THE BIG HIT
"Marky Mark" Wahlberg, who was convicted of several minor felonies
before joining the "New Kids on the Block" pop group and making
it big, can probably identify with his role of Melvin Smiley, the "nice
guy" member of a team of high-tech killers. Working for a wealthy black
man named Paris (Avery Brooks of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), the
gang seems to be headed by Cisco (Lou Diamond Phillips), a wild-eyed opportunist
who bitterly regrets the fact that he is not black. And money is definitely
no object when they go on a job, with every state-of-the-art weapon available.
Trying to be "nice" to both his girlfriend Chantel (Lela Rochon)
and his fiancée Pam (Christina Applegate), both of whom treat him
terribly, Melvin wants to quit his part-time killer job and go straight.
Pam doesn't know about his profession, but he owes money to Chantel, and
so he must participate in one more scheme, a high-stakes kidnapping. The
victim is Keiko Nishi (China Chow), the daughter of Japanese tycoon Jiro
Nishi (Sab Shimono). The plan was thought up by loose cannon Cisco, and
not sanctioned by Paris, nor would it be, since Paris is Jiro's close friend
and Keiko's godfather. So when Paris finds out that his goddaughter has
been kidnapped, he's out for blood and orders Cisco to find the perpetrators
and proceed with "the big hit."
Lou Diamond Phillips has had a spotty career so far, punctuating a large
collection of mediocre movies with a few notables, such as La Bamba
(1987), Young Guns (1988), and, more recently, Courage Under Fire
(1996). His portrayal of Cisco is adequately over-the-top, but he is too
serious for this movie; his performance undermines the comedic elements.
This is one of those "it's so bad, it's good" movies, and could
be really funny if not for Phillips and Brooks playing it like a straight
"gangsta" thriller. On the other hand, at least he has some energy,
which is more than can be said for Wahlberg. He appears to be sleepwalking
here, barely able to make a spark with any of his three female counterparts.
One very brief performance that adds some needed humor is the geeky video
store clerk played by Danny Smith, who constantly harasses Melvin over the
phone regarding a late return. Another attempt at humor that falls flat
is the appearance of Elliot Gould and Lainie Kazan as Pam's stereotypical
Jewish parents, who are horrified that their daughter is marrying a "goy."
Their presence is out of place, like a scene from Rhoda in the middle
of Dirty Harry.
Perhaps if Spike Lee had directed this film, it would have met the mark better, but as it is, it looks like either a confusion of styles or a difference of opinion between writer and director. **
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