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The Big Hit is a 1998 action comedy, directed by Kirk Wong. The director was previously known for such films as (among others) Health Warning (1982) and Crime Story (1993). It is the story of a Hitman with a Heart. Only that heart is causing him much trouble. The main stars were Mark Wahlberg, Lou Diamond Phillips, and China Chow, with key roles played by Lela Rochon, Christina Applegate, Avery Brooks and Sab Shimono.
Melvin "Mel" Smiley (Wahlberg) is a mild-mannered man and a ruthlessly efficient Career Killer, but his good nature allows his co-workers to take advantage of him. They alternatively ask him of favors, like disposing corpses for them, or claim credit and bonuses for his hits. He still earns good money from his job, but Mel is actually spending most of it in maintaining two seperate residences and live-in partners. The first is Chantel (Rochon), his African-American girlfriend, who is fully aware of his line of work and keeps making financial demands on him. The other is Pam Shulman (Applegate), his Jewish-American fiancée, who is unaware of what he does for living, but still wants him to support both herself and her formerly well-to-do family.
Cisco (Phillips), fellow assassin and supposed friend, on the other hand, is not pleased with earning a few thousand dollars with every hit. He therefore orchestrates a plan to earn himself at least a million from one simple job: abducting college student Keiko Nishi (Chow), the only daughter of wealthy businessman Jiro Nishi (Shimono), for ransom. In desperate need for some cash, Melvin reluctantly joins Cisco in this plan. What they don't know is that Jiro invested much of his fortune in creating a big budget film and promoting it, but the film bombed at the box office, Jiro has just gone bankrupt and is contemplating Seppuku. Even worse, Keiko happens to be the favorite goddaughter of Paris (Brooks) