Big Hit, The (1998) Review

"The Big Hit" Japanese DVD Cover

"The Big Hit" Japanese DVD Cover

Director: Kirk Wong
Writer: Ben Ramsey
Producer: Terence Chang, Wesley Snipes, John Woo
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Lou Diamond Phillips, Christina Applegate, Avery Brooks, Bokeem Woodbine, China Chow, Antonio Sabato Jr., Lainie Kazan, Elliott Gould, Sab Shimono, Robin Dunne, Lela Rochon, Danny Smith, Joshua Peace
Running Time: 91 min.

By Numskull

If I really hated this movie, I wouldn’t be able to resist the urge to call it “The Big Shit”. Fortunately I don’t hate it, so you need never fear hearing that too-easy-to-be-funny reference from me again.

In terms of crafting an enjoyable American debut film, Che-Kirk Wong succeeds where John Woo, Ringo Lam, Tsui Hark and Ronnie Yu all failed. The Big Hit is by no means perfect but it’s got a lot going for it. With a $10 million budget, it can’t be considered one of those “icky, little” movies that almost nobody sees (twits), but at the same time, that figure (low by Hollywood standards) eased the pressure to deliver a hyper-mega-super-blockbuster and made it easy for the film to turn a profit. Plus, John Woo and Terence Chang helped out behind the scenes, Mark Wahlberg makes a pretty likable killer-for-hire, and, most importantly, the script has a fantastic sense of humor. Consequently, there is no point in the entire movie where it even comes within 500 miles of taking itself too seriously.

A good thing, that; the basic plotline is somewhat less than epic. Kinda like a sitcom with guns. The kidnapping and betrayal, mercifully, take center stage most of the time, rather than the budding romance between kidnapper and kidnappee and the fact that kidnapper is banging two women at once (engaged to one, borrowing money from another).

The supporting cast is a mixed bag. First and foremost: Lou Diamond Phillips. This guy is quite good at being annoying. Whether that’s a pro or a con is up to the individual viewer. The big boss man (Avery Brooks) is also a highlight. Christina Applegate? Sorry, I just can’t shake the spectre of “Married…With Children” when I see her. Her parents are reasonably funny, though. The trace-busting guy who can never think of the right word to say tries too hard. He ain’t no good. And then there’s China Chow, making her…uh…”acting” debut. Seriously, I won’t say her performance totally sucks, but it’s painfully obvious that she was selected for the role just because of her looks. One day, by God, the aesthetically challenged will take Hollywood by force, and the streets will run red with the blood of models both super and regular…

One guy here really deserves a special mention: Danny Smith, who plays the snotty, zit-faced clerk at Big Top Video. The part is small but I’m convinced he was born to play it. His delivery is hilarious. With the right material, this guy could have a successful “niche” career, kinda like a geeky Jim Carrey (only much, MUCH funnier).

Danny reminds me of a guy named Dave that I used to know in high school.

I wonder what ol’ Dave is up to these days?

Guess I’ll never know.


There are a few well-done action scenes and some penis jokes. The DVD has deleted scenes, including one in which has Melvin’s girlfriend says “I suck your dick like I’m drowning and your balls are full of oxygen.” They shoulda left that in there. Excerpts from “Taste the Golden Spray” (fuck me, that’s funny) would have been nice, too.

I guess I’m done. This isn’t the kind of movie you can have really deep thoughts about. Just give it a rental, and quit bitching about American action movies in general. Sometimes you have to watch something just for fun, regardless of how dirty you feel for it afterwards.

Numskull’s Rating: 7/10

By Joe909

The Big Hit is one of those movies that makes me wish I could magically transport myself into the world of the film. Why? So I could beat the living shit out of Lou “Diamond” Philips. Damn, I hate this guy. And damn, I hate this movie. But back to the Diamond-bashing. The Big Hit isn’t that good to begin with, but Philips makes it even worse with his horrible, macho posturing, overuse of “hip” slang, and by generally just being a prick. I didn’t like most of the other characters, either. They all try to talk and act “hip,” but instead come off like a suburban high school drama club performing their rendition of “New Jack City.”

