The Big Hit

1998, Movie, R, 93 mins


Hen-pecked hit man Melvin Smiley (Mark Wahlberg) is in an ever-tightening bind, juggling relationships with two grasping women (Lela Rochon, Christina Applegate), and letting his scheming colleagues walk all over him because he can't bear to have anyone think he's not a nice guy. He can't even talk back to the obnoxious nerd from the video store who's harassing him for the return of King Kong Lives. Melvin lets himself be talked into helping buddies Cisco (Lou Diamond Phillips) and Crunch (Bokeem Woodbine) — a cocky quisling and a compulsive onanist, respectively — pull off the kidnapping of a millionaire businessman's sexpot daughter (China Chow), only to see the caper turn into a full-blown disaster with the discovery that she's the goddaughter of their boss Paris (Avery Brooks), who's taking a very personal interest in getting her back. Quentin Tarantino isn't single-handedly responsible for everything wrong with movies today, but it's hard to imagine this frenetic, smart-ass crime comedy ever having been made without the success of PULP FICTION. On the plus side, the movie's parade of washboard abs and buns of steel is very comely: Wahlberg, Woodbine, Phillips and Antonio Sabato Jr., who appears briefly as another of Melvin's partners in crime, must be the most ripped and buffed killers ever committed to film. But for all the forced absurdity of the situations in which they find themselves, the bloody slapstick isn't very funny, and if you're not laughing, there's plenty of time to reflect on the ugliness of making light of cold-blooded murder. Director Che-Kirk Wong (making his U.S. debut under the guidance of John Woo and Terence Chang) is thoroughly competent, but the hyperactive Hong Kong action he stages is already commonplace in crime movies. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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