[Movie Review] The Big Hit

The Big HitStarring: Lou Diamond Phillips, Mark Wahlberg, Christina Applegate, Bokeem Woodbine, Antonio Sabato Jr
Director: Kirk Wong
Genre: Action
Cert: 18
Released: 1998

Lou Diamond Phillips is Cisco, one of a team of four successful hitmen.

He is suave, cool, sophisticated but manipulative and greedy. When he tells his strapped-for-cash partner Melvin Smiley (Wahlberg) that he is planning to kidnap the daughter of a rich Japanese business man, Smiley, against his better judgment, asks to get involved.

Unknown to both men, not only is the businessman broke but the young girl turns out to be their bosses goddaughter. With the pressure on, Cisco pins it on Smiley and a contract is put on his life.

It’s the last thing nice guy Smiley needs. His jewish girlfriend (Applegate) and her visiting parents are driving him barmy, his bit on the side (Rechon) is extorting as much money as possible from him and the pimpled local video store clerk is bombarding Smiley with phone calls because he has had “King Kong Lives” out for 2 weeks. Things get worse when he finds himself falling for the kidnapped Keiko (China Chow).

“Chaotic” is probably the best way to describe “The Big Hit”. Well choreographed action sequences quickly establish that Cisco and Smiley are the main focus and are very opposite characters. Cisco is pretty unforgiving and shows no loyalty to his partners [he claims a ‘kill’ bonus that rightly should have been Smileys by insisting that he fired the fatal shots to the victim]. Smiley is clinical at his work, but troubled personally by love and money. We can tell that he is sorry that he has to do what he does, but tries to justify it by saying that most of his marks were ‘bad guys’.

The characterisation of both Cisco and Smiley is critical to the success of the storyline. You do care about Smiley. He is the epitome of ‘nice guys finish last’.

Things slow down unfortunately during some unnecessary sentimentality between Smiley and Keiko. It doesn’t last long, but it is still too much and affects the pacing of the movie. But the mixture of slick but overblown action, highly amusing comedy situations (Elliot Gould and the video store clerk’s scenes being cases in point), spoof and some mild tension works for me. Recommended.


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