The Big Hit
Tri-Star, 1998, 91 min.
Stars: China Chow ("Keiko Nishi"), Mark Wahlberg ("Melvin Smiley"), Lou Diamond Phillips ("Cisco"), Avery Brooks ("Paris")
Director: Kirk Wong
Producers: Terence Chang, Wesley Snipes and John Woo
Writer: Ben Ramsey
Cinematographer: Danny Nowak
Editors: Pietro Scaila and Robin Russell
Available on video (pan-and-scan) from Paramount
Go to the official The Big Hit site by clicking HERE
Check out the trailer for The Big Hit (9.6 meg Quicktime file) -- clip courtesy of Sony Pictures
Troubled hitman Melvin Smiley (Wahlberg) is in a money crunch from having to juggle both a fiancee and a mistress, so when his best buddy Cisco (Phillips) gives him the opportunity to get in on an "unauthorised kidnapping," Smiley joins up -- not knowing that the intended target is the goddaughter of their boss. Things go from bad to worse for Smiley when Cisco sells him out and he must try to stop the gang and protect the hostage he has now fallen in love with.
I'm not normally a fan of movies that try to combine comedy, action and romance since they usually end up being incoherent mush as the film can't balance all three genres. (At least US films; some Hong Kong directors have genre-mixing seemingly down to a science and it works very well.) Unfortunately, The Big Hit lived up to my (non)expecations. While it kicks off with a great action sequence, it quickly nosedives into bad stereotypes (Jews are money-hungry, Mexicans are back-stabbers, etc.), masturbation jokes and crappy, stale macho male posturing. I'm not against "edgy" comedy, but this drivel is so poorly-written, it makes films like Dumb and Dumber seem like Shakespeare. Later, after Norman and Keiko's romance gets going (using every cheesy cliche in the book) we gets some sappy romance thrown in as well. All of this progresses at a snail's pace. Just because an editor can make cool-looking transitions and jump cuts doesn't make him good. Despite its minimal length, there is a lot of "fat" in the film that could have been cut out or at least handled better.
The Big Hit kind of redeems itself near the end with a good shootout/chase sequence, but even this is marred by plot holes that, even when "explained" via flashback, seem more ridiculous than ever. The film isn't all bad, however. As stated before, the action sequences (what little there are) are staged well and some of the jokes (such as the nerdy video clerk who keeps hounding Norman) are pretty funny. If you're a huge HK film fan, you'll probably want to check this one out -- just don't expect too much. It's not nearly as good as some of Wong's other films such as Organized Crime and Triad Bureau. If this film were directed by Wong Jing (a Hong Kong director notorious for his manic genre-mixing), it might have come off better. But Kirk Wong's style is deeply rooted in presenting realism, and so when presented with basically cartoon characters, there wasn't much to work with -- or, in the end result, much to watch.
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