The Big Hit - * * *

The Big Hit is a ridiculous ultraviolent action spoof. It does not take itself seriously, and neither should you. It’s not the typical action-comedy, but once you get adjusted to its unique rhythms, it becomes a hilarious satire.

Melvin Smiley (Mark Wahlberg) is a really nice guy. He just wants people to like him. The trouble is, he’s a hitman. He’s good at what he does, but his job leaves him with ulcers. To show what a nice guy he is, he’s always giving money away. Two women are taking advantage of this human ATM: Melvin’s fiancee Pam (Christina Applegate), and his girlfriend Chantel (Lela Rochon). Melvin would break up with them…but he thinks they might not like him anymore if he did that.

Another person who takes advantage of Melvin’s generosity is Cisco (Lou Diamond Phillips). Melvin and Cisco both work as hitmen for Paris (Avery Brooks), but Melvin typically does all the work (Cisco just grabs the paychecks). When Cisco comes up with a money-making scheme, he knows just the guy to help him out: Melvin.

The two of them, along with Crunch (Bokeem Woodbine) and Gump (Robin Dunne), plan to kidnap Keiko Nishi (China Chow), the daughter of billionaire Jiro Nishi (Sab Shimono). But unforeseen complications ensue which will turn the kidnappers against one another.

If this sounds the slightest bit serious to you, ignore it. The film is a complete and absolute spoof. If you go in expecting a straightforward action pic (or even an action-comedy), you’ll be tremendously disappointed.

That’s not to say that there’s not any action in the film. Director Kirk Wong delivers several fine action pieces that, although played firmly tongue-in-cheek, are very thrilling. However, they are subservient to the comedy (rather than the other way around). People expecting a Hong Kong style action-fest are heading for a letdown.

The comedy in the film doesn’t aim very high. It’s just a step-or-two away from the Airplane style of parody. But there are plenty of funny moments, mostly character based. Crunch’s self-love affair, Cisco’s stereotypical boat dream, and Marvin’s video-store battles are still bringing me chuckles.

The film does have its failings. The characters of Pam’s parents (Elliott Gould and Lainie Kazan) aren’t nearly as funny as they try to be. And there are several moments when the dialogue in the film unintentionally crosses the boundary between bad-funny and bad-bad.

But, for the most part, The Big Hit is humorous when it counts. Again, I caution that you must be in the right frame of mind when seeing this film. But if you are, you should find it hilarious.

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