Three years ago came word that Dwayne Johnson wanted to both produce and star in a remake of John Carpenter’s iconic 1986 fantasy action-comedy “Big Trouble in Little China” – a proposition that made the original’s fans very nervous.
Things did not improve when Carpenter himself revealed he was only made aware of the project by the trade reports, saying he has no involvement in the new one which has “X-Men: First Class” scribes Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz penning the script.
Johnson has professed a love for the original, but seemed an odd choice to play Kurt Russell’s iconic role of Jack Burton, the all-American trucker who gets dragged into a centuries-old mystical battle in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
The film is tonally very delicate, the entire character of Jack Burton hinges on the fact he’s an idiot, a competent yet cavalier outsider who is always playing catch-up and his success is often thanks to dumb luck rather than any kind of exceptionalism.
It’s a welcome skewering of masculine action hero archetypes that Johnson himself has become known for in recent years. Even when Johnson mocks himself he does so lovingly and never betrays the self-seriousness that drives him – very different to the far more relaxed Russell who is more than happy to truly lampoon himself.
So it comes as a welcome surprise today when Hiram Garcia, president of production at Johnson’s Seven Bucks Productions and one of the producers on the film, tells Collider they’re not going the remake route:
“There’s a lot of things going on with [Big Trouble in Little China]. We are in the process of developing that, and let me tell you, the idea is not to actually remake Big Trouble in Little China. You can’t remake a classic like that, so what we’re planning to do is we’re going to continue the story. We’re going to continue the universe of Big Trouble in Little China.
Everything that happened in the original exists and is standalone and I think there’s only one person that could ever play Jack Burton, so Dwayne would never try and play that character. So we are just having a lot of fun. We’re actually in a really great space with the story that we’ve cracked. But yeah, no remake. It is a continuation, and we are deep into development on that as well, and I think you’ll start hearing some things about that probably soon.”
It’s a smart move, allowing for a film to be set in the same world without stepping on the iconic work by not just Russell but others such as James Hong as David Lo Pan. The film is still a while off either way with Johnson currently filming “Jungle Cruise,” then jumping onto “Hobbs & Shaw,” “Jumanji 3” and “Red Notice”.
The upcoming “Halloween” revival has not only original director John Carpenter’s blessing but also his active involvement to the point of him doing the film’s score. Don’t expect the same for the upcoming Dwayne Johnson-led “Big Trouble in Little China” remake however.
The 1986 fantasy action-comedy feature was a famously costly flop at the time, but in the years since it has become a beloved cult classic with plenty of critical re-evaluation and praise with Kurt Russell’s Jack Burton character’s dialogue and many other elements such as the memorable villain Lo Pan having become iconic.
In 2015, Johnson became attached to a new version of the film with producer Hiram Garcia confirming earlier this year it’s a sequel with Johnson playing a new character. Asked by CinemaBlend this week about his thoughts on the film, Carpenter was blunt as hell: “They want a movie with Dwayne Johnson. That’s what they want. So they just picked that title. They don’t give a s–t about me and my movie. That movie wasn’t a success.”
Johnson’s been linked for a while but the film hasn’t really set any production schedule or release dates at this point.