Dwayne Johnson may be starring in an updated version of John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China, but it won't be a remake. Instead, Johnson's film will exist within the same universe, where the adventures of Kurt Russell's indelible hero Jack Burton will have still happened.
Big Trouble in Little China is an unapologetically '80s action-comedy that revolves around a truck driver named Jack Burton who finds himself in the throes of sex slavery, street gangs, and the mystical arts. With the help of his friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) and a woman named Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall), the trio journeys through a criminal underworld in order to save Wang's fiancée from an evil sorcerer named Lo Pan (James Hong). With unhinged, over-the-top action and special effects, Big Trouble in Little China is certainly one of Carpenter's campier movies, but it's earned a beloved reputation with cult status. Now, following Dwayne Johnson's announcement that he'll not only produce an updated version of the movie, but star in the lead role, it turns out that his version of Big Trouble in Little China won't be a remake after all.
Collider spoke with Hiram Garcia, president of production at Seven Bucks Productions (which was co-founded by Johnson), and learned that the new take on Big Trouble in Little China will explore new corners of Carpenter's bizarre universe. Though he never specifically states that the movie will be a direct sequel, he does explain that it will "continue the story" of the original. He also makes sure to add that even someone as charismatic as Johnson couldn't replace Russell as Jack Burton, insisting, "Dwayne would never try and play that character." As far as the plot of this expanded story goes, Garcia believes that they're in a "really great space with the story that we’ve cracked."
While this is certainly an interesting approach to take, it's been a common trend recently in Hollywood. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (which starred Johnson, incidentally) exists in the same universe as the original Jumanji, but can also double as a kind of soft reboot of the franchise. Movies like Halloween, Creed, and J.J. Abrams' Star Trek (which has all the makings of a remake, but manages to still exist within the original cinematic universe) also follow this structure.
As far as what sort of storyline a new Big Trouble in Little China might explore, the original movie did leave a vague jumping-off point. In the last shot of the movie, a strange creature that shows up in an earlier scene stows away on Jack's truck, as if to set up events for a sequel. That said, seeing as a sequel never came to be, it definitely left some doors open for Johnson and his creative team to explore.