Speaking with USA Today, Russell stated that he "probably won't be" in Johnson's follow-up to the original 1986 film, in which Russell played fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants anti-hero Jack Burton, a truck driver who gets mixed up with mysticism, ancient curses, sorcery and martial arts in the hidden world underneath San Francisco's Chinatown.
While he doesn't seem interested in reprising the role of Burton, Russell has nothing but nice things to say about his Fast and Furious franchise-mate Johnson: "He's just a really good guy. I like working with him and if he's going to do it, he and his crew will hopefully be able to come up with something that I guess makes the title work."
The producer of the sequel, Hiram Garcia, said last summer that Johnson himself has no intention of playing Burton. He added, "You can’t remake a classic like that, so what we’re planning to do is we’re going to continue the story," although it seems that Johnson and whoever else joins the cast will play all-new characters.
What Russell thinks that Johnson and company may struggle to achieve is capturing the same "very, very fresh" atmosphere and vibe that director John Carpenter caught with the original film, which tanked at the box office upon release but, like many of Carpenter's movies, has since become a cult classic that even spawned a comic book.
Echoing comments he made shortly after the project was first announced, Russell explained, "Nobody had ever done a leading man who didn't realize he wasn't the leading man. He behaves like the sidekick but doesn't know that. That hadn't been done and it was difficult for the studio to get around in terms of promoting it, too."
More Big Trouble in Little China (or whatever they end up calling it) is still deep in development so it might be some time before the always busy Johnson and a new director actually get the picture in front of cameras. Do you think it would be a nice tip of the hat to find even a cameo for Jack Burton in the movie, and if so, should Russell give the film his official blessing and do it?