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Lo-Pan

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Magic. The darkest Magic.
~ Lo-Pan
There have been others, to be sure. There are always others. But you know, Mr. Burton, the difficulties between men and women. How seldom it works out? Yet we all keep trying, like fools.
~ Lo Pan to Jack Burton.

Lo Pan, sometimes written as Lo-Pan, is the main antagonist in the 1986 action/comedy film Big Trouble in Little China. He is an evil sorcerer who just wants to have flesh again in order to rule the universe. Lo Pan has a legion of followers who will die to protect him and three skilled martial artists with supernatural and elemental powers at his side, trio named Thunder, Lightning and Rain whom together known as The Storms.

He was portrayed by veteran actor James Hong.

History

Background

Centuries ago, Lo Pan, a great warrior, but most of all a powerful wizard, was defeated in battle by the first sovereign emperor Qin Shi Huang. The Emperor placed upon Lo Pan the curse of No Flesh. Although Lo Pan can be temporarily granted a decrepit body by supplication to the gods, in order for him to permanently break the curse and regain his human form, he must marry a woman with green eyes. This simple act will appease Ching Dai, the God of the East. But to satisfy the Emperor, he must sacrifice her.

As he describes his curse, Ching Dai has promised him that if he finds a very special girl with green eyes he is able to transcend his weakened mortal form and ascend to a greater existence and rule the world. For centuries, Lo Pan searched for a woman with green eyes, and although he did find some, clearly none of them were suitable for him.

Lo Pan, under a modern alias "David Lo Pan", disguised himself not only as a crippled old man in a wheel chair, but also as head of a trading company called the Wing Kong Exchange, employing an army of soldiers to do his bidding.

Miao Yin and the Storms

Street gang, the Lords Of Death, kidnap a woman with green eyes named Miao Yin, the fiancée of Wang Chi, at an airport. Wang and his friend Jack Burton, a wily truck driver, search for Miao Yin in Chinatown. Turning onto a tiny alley with Jack's semi truck, Jack and Wang witness a funeral for Lem Lee, one of Lo Pan's enemies that Lo Pan ordered to be assassinated. The funeral is interrupted by the Lo Pan's soldiers, the Wing Kong, and an all-out brawl takes place between the Chang Sings and the Wing Kong. Lo Pan's assassins, Thunder, Lightning and Rain descend from the stormy sky and begin to slaughter everyone in the street fight. As Jack and Wang try to escape in their truck, they apparently run over Lo Pan. This is revealed to be a ghostly trick of the mind created by Lo Pan, who almost blinds Jack with powerful magic. Jack and Wang manage to escape. Back at Wang's restaurant Eddie and Wang look on as Uncle Chu and Egg Shen explain the nature of Lo Pan. The lawyer, Gracie Law, comes in and tells them that the Lords Of Death sold Miao to the White Tiger's brothel. Then Jack, in disguise, attempts to infiltrate the brothel but the Storms show up and kidnap Miao.

Wing Kong Exchange & David Lo Pan

Miao Yin is taken to the Wing Kong Exchange, and during their pursuit, Jack and Wang are captured and taken to Lo Pan who is under the guise of the crippled old man David Lo Pan. Lo Pan reveals his motives to them both before having them locked up, then later kidnaps Jack's friend Gracie Law, who also has green eyes. Lo Pan plans to marry both Gracie and Miao Yin, but then sacrifice Gracie to appease Ching Dai and live out his earthly pleasures with Miao Yin.

Interrupted Marriage and Body Restoration Ritual

Lo Pan begins his ceremony with his many followers gathered around him and his two brainwashed brides present at his side. As he goes to insert the Needle of Love into Miao Yin, his ritual is interrupted by the arrival of Jack, Wang and a wizard named Egg Shen, as well as an ancient society of warriors called the Chang Sing. A huge battle ensues in which Wang kills Rain during a sword fight and the Chang Sing defeat most of Lo Pan's followers.

