Six Degrees of Schwarzenegger Podcast – Big Trouble in Little China Ep. 3


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Highlights from this section of BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA

  • All-out gang warfare
  • The introduction of The Three Storms
  • Lo Pan’s first appearance
  • The Porkchop Express left behind
  • A mountain of exposition from Uncle Chu, Eddie, and Gracie

Al Leong: Action Movie Icon

Last time, we told you about Jeff Imada and this time we’ll take a special look at Al Leong, another legendary stuntman and bit actor.  If you have any doubt about Leong’s status as 80’s action royalty, take a look at some of Leong’s credits from 1986-1989:

  • 1986 – BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA
  • 1987 – LETHAL WEAPON
  • 1988 – DIE HARD, ACTION JACKSON, THEY LIVE
  • 1989 – BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE

Al Leong’s character’s typically didn’t say much, often times not even having a name, but his incredibly distinctive look and on-screen presence always made him a standout.  

Before breaking into the movie business, Al Leong was working at a custom auto paint shop, where a friend recommended that he start doing grip work on movies.  He then moved on to choreographing stunts and ultimately appearing on camera doing stunts himself.

Of his experience working with John Carpenter on BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, Leong spoke in glowing terms.  In an interview, he said he liked working with Carpenter because he’s a “real person.”  Leong also spoke fondly of the rare experience of working with a primarily Asian cast and crew, and credited John Carpenter with giving so many people opportunities to work on that film.

BONUS: Perhaps the most memorable moment of Leong’s career was in DIE HARD when his character pilfered a Nestle Crunch bar while waiting for the S.W.A.T. team to assault the Nakatomi building.  When asked how that moment came about, Leong said that moment was not in the script and the idea came to him on the set.  When he asked director John McTiernan about it, and got the green light to create that iconic moment.

Watch this incredible reel of Al Leong’s best on-screen deaths:

 

The origins and influence of The Three Storms

Of all the villains in BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (and there are MANY – Lo Pan, the Lords of Death, the Wing Kong, warehouse security, and even monsters), the most memorable are arguably the Three Storms.  The Three Storms consist of Thunder, Rain, and Lightning – each of whom possess the power to control the natural element of the same name.

The first time we see the Storms, we know they’re some seriously formidable baddies.  They float down from the sky (Lightning riding a bolt of lightning) in flowing capes and huge straw hats.  Bullets harmlessly bounce off them before they lay waste to an entire gang of Chang Sing foot soldiers.

Chinese legend is full of many deities who control various aspects of nature, such as Lei Gong who, according to legend was a mortal man who was transformed into the God of Thunder with minions who control lightning and rain.  These Daoist gods served as inspiration for Lo Pan’s top enforcers, the Three Storms.  China’s tremendous wealth of history and legend also provided a foundation for much of the other fantastical elements in BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA.

Lightning of the Three Storms would later go on to provide inspiration for the character Raiden in the Mortal Kombat franchise of video games.  With his straw hat and lightning powers, the parallels between Raiden and Lightning are clear.  There is also rampant internet speculation that Lo Pan served as inspiration for Mortal Kombat’s Shang Tsung, the shape-shifting soul-eating sorcerer.  

 

Further reading: 12 rad facts about BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA

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