Hollywood used to import movie stars from overseas. Then
directors. Then they remade foreign films. Now the studios import entire
genres. It's cheaper buying wholesale. “The Big Hit” is a Hong Kong action
comedy, directed by Che-Kirk Wong (“Crime Story”), starring an American cast
and written by Ben Ramsey, an American who has apparently done as much time in the
video stores as Quentin Tarantino.
The movie has the Hong Kong spirit right down to the deadpan
dialogue. Sample: Hit Man: “If you stay with me you have to understand I'm a
contract killer. I murder people for a living. Mostly bad people, but ... “ Girl
He Has Kidnapped: “I'm cool with that.” The characters in these movies exist in
a Twilight Zone where thousands of rounds of ammunition are fired, but no one
ever gets shot unless the plot requires him to. The bullets have read the
As the film opens, we meet four buddies working out in a health
club. They're played by Mark Wahlberg (of “Boogie Nights”), Lou Diamond
Phillips, Bokeem Woodbine and Antonio Sabato Jr. The guys are hunks with big
muscles, which we can study during a locker room scene where they stand around
bare-bottomed while discussing Woodbine's recent discovery of masturbation,
which he recommends as superior to intercourse, perhaps because it requires
only one consenting adult.
Then they dress for work. They're all garbed as utility workers,
with hard hats, toolboxes and wide leather belts holding wrenches and
flashlights. As they saunter down the street to Graeme Revell's pumping
soundtrack, they look like a downsized road company version of the Village
The plot: They attack the heavily defended high-rise stronghold
of a rich pimp who has just purchased three new girls for $50,000 a head. They
break in with guns blazing, and there's an extended action sequence ending with
one of the heroes diving out of an upper floor on a bungee cord, just ahead of
a shattering explosion. And so on.
They kidnap Keiko (China Chow), the daughter of a rich Japanese
executive. Complications ensue, and she ends up in the hands, and later the car
trunk, of the leader of the hit men, named Melvin Smiley (Wahlberg). This is
most likely the first movie in which the hero hit man is named Melvin Smiley.
But he does smile a lot, because his weakness is, “I can't stand the idea of
people who don't like me.” You would think a hit man would have a lot of people
walking around not liking him, but not if he is a good enough shot.
Keiko falls in love with Melvin with astonishing rapidity. Sure,
she tries to escape, but by the end she realizes her future lies with his. Will
this complicate Melvin's life? Not any more than it already is.
He has a black mistress (Lela Rochon), who looks at a
dismembered body in their bathtub and says, “He's kinda cute.” And he has a
Jewish fiancee (Christina Applegate), who is Jewish for the sole purpose of
having two Jewish parents (so they can appear in the middle of the movie like
refugees from a Woody Allen picture and provide crudely stereotyped
caricatures). Gould makes crass remarks about his wife's plastic surgery, gets
drunk and throws up on Lou Diamond Phillips, in a scene where both actors
appear to be using the powers of visualization to imagine themselves elsewhere.
Many more action scenes. Cars explode. Cars are shot at. Cars
land in trees. They fall out of trees. Remember those old serials where someone
got killed at the end of an installment, but at the beginning of the next
installment you see them leap quickly to safety? That trick is played three
times in this movie. Whenever anyone gets blowed up real good, you wait
serenely for the instant replay.
I guess you could laugh at this. You would have to be seriously
alienated from normal human values and be nursing a deep-seated anger against
movies that make you think even a little, but you could laugh.