Big Trouble in Little China

Inciting Event: At the airport Jack and Wang wait for Wang’s fiancée, an immigrant from China with green eyes. The Lords of Death street gang kidnap Miao Yin, while Jack flirts with San Francisco local, Gracie Law. Jack and Wang fail in their efforts to stop the Lords of Death from getting away with Miao Yin.

First Plot Point: Jack and Wang head into the Lords of Death territory in Chinatown to look for Miao Yin and walk right into a gang battle between the Chang Sing (the good guys) and the Wing Kong (of whom Wang says “the Lords of Death are just errand boys for the Wing Kong”). In the midst of the battle, supernatural figures called “The Three Storms” (Rain, Thunder, and Lightning) appear and begin kicking butt with the Wing Kong. Then, Jack and Wang witness what can only be described as a ghost named Lo Pan and barely escape with their lives, losing Jack’s truck in the process. This plot point is where Jack has entered an upside-down world of Chinese myth where ghosts exist and people can shoot lightning from their hands. And he doesn’t believe any of it.

First Pinch Point: Based on Gracie’s inside knowledge of Chinatown, Miao Yin is being held at a brothel called “The White Tiger.” In an effort to rescue Miao Yin, Jack pretends to be a customer with particular tastes, specifically requesting a Chinese girl with green eyes. The mistress owner replies, “Chinese girls don’t come with green eyes.” Jack settles for questioning one of the prostitutes about the place. While talking, an earthquake shakes the building as the three Storms rip off the rooftop of the White Tiger and kidnap Miao Yin once again. Gracie suspects they’ve taken her to Lo Pan’s deadly headquarters, the Wing Kong Exchange. This pinch point reveals that these evil supernatural forces were specifically seeking out Miao Yin. Jack is still baffled by these supernatural forces but can’t deny he’s seen something.

Midpoint: A friend, Egg Shen, waits outside while Jack, Wang, Gracie and friends try to infiltrate the Wing Kong Exchange but are captured in the process. Lo Pan, in the form of an old man questions Jack and Wang about Miao Yin’s ancestry. Jack learns from Wang in a jail cell that Lo Pan was a legendary warrior and wizard who was defeated by the first emperor who imposed on him a curse of no flesh. And now he has to marry a Chinese girl with green eyes, Miao Yin, in order to escape that curse and take on permanent human form. It’s at this point that Jack is finally willing to understand his supernatural enemy.

Second Pinch Point: Jack and Wang help everyone escape back to Egg Shen’s bus and leave from the Wing Kong Exchange but lose Gracie to one of Lo Pan’s supernatural beasts in the process. Lo Pan realizes that while Gracie is a Caucasian with green eyes, her growing up in Chinatown technically makes her Chinese by the standards of the curse. He prepares to marry both Gracie and Miao Yin. He plans to kill Gracie after marriage to satisfy a before unknown requirement of the curse and live out his “earthly pleasures with Miao Yin.” All of this reminds us of what’s at stake.

Third Plot Point: Egg Shen agrees to help Jack and Wang launch an all-out supernatural assault on Lo Pan’s underground dominion at the Wing Kong Exchange. Together they travel through underground caverns to break in and commence the final battle. Jack drinks a magical elixir in preparation with the firm belief that it’s exactly what he needs before a battle with a supernatural enemy. No questions asked: he’s a believer.

Climax: Jack, Wang, and Egg Shen with his Chang Sing gang engage in a giant final battle with all of Lo Pan’s minions during Lo Pan’s wedding ceremony where he finally takes on human form. During the battle Wang kills Rain in a sword fight. Lo Pan escapes with Miao Yin. Together Jack and Gracie go after Lo Pan, narrowing the scope of the conflict to the protagonist and antagonist.

Climactic Moment: Jack and Lopan face off. Lopan throws a knife at Jack who catches it and immediately throws it back, killing the legendary sorcerer. He delivers the classic line from the beginning of the movie: “It’s all in the reflexes.”

Resolution: Thunder, in dishonor for not defending his master, inflates himself until he literally explodes. Egg Shen kills Lightning by dropping the statue of a Buddha on his head. Jack, Wang, Miao Yin, Gracie, and the gang escape with the help of Egg Shen, stealing back Jack’s truck in the process. Jack leaves a safer San Francisco Chinatown as a hero who now believes in the supernatural.

(Submitted by Jonathan McCary.)

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