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Big Trouble in Little China: The Video Game? Cult Classics in Need of Interactive Treatment

Big Trouble in Little China: The Video Game? Cult Classics in Need of Interactive Treatment” width=”560″/>

For every licensed video game produced as a cheap cash-in for a summer movie (G.I. Joe, Transformers 2), there are those few that perfectly marry the sensibilities of their source material with the fun of interactivity. We’ve discussed this before. What we haven’t discussed, however, are those movies that are overdue for a virtual adaptation — cult classics so good, so cool, so wacky that they perfectly lend themselves to the medium. Herewith, my top contenders:

Master of the Flying Guillotine (1975)
Rumored to be Quentin Tarantino’s favorite martial arts flick of all time, Master of the Flying Guillotine would work perfectly as a modern tournament fighting game along the lines of Street Fighter or Tekken. Every single character — from the One-Armed Boxer to the Muay Thai fighter to the blind Master of the Flying Guillotine himself — is imbued with such personality and such a drastically different fighting style that the thought of pitting them against one another in a virtual arena is all too perfect. Not to mention that roughly half the movie consists of a dozen consecutive fights between all these characters at a shady martial arts tournament — I mean, the movie’s structured like a video game already!

Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Yes, zombie video games are getting more than a little overdone, but true zombie fanatics still yearn for a game that replicates the tense, strategic feeling of barricading yourself in an enclosed environment and just trying to deal. We’ve had our 28 Days Later game in the form of the intense shoot-’em-up Left 4 Dead, and our Shaun of the Dead thanks to the comic gorefest that was Dead Rising. But we’re still holding out for that one game that can teach us the essential theme behind all of George Romero’s movies: When society breaks down and other people are all you have left, zombies are the least of your problems.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension! (1984)
This classic Peter Weller vehicle could be one of the greatest surrealist video games of all time. Chronicling the adventures of rock star/physicist/cowboy/martial artist Buckaroo Banzai, WD Richter’s directorial debut refused to adhere to one particular genre, be it comedy, action, scifi or musical. How insane would the game be if it adhered to the same genre-hopping philosophy? It’d be the licensed movie equivalent of a WarioWare game: Dozens of different types of gameplay lasting very short spans of time, somehow collectively forming a mosaic of nutty, insane, exhilarating fun. Set to bad ’80s music. Sign me up.

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
I’ll admit that when compiling this list, I had to restrict myself to only one John Carpenter movie. Damn near all of his earlier flicks (Assault on Precinct 13, Escape from New York, The Thing) would make fine games, but this would be the best. Combining old-school martial arts action with scfi weirdness and a modern fantasy aesthetic, BTiLC is one of those great litmus test flicks: If you show it to your friends and they don’t like it, they are no longer your friends. On top of that, it’s practically a video game already: Most of the movie takes place in a quasi-magical castle full of weird monsters and awesomely cool villains, and the hero is played by a beautifully arrogant Kurt Russell. If ever a movie could transfer its own zany, exciting tone into an equally thrilling and hilarious video game, Big Trouble in Little China would be it.

The Way of the Gun (2000)
To say that Christopher McQuarrie’s directorial debut is under-appreciated by the general public would be an understatement. And yet, there’s something undeniably alluring about the fact that, even with the movie’s explosively climactic finale, it’s one of the most low-key action movies of the early naughts. And in a video game landscape full of bullets that make people explode, who’s to say we couldn’t benefit from a little subtlety? Considering how unconventional Way of the Gun portrays its action (one scene consists of a surprisingly tense car “chase” scene where the cars move two miles an hour, and nobody fires their weapon), one can only wonder if the tension could translate to the controller. Sure, the game could potentially be dull, but it could just as potentially be friggin’ awesome.

But what do you think — are there any we missed? Let us know in the comments.


Anthony Burch is the features editor for and the co-writer and director of the video series Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’? He recently completed Runner, his first art game.

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