There’s only one good scene in this entire movie, and that’s the opening hit on the crook who peddles in slavery. It’s a pretty neat action setpiece, as Marky Mark takes on everyone with a pair of nitesite goggles and a bag of weapons. He even spins around on the floor and shoots people. But that’s it. That’s the only good scene. The opening credits sequence alone, which is no doubt the joy of gay men and pre-teen girls everywhere, in which we watch a nearly-nude Marky Mark work out on his gym bag, gives you an idea of what you’re in for: a bunch of MTV-style shit. All posturing, no substance. Even the music is absolutely horrendous. The Big Hit captures every essence of what makes bad Hong Kong movies bad: bland, stereotypical characters, “comedic” bits that aren’t funny, and a boring, frustrating subplot that adds nothing to the movie, and only serves to detract from it. By this I refer to Marky Mark’s fiancé and her annoying parents, whose bumbling fussiness only served to make me reach for the fast forward button.

I guess you could just take this movie as a fluff piece, but even then, it doesn’t cut it. Nothing makes any sense in the movie. For example, China Chow and Marky Mark bond as they prepare a kosher meal for those annoying, would-be in-laws. MM goes to kiss CC, but then she bashes him in the head. Marky ties her back up and deposits her back in the trunk of a car. However, mere minutes later, they’re together in a car, talking about how they want to be together forever. WTF? And what about when Marky’s car is run off the road and lands on a tree, threatening to plummet to the ground, far, far below? MM and China get out of the car: and the very next scene they’re in the middle of a forest! And just a second before getting knocked off the cliff, they seemed to be in a residential area! I can buy people flying through the air, like in Swordsman 2, but shit like this irks the hell out of me.

I know some people like this movie, but I’m not one of them. I can’t think of one good thing to say about it, other than Lou “Diamond” Philips’s character gets stabbed in the chest and dies.

Oh, and no offense to those who like the gifted Mr. Wahlberg. I myself think he’s a fine actor (when the material’s good); I just like to call him “Marky Mark,” so no one will ever forget who this man once was. The world might have moved on, but I still (unfortunately) remember his and the “Funky Bunch’s” butchering of “Good Vibrations.”

Joe909’s Rating: 3/10 (for the opening fight sequence alone)

By James H.

Once upon a time, a studio executive said, “Let’s make a funny action movie.” Millions of dollars were invested and a funny action movie was made, giving birth to what we all know and love; the action/comedy. Throughout the centuries many action comedies have been made. There have been some good ones and some bad ones. Fortunately, The Big Hit is one of the good ones.

Mark Wahlberg stars as a hit man with the unlikely name Melvin Smiley. He just wants to be liked. He also has co-dependency issues with his fiancé (Christina Applegate) and his girlfriend on the side (Lela Rochon). Wahlberg plays the character cool, and tongue firmly in cheek.

No matter how talented and likeable Wahlberg is with Melvin, the show is stolen by Lou Diamond Phillips in a brilliantly over-the-top role. He plays Cisco, one of Melvin’s partners, another contract killer. He has a plan to make some extra money on the side by kidnapping the daughter of a wealthy Japanese industrialist. Unfortunately, the wealthy industrialist has gone bankrupt after his film “Taste the Golden Spray” tanked. Here’s the hitch though, the daughter is also the goddaughter of Paris (Avery Brooks), Melvin and Cisco’s boss.

For the most part, the action takes a back seat, save the opening and the finale. The real focus is the comedy. The laughs in the film are genuine, and never forced. The film takes on several forms of humor too. There are several big laughs throughout, like the scene where Lou Diamond Phillips’ character tries to call the Japanese industrialist to inform him his daughter has been kidnapped. There are subtle small laughs too, like how the henchmen ride around in Dodge Caravans, or that it seems like King Kong Lives is everyone’s favorite movie. I loved, too, the little comment about suburbia’s look-a-like houses from Melvin’s neighbor (“Wrong house again, asshole!”).

The film was directed by Kirk Wong who also did the below average Organized Crime and Triad Bureau and the stellar Crime Story. Here he makes his North American debut, that shattered all of my expectations, giving the film a highly stylistic and electric feel to it. The action is very well done, edited expertly, and is very exciting.

The Big Hit is one of those fun, if somewhat predictable action comedies that will grab you and entertain you for 91 minutes and leave you with a smile on your face. It’s got style, action, great performances all around, and plenty of charm.

James H’s Rating: 9/10

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