Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Executive Decision (1996)
Breakdown after the trailers.
Here’s a bold claim for you: Scott Bakula is to television as Kurt Russell is to movies. That is to say, they’re both perennially pleasant leading men who can inhabit a decent range of roles. I’ll go out on a limb and say that Russell’s a bit more versatile than Bakula—case in point, he played both Snake Plissken in John Carpenter’s Escape from New York and the voice of the hound in Disney’s The Fox and the Hound in the same year (1981).
The thing I love about Big Trouble in Little China (also a John Carpenter joint) is that Kurt Russell’s character is actually the bumbling sidekick to Dennis Dun’s protagonist—Wang Chi’s desires and relationships are what drive the story through its crazy funhouse of Chinese mysticism, and the white dude is just along for the ride.
Ten years later, Russell played another unlikely hero in Executive Decision—he’s not a soldier or anything, just an intelligence analyst. I suspect the filmmakers were trying for a Hunt for Red October vibe, which didn’t quite work out. This isn’t what you’d call a “good” movie, but the parade of familiar faces who have done better work is pretty amusing: Steven Seagal shows up, Halle Berry helps save the day, David Suchet picks up a paycheck, and John Leguizamo plays what may be the straightest role of his career.
Kurt Russell is now 64 years old, and still getting good roles; his appearance in Furious 7 was brief but entertaining, and apparently he’s doing Westerns again? Whatever. He’s come a long way from The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.