Six Degrees of Schwarzenegger Podcast – Big Trouble in Little China Ep. 5


Highlights from this section of BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA

  • Jack and Wang get captured
  • Lo Pan lays out his evil plan
  • Gracie, Margo and Eddie attempt a rescue and get captured themselves
  • Oodles of exposition

“Chinese have a lot of hells”

Anyone who has seen BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA a few times will recall that there are references to A LOT of different hells in the movie.  The only one we get to see in the movie is the hell of the upside-down sinners.  There are also verbal mentions of the hell of boiling oil, the hell of being cut to pieces, and the hell where people are skinned alive.  A lot of these lines are played tongue-in-cheek, but surprisingly these hells are based in actual Chinese lore.

The idea of different tiers of hell is certainly not unique to Chinese tradition – remember Dante’s 9 circles of hell? – but the Chinese have twice as many levels of hell that make up the Diyu, the Chinese realm of the dead.  All of the hells referenced in BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA have some basis in actual Chinese mythology thanks to painstaking research by the screenwriters.

Hell of boiling oil?  Yes, there’s a hell for that, and it’s reserved for sex offenders.  Hell where people are skinned alive or cut to pieces?  Sure, you’ll wind up here if you disturb the dead.  And last but not least, the hell of the upside down sinners?  You’ll land here if you cause discord among family members.

Some of the other interesting hells in Chinese mythology: if you torture animals in life, you’ll find yourself tortured by animals in a special hell in the afterlife.  If you waste food, demons will force-feed you hellfire.  And if you cheat at business of exploit legal loopholes, you can expect to be sawed in half in a special hell designed for that purpose.  If you want to see the full rundown of Chinese hells WITH ILLUSTRATIONS, check out this link.


The legendary James Hong

James Hong, still going strong at age 89, has 430 acting credits on IMDb, but first on the list of what he’s best known for is BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, where he plays the evil sorcerer Lo Pan.  Hong had already been a working actor for over 30 years by 1986, but no role in Hong’s lengthy career is more memorable than his turn as the villain in BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA.

James Hong was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and spent his early childhood in Hong Kong before returning to America at age 10.  He studied civil engineering at the University of Minnesota, and worked for years as a road engineer in Los Angeles County.  Hong caught the acting bug, and took part time acting work in his spare time.  Hong eventually quit his day job to pursue acting full-time.

Hong’s early work consisted primarily of television work and dubbing English voices for Asian films before he started being cast regularly in feature films.  Besides BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, Hong is best known for his roles in BLADE RUNNER, CHINATOWN, KUNG FU PANDA, and SEINFELD.  According to Deadline, James Hong has the most credits of any actor living or dead.

James Hong also seems to genuinely enjoy his celebrity status and interacting with his fans.  Hong was even a good enough sport to make a cameo in the hilarious “Lo Pan Style” Gangnam Style parody video.

Further reading: Is BTiLC the funnest movie ever made?