The Big Hit

The Big Hit, Hong Kong director Che-Kirk Wong's American debut, is the loud, fast, empty tale of four suspiciously handsome young men—good-hearted lug Mark Wahlberg, swaggering Lou Diamond Phillips, perpetually scowling Bokeem Woodbine, and hunky Antonio Sabato Jr.—who, when not trading lame wisecracks in fourth-generation ghetto-ese or sauntering about half-naked, work as contract killers for Avery Brooks. All goes well until Phillips disastrously decides to kidnap a plucky college student (China Chow) who, unbeknownst to either him or his criminal cohorts, is the goddaughter of his boss. Misunderstandings ensue, leading to countless explosions, artfully shot bloodbaths, a string of painful running gags, and an unforgettable final scene in which the artist formerly known as Marky Mark and the man who played Richie Valens square off in a fight to the death. While Wong injects comic-book panache into the film's derivative mixture of scatological humor and non-stop violence, he never even comes close to overcoming the film's nasty, shallow sense of contempt for itself, its characters, and its audience. The Big Hit doesn't so much stoop for laughs as much as it burrows deep into the ground in search of the cheapest laughs known to mankind. Most disturbing, in a film full of misanthropic touches, is The Big Hit's blatantly anti-Semitic main subplot involving Wahlberg's shallow Jewish American Princess fiancée (Christina Applegate); her grotesque, money-grubbing gargoyle of a mother (Lainie Kazan); her constipated, alcoholic father (Elliott Gould, in a role that calls on him to vomit frequently for comic effect); and their attempts to swindle money out of Wahlberg. The Big Hit goes beyond the call of duty in terms of hateful, crass exploitation.

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