BRAT’s review published on Letterboxd:
hm ... i get that carpenter’s intention is to poke fun at stale tropes about east asian mysticism and damsels in distress, but it feels more imitative than subversive. i’m also very very very wary of when a plot revolves around rescuing a woman who spends most of her screen time unconscious (even though Tenet came out 35+ years later i will still call it the Tenet Effect).
“John Carpenter envisioned the film as an inverse of traditional scenarios in action films with a Caucasian protagonist helped by a minority sidekick. Jack Burton, despite his bravado, is constantly portrayed as rather bumbling; in one fight sequence he even knocks himself unconscious before the fight begins. Wang Chi, on the other hand, is constantly portrayed as highly skilled and competent... On a commentary track for the DVD release, Carpenter said the film is really about a sidekick (Burton) who thinks he is a leading man.”
not sure if this comes across very well, john! at the end of the day, no matter their character traits, jack is still the white protagonist helped by a minority sidekick, which doesn’t have to be a bad thing. this dynamic isn’t always inherently wrong (though it should lend itself to critique); i just think he’s giving himself a liiiiittle too much credit for what he’s done here, lol. bumbling around doesn’t automatically demote you from hero to sidekick — look at mermaid man and barnacle boy, krusty the clown and sideshow mel, zapp brannigan and kif ... all pillars of the buffoonish star/long suffering sidekick community, and also my close personal friends.
ok, i’ve already written too much, but i have one last thing to say: sometimes i see people on twitter lamenting about how annoying it is when letterboxd users watch older movies and unfairly lambast them for being ~problematic~. i hope that’s not what i come across as doing here? my goal is to examine these films through a fresh lens, while still keeping the context of 80s culture in mind. my critiquing this fun little action flick isn’t meant to take away your enjoyment of it, nor is it meant to imply that the movie is irredeemably racist and should be cancelled/boycotted/set on fire. i am just here to have fun and share my thoughts online :)