THE BIG HIT (1998)

Not such a strange name if you're being played by Wesley Snipes, I guessMark Wahlberg plays the oddly named Melvin Smiley, a hitman who wants everyone to like him.  In trying to please the fiscal needs of his fiance and his mistress, he agrees to crazy co-worker Cisco's (Lou Diamond Phillips, being waaayyy over the top here) offer to help in the kidnapping of cutie schoolgirl China Chow.  Cisco pretty much fobs the care of the cutie off on Melvin at an inappropriate time as he's being visited by his fiance's parents.  Later, when it turns out that they've kidnapped the goddaughter of their crime lord boss, Cisco also tries to fob off the guilt.  Hijinks ensue, as do a variety of explosions, bullets and knives.

This is pretty atypical stuff for Director Kirk Wong, the HK director who was being hailed as the new John Woo in the later days of the Great HK Film Renaissance.  Known as the guy who made a gritty Jackie Chan film (the underseen and underappreciated Crime Story), Wong seems like an odd pick for this very coarse comedy that only has the slightest smattering of action.

And yet, I think The Big Hit works.  Like the Blaxploitation movies of old, The Big Hit will do anything it can to entertain, be it Sigh.  Schoolgirls.through shrill stereotypes (particularly the scary Jewish stereotypes of Melvin's girlfriend and her family), ridiculous characters (one of Melvin's co-workers has finally discovered the joys of mastrubation and is carrying on a torrid love affair with his right hand), or insane plot twists (Melvin can't resist returning his very overdue copy of King Kong Lives before escaping with the girl of his dreams).  Perhaps it's all my years learning the charms of dumb HK comedies, or perhaps it's that Marky Mark plays it all gentle and sweet, or perhaps it's that it's only in these type of everything-but-the-kitchen-sink movies that you get a seduction scene with a cutie in a Catholic schoolgirl skirt reciting facts about genetically engineered chickens while lying back on a kitchen counter.  It's very rare that my sexual fantasies are captured so exactly on film.

And if you get bored watching the film, you can try and figure out how much the movie script changed from its original inception when it was written for Wesley Snipes (which explains the very odd scene when Elliott Gould, as the scary Jewish father, describes red-haired Mark Wahlberg as coming up to him like "a very earnest Sidney Poitier in 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner'").

But, hey, I liked Tango & Cash, which seemed like the sort of movie Andy Lau and Jackie Cheung would have made, and I like a slew of other movies where things explode, guns go off and reality, from the very first, starts discreetly sneaking toward the exit.  I hope Kirk Wong gets a chance to make the sort of gritty ultra-realist flick he used to be known for, but I've seen a lot of HK director debuts in Hollywood that were a lot worse than The Big Hit.

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All written material on these pages is © 1999 by Jeff Lester. With the exception of non-profit distribution, all other rights are reserved.