Defeat

As Lo Pan and Thunder take Miao Yin to the sorcerer's private headquarters, Jack and Gracie follow them and confront Lo Pan in a corridor. Wang appears and distracts Thunder, allowing Jack to throw his knife at Lo Pan. He unfortunately misses and Lo Pan picks it up, admiring it for a second. He then throws the knife back at Jack who immediately catches it and hurls it straight into Lo Pan's forehead, killing him.

Thunder later returns and sees his master dead on the floor. The sight proves to be too much for him and in his anger, his body inflates to an enormous size before exploding. Later, Egg Shen manages to kill Lo Pan's final assassin, Lightning, by dropping a Buddha statue on his head.

Aftermath

Though Lo-Pan remained dead, the comic series which served as sequel for the film revealed that at one point in his life, he has turned a yeti-like demon into one of his servants via dark magic bond, in which the demon itself is the same creature that snuck into Jack's truck by the end of the film. The demon is seemingly tried to kill Jack to avenge its master, but when Jack taunt it to fighting it, it unexpectedly behave friendly to him, much to Jack's confusion. Jack later learned that because he murdered Lo Pan, he unknowingly inherited the dark magic bond that Lo Pan put on the beast, resulting it switch its allegiance to Jack

References to Chinese mysticism

Some of the Chinese mythology in the film is based on actual history. Lo Pan is a famous legend in Chinese history. He was a "shadow emperor" appointed by the First Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Lo Pan was put on the throne as an impersonator because the Emperor was afraid of being assassinated. However, Lo Pan tried to take over and was cursed by the Emperor to exist without flesh for 2,000 years until he could marry a girl with green eyes.

Powers and Abilities

Lo Pan is a dark sorcerer with immense powers that not something to be toyed with, as noted by Uncle Chu and Egg Shen.

  • Longevity: Uncle Chu mentioned that Lo Pan has spirit-medium powers that bestowing him longevity, enable him survive to modern era whilst enduring curse of No Flesh.
  • Intangiability: As result of curse of No Flesh, Lo Pan has reduced into non-corporeal entity that can pass through anything. In order to become corporeal again, he must perform supplication to the gods albeit the gained decrepit body would destroyed after certain amount of time, revert him into non-corporeal being once again. The curse of No Flesh eventually broken and he finally become mortal once again, which unfortunately made him suspectible with anything that kill normal humans.
  • Light Manipulation: Lo Pan can emit bright light from his mouth and eyes that would induce temporal blindness.
  • Unlimited Demon Control: Lo Pan can put demons under his control via dark magic bond that he put on them. The catch is, should he eventually killed after put some demons under his control, the killer would inherit the dark magic bond between him and his demons, resulting demons switch their allegiance to their master's killer until the others took the dark magic bond by killed him. This was revealed in the comic book series where after murdered Lo Pan, Jack now facing another trouble where he inherited Lo Pan's dark magic bond that made Lo Pan's yeti-like demon showed up and offered its servtitude to him.
  • Hypnosis: Lo Pan had demonstrated the power to actually hypnotize people, putting them into any time period he desired. He used this to hypnotize his brides Miao Yin and Gracie so the marriage went smoothly.
  • Mystical Beam Emission: Like Egg Shen, Lo Pan can project a destructive mystical beam that can virtually destroyed anything it hits. Interestingly, during the beam struggle between Egg Shen and Lo Pan, their respective beams would manifests into two swordsmen that would fight against each other where should one of them overpowering another, the said swordsman's beam can passed through the opponent beam and destroyed him. Unfortunately, this was merely theorized as during the said beam struggle, Lo Pan and Egg Shen's powers were even, resulting their beam simply explodes without struck any of them.

In popular culture

  • In the 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episode "A Chinatown Ghost Story" (S2E23), the villainous ghost of a sorcerer named Ho Chan is featured and he is evidently based on Lo Pan. He is also performed by James Hong.
  • Lo Pan's character is also the inspiration of the Mortal Kombat villain Shang Tsung, whereas his assistants become inspiration of both archetype of electrokinetic straw hat–wearing monk and Raiden, whom happened to be one of Shang Tsung's nemesis.

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