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IN SHORT: Delicious and delightful down and dirty fun.
Politically correct film students the world over will roll in their still to be dug graves as they stumble out of The Big Hit, perhaps the closest thing to a perfect Hong Kong flick ever to come out of an American studio.
To be sure, by the textbook, it's a terrible Film. It's a terrific movie -- funny and rude and sexy and violent and everything big boys wish for in movies when they have to sit through three hour adaptations of Henry James novels that their girlfriends force them to see.
Just like any flick in the Hong Kong mold, the story behind The Big Hit is slight. The emphasis is on action, bullets and humor. You get a crew of international professional killers whose freelance activity backfires on 'em, when they kidnap the goddaughter of their boss, Paris (Avery Brooks). Paris places in charge of the investigation, and murderous revenge, Cisco (Lou Diamond Phillips), a backstabbing, exaggerating Latino BS artist who's the moron behind the kidnap in the first place. Cisco's only way to cover his ass is to off the crew, and lay the blame on his friend, Melvin (Mark Wahlberg), the proverbial nice guy who, usually, proverbially finishes last.
Melvin's problem is not that he's an ace hit man. It's that he just wants everyone to like him, and the list is a long one. Almost at the top is girlfriend Chanel (Lela Rochon) who demands cash payments for her mortgage and the Jaguar he's bought for her (so she can run off with her other boyfriend). Absolutely top of the list is the Jewish American Princess Pam (Christina Applegate), whose mother (Lainie Kazan) hates goyim, and whose father (Elliot Gould) is best described as a lump on a log. Not only has Melvin found himself unwittingly financing daddy's business, he's also promised to cook dinner.
There's a word for Melvin, and I can't print it here.
The morons in the rest of Cisco's crew include Gump (Robin Dunne), a white boy gangsta wannabe whose vocabulary of rap is approximately the square root of his double digit IQ; Crunch (Bokeem Woodbine), who has discovered after a solid decade of dating that his best friend is his right hand and Vince (Antonio Sabato Jr.), who shows up, blows up some mobsters, gets some phone numbers and disappears until the end of the flick. Just like in any Hong Kong flick, he's there only when need be.
The kidnap victim is the incredibly adorable, melt in your pants underager-in-a-private-school-uniform, Keiko (China Chow). The ransom price is a cool ten million dollars, which her industrialist dad doesn't have because he's lost his loot financing and directing and starring in a Hollywood big screen bomb called "Taste the Golden Spray".
Think about that title. Two. Three. Rimshot.
Lou Diamond Phillips deliberately and brilliantly overacts up the wazoo. Like almost every character in the film, this characterization pushes the stereotype envelope. The Big Hit loads itself with a lot of gunfire, car crashes, explosions, and incredibly funny visual gags. Cliché after cliché comes slinging off the screen; scenes from other action flicks are replicated (and sometimes bettered); scenes from romantic flicks like Ghost, are mercilessly parodied (here with a stuffed chicken and handcuffs). In it's own way, The Big Hit is as funny as, if not as silly as, a Zucker brothers movie.
I guess Hong Kong genre flicks are an acquired taste. Half the audience Cranky sat with walked out comparing The Big Hit to a stinking pile of something smelly that comes out of the nether regions of the buffed bods of the hit men who parade naked across the screen in a locker room scene early on.
The other half of the audience laughed hysterically and thanked director Wong for a good time as they walked out the theater door.
Of all the critic out there, I may be the only one, so feel free to hold it against me that. . .
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for The Big Hit, he would have paid . . .
You can easily dismiss The Big Hit as being tasteless, brutal, clichéd, sexist, stereotyped and overacted. All of which it is. But it is also incredibly funny. Christina Applegate nails the JAP dead on (and we're talking Cranky's gene pool here, so he knows it first hand). Danny Smith delivers a brilliant minor performance as every obnoxious and annoying video rental clerk you've ever met. Mark Wahlberg delivers another fine performance, without the help of prosthetics.
And Cranky sat there giggling for almost the entire 90 minutes. Which is a scary enough thought in and of itself.
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