Bullet Points: The Big Hit
In the real world a guy named Melvin Smiley would not be a hitman by trade.
In the real world a guy named Melvin Smiley would be lucky to have one girlfriend, let alone two.
But if Hollywood has taught me anything over the course of my life, it is that all things are possible in the movie world.
In the 1998 movie, The Big Hit, Mark Wahlberg plays Melvin Smiley. He is a hitman with two girlfriends. He also associates with some less than desirable characters.
- The Premise: In order to avoid meeting his fiancé’s parents and to help pay for his side piece’s car bill, Melvin agrees to partake in a kidnapping/ransom scheme with his “friends” Cisco (Lou Diamond Phillips) and Crunch (Bokeem Woodbine). Their kidnapping victim is Keiko Nishi, the daughter of a rich Japanese businessman. Things get complicated when chick magnet Melvin and Keiko fall in love. Things get even more complicated when the godfather of Keiko turns out to be Crunch and Cisco’s boss, Paris (Avery Brooks of Spenser: For Hire fame). When Paris orders Cisco to get the guys who kidnapped his goddaughter and deliver them to him, he (being a less than desirable character) throws ol’ Melvin Smiley under the bus in the interest of self-preservation.
- The Women: When you factor in Keiko, Melvin has three love interests in this movie. His fiancée, Pam Shulman, is played by Christina Applegate, who will always be Kelly Bundy to me. And his lady on the side, Chantel, is played by Lela Rochon. Lela would continue to earn her action stripes when she co-starred with Jean-Claude Van Damme in Knock Off. All these women going after Mark Wahlberg’s character? Maybe this is the real reason my Bulletproof Action colleague Chad Cruise hates Mark Wahlberg.
- The Show Stealer: The performance that stood out to me the most in this movie was Lou Diamond Phillips’ portrayal of Cisco. It wasn’t just that Lou Diamond Phillips was in a bad guy role (he was also a villain in Lone Hero) it was how “larger than life” his performance was. LDP took full advantage of The Big Hit being an action/comedy and really went over the top with his portrayal of Cisco. If this were a straight action film I think Cisco would have come across as weak, which you never want your villain to be. But in the context of The Big Hit, Cisco’s slime ball with style act is perfect. Cisco would sell out his mother if he had to and while that is a dastardly thing to do, the audience would still be entertained by him doing so, because of Cisco’s bravado. This was easily one of my favorite Lou Diamond Phillips performances.
- The Action: As I mentioned above, The Big Hit is an action/comedy. Keep that in mind as you watch and you don’t get the wall to wall action like you would in a lot of the movies we review on this site. Also, with the multiple love interests you also have a lot of romantic sub plots along the way. I would probably not recommend this movie to pure action junkies. But when there is action (most of it can be found at the beginning and end of the film) it is well done action.
Was The Big Hit a big hit with me? I wouldn’t go so far to say it was a big hit with me, more like a slightly above medium hit. It did have a good blend of action and comedy which is not always an easy combination to pull off. Mark Wahlberg was still pretty new to the acting world in 1998 (the film was actually shot in 1996 and it took two years to be released in North America) and this film was his first action film, but the producers wisely surrounded Mark with some quality supporting players. And while Wahlberg may have been overshadowed by Lou Diamond Phillips, he was still likable in his role… at least as likable as a guy who kills people for a living and is leading on two women at the same time, then falls in love with a third woman, who he helped kidnap, can be.
Finally, I know my bonus Bullet Points are always a big hit with our readers, so here we go…
- Also Starring: Antonio Sabato Jr. (You may remember him from High Voltage or The Base 2) is another one of Melvin’s compatriots named Vince. Vince helps Melvin with his assignment at the beginning of the movie, but then is not part of the whole kidnapping storyline since he has “a thing that weekend”. This seemed strange to me. My guess is Antonio may have only been available for limited dates and the producers figured a little Antonio Sabato Jr. is better than no Antonio Sabato Jr. Or maybe that is just how the Vince character was written. Perhaps I’ll see if writer Ben Ramsey is on Twitter and ask him.
- Favorite Death Scene: When Cisco is sandwiched between two cars (he was on top of a car that was on the ground you see, then another car fell off a cliff on top of him) it was a death fitting for such an over the top character. I guess I just spoiled the movie for those of you who haven’t seen it… or did I? #Swerve
- Product Placement: As you might imagine, carrying on with multiple women and carrying around the emotional weight of taking people’s lives for a living can take their toll on a man. This is why we see Melvin’s medicine cabinet filled with Maalox.
- Whackiest Character in Movie History: There is a good reason I say Bokeem Woodbine’s character Crunch may be the whackiest character in movie history. Crunch is whacking so much, if they ever made a sequel to The Big Hit he would have had to play a blind man in it. This is the second time in Bulletproof Action history that I’ve had a masturbation themed Bonus Bullet Point. The first was in my review of 10 to Midnight.
- Running Gag: There are a few running gags in The Big Hit, but one of the most prominent is the fact that Melvin has not returned his copy of the 1986 movie, King Kong Lives to the video store. Just any FYI… King Kong Lives starred Linda Hamilton of Terminator fame.