Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson continues to be one of Hollywood’s most successful and highly sought after action stars in his post-wrestling career. Earlier this Spring he returned to play Hobbs in the latest installment of the juggernaut Fast & Furious franchise, Furious 7; and he just struck some big box office gold with his latest starring role in the blockbuster disaster movie San Andreas. In addition to these massive films, Johnson is keeping his schedule loaded with his HBO original series Ballers (debuting later this month); lending his vocal talents to the Disney animated film Moana, playing Black Adam in his first DC Comics superhero movie, Shazam; and gearing up to star in a Guardians Of The Galaxy-esque sci-fi action/comedy called Alpha Squad Seven.
Now, Johnson is in talks to climb aboard the remake train and star in a John Carpenter cult classic from the 1980s – one that has a devoted following among martial arts movie fans, horror buffs, and fans of weird and wild action cinema of the decade of excess.
According to The Wrap, Johnson is currently in negotiations with 20th Century Fox to step into Kurt Russell’s role as Jack Burton in a remake of the 1986 cult classic sci-fi/martial arts film Big Trouble In Little China. A huge Big Trouble In Little China fan himself, Johnson and his producing partners Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia reportedly pitched the remake idea to the studio, which will feature a screenplay by X-Men: First Class writers Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz.
Originally released in the summer of 1986 (alongside Aliens and The Fly, among others), Big Trouble grossed only $11 million in theaters and quickly faded away, but thanks to the home video market – and a spot in rotation on HBO – the film gained new life and a passionate fan base. Big Trouble‘s ongoing popularity has spawned clothing, Funko Re-Action figures, midnight and “classic run” screenings in theaters, a new ongoing comic book series from BOOM! Studios (cowritten by John Carpenter), and even a parody video of “Gangnam Style,” re-titled “Lo-Pan Style,” of course.
If you’re unfamiliar with the flick, Kurt Russell plays Jack Burton, the mulleted, fast-talking driver of the Pork Chop Express (an 18-wheeler hauling pigs). A stop in San Francisco’s Chinatown sees his friend’s wife abducted by members of a street gang known as the Lords Of Death – errand boys for a larger and more powerful organization with ties to an ancient Chinese warrior sect. The heroes soon find themselves in the middle of a heated battle filled with mystical creatures – including their mysterious leader, Lo-Pan, an 11-foot tall Chinese sorcerer.
One of the film’s best features is the inversion of classic ’80s action tropes, transforming the traditional, unstoppable, ultra-macho hero into a bumbling fish-out-of-water who thinks he’s saved by anything more than dumb luck. John Carpenter said it best: “This is a movie about a guy who thinks he’s the Action Hero when he’s really the comic sidekick.”
There’s no doubt the comedic aspects of Big Trouble In Little China are what appeals to Dwayne Johnson and suits his set of talents, but it’s going to be a tremendous challenge for whoever steps in to direct the film; capturing the energy and the weirdness of the original won’t be easy. Not to mention balancing competent use of horror, mysticism, slapstick comedy, and a heavy dose of top-notch martial arts.
If anyone can channel Jack Burton’s bumbling braggadocio, it’s The Rock. It would be refreshing to see the musclebound Johnson get upstaged by a smaller, more acrobatic partner for once. Of course, today’s state-of-the-art CGI effects would add a new dimension of spectacle to lighting and thunder-wielding characters like “The Three Storms,” and with martial-arts choreography and stunt work in movies like The Raid, the fighting sequences between the Wing Kong and the Chang-Sings could be truly fast-paced and brutal.
And, since most of the film’s stars – Kim Catrall, Kurt Russell, and James Hong – are still around, perhaps they could make an appearance to satisfy long time Big Trouble fans? We’ll have to watch the progress on this remake closely and find out.
What are your thoughts about this recent news? You agree with the remake? How do you feel about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson being the star? Comment below.