion of what their kids were up to at the time, but otherwise, this is a very enjoyable piece.
Another audio track provides an isolated score. This presents Carpenter’s music in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 rendition. I’m not a big fan of movie scores, but this is a nice treat for those who enjoy them, especially given the lossless treatment.
Eight Deleted Scenes come from a mix of sources. Most show snippets from a workprint, while a few stem from a long video version of the film. “Lava” shows storyboards. We find “Airport/Chinatown” (5:47 workprint, 6:46 video), “The Dragon of the Black Pool” (2:37, 4:19), “The White Tiger” (2:14, 7:07), “Gracie’s Office” (3:31), “Thunder’s Tour” (1:34), “Beneath Chinatown” (2:16), “Lava Sequence” (1:14) and “Six Demon Bag” (11:48).
That sounds like a ton of cut footage, but in fact, most of the clips show the same sequences from the final film with minor additions. “Bag” consists of a mix of short trims, so it offers the highest percentage of cut footage; the others really just show the final scenes with small alterations. Fans will enjoy the variations, though.
We also locate an Extended Ending. It runs three minutes, five seconds and depicts Jack’s revenge on the punks from the airport. It’s reasonably interesting and might’ve been a good addition to the final film. We also get a short, superfluous coda for Jack that wouldn’t have been as positive.
Next comes a Vintage Featurette. In this seven-minute, 28-second piece, we hear from Carpenter, Russell, visual effects producer Richard Edlund, costume designer April Ferry and actors Dennis Dun, Kim Cattrall, and James Hong. The program throws out a few basics about the production. It stays pretty superficial and promotional, but it includes a smattering of decent notes.
A Music Video for the title song lasts three minutes, 28 seconds. Written by Carpenter and performed by the Coupe de Villes, the video mixes movie clips with some awkward performance footage. Carpenter is the main member of the Coupes, so he plays a prominent role in the video. It’s kind of interesting to see him get his McCartney on with his Hofner bass, but overall it’s a bad tune and a cheesy video.
We get notes from the visual effects producer with a Richard Edlund Interview. It fills 13 minutes, 25 seconds as two angle options appear. One lets you see Edlund accompanied by behind the scenes shots on the left side of the screen, while the other presents the images in a fullscreen manner. It’s nice to get the choice.
Whichever angle you select, you see production photos and hear Edlund as he discusses various effects used on the film. Edlund covers the material well. He goes through the elements in a concise manner and turns this into an effective program.
In the Behind the Scenes Gallery, we find 262 images. These combine movie photos, shots from the set, and publicity elements. Quite a lot of good pictures appear, but the interface frustrates because it presents them all as one big group. That means you have to go through the whole thing to find specific shots. In smaller batches, this would be okay, but the massive number of photos makes this set tough to navigate.
Finally, some ads finish the package. We get three trailers: two US, one Spanish. We also receive six TV Spots.
If you want good fantasy-related action/adventure, stick with Indiana Jones. Big Trouble in Little China aspires to fill the same territory but it never becomes anything memorable. Oddly anonymous, its 100 minutes pass without pain but also without any real excitement or drama. The Blu-ray offers pretty good picture and audio as well as a nice collection of supplements. Fans will be very happy with this fine Blu-ray release, but I can’t recommend the film to neophytes, as it seems likely to disappoint them.