Dwayne Johnson Needs To Give Up On Making This Movie
Dwayne Johnson wants to continue the saga of 1986's Big Trouble in Little China, and it's an idea that goes against what the original film is all about.
In movies like Skyscraper and Red Notice, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays a lot of characters who refuse to quit in the face of adversity and while that can be a wonderful quality in a person, in the case of his plans to make a new Big Trouble in Little China, I think it would be best for everyone if he were to steer clear. My objection has nothing to with liking or disliking Johnson as an actor, the quality of his other movies, or with the original film holding a sacred place in my personal cinematic pantheon. It’s simply that–regardless of what concept he and the folks at Seven Bucks Productions have for the Big Trouble revival–Johnson is absolutely the last person in the world who should play the hero of a Big Trouble story.
Why shouldn’t Dwayne Johnson lead Big Trouble in Little China? Because Dwayne Johnson is not just an action hero; he’s the action hero. If he’s jumping out of a helicopter he’s an action hero, if he’s bareknuckle brawling with bad guys he’s an action hero, and if he’s sitting on a park bench doing the New York Times crossword he’s an action hero. And the lead of a Big Trouble flick should never be an action hero.
Jack Burton Is No Action Hero, That’s The Point
If Dwayne Johnson thinks Kurt Russell‘s Jack Burton in 1986’s Big Trouble in Little China is an action hero, he’s missing the biggest joke in the entire film. Russell walks with a John Wayne swagger and more often than not impersonates the Duke’s voice. He’s got catchphrases and guns and his friends talk about him like he’s Luke Skywalker, but there’s no good guy character in the film less suited to the action hero business than Burton.
Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) could give the late Bruce Lee the fight of his life and even the elderly Egg Shen (Victor Wong) wields magic that kills demons. Just about any unnamed member of the heroic Chang Sing could give Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi a decent challenge. Meanwhile in the final climactic battle of the film, Jack Burton fires his gun in the air, is knocked out by chunks of ceiling dislodged by his own bullets, and is unconscious while the Chang Sing wipe out the Wing Kong, Wang Chi eviscerates Rain (Peter Kwong), and Egg Shen has his weird magic video game battle with Lo Pan (James Hong).
That’s exactly why Dwayne Johnson is the last person who should try to fill Kurt Russell’s shoes. The biggest gag in Big Trouble in Little China is Burton’s utter failure to be the action hero he pretends to be, and how could Johnson possibly replicate that? Dwayne Johnson is the size of a mountain and is in an average of 96 action movies per year; who’s going to believe he’s the guy who’s going to get stuck in the final fight trying and failing to get his knife out of his boot?
To be fair, if he makes his Big Trouble in Little China, Dwayne Johnson won’t be playing Jack Burton. Last year Johnson’s longtime financial and creative partner Hiram Garcia told Collider their Big Trouble isn’t a remake, but a continuation of the franchise like 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Regardless, leading a Big Trouble revival with the guy who’s been calling out Superman for the better part of a year doesn’t sound like a Big Trouble story.
A Big Trouble Revival Should Have Kurt Russell Or No One
You might argue that, unlike Dwayne Johnson, Kurt Russell is in his seventies and can’t play a believable action hero anymore; to which I would counter yeah, he didn’t do it then, he wasn’t even trying, and that was the joke. So the only difference between 1986 and now would be more gray hair and better special effects. Not to mention that if Harrison Ford gets to make Indiana Jones 5 just before he turns 80, I think Russell can manage to lose his truck one more time.
I will admit–I could be wrong. When speaking to Collider last August, Garcia said he and Dwayne Johnson had a “really fun idea” for the revival and since I have no inside information about the idea it could be that it would absolutely blow me away and obliterate my argument while sending me to the hell of being cut to pieces. But it’s difficult to imagine how making The Rock the hero of a Big Trouble flick wouldn’t run contrary to the spirit of the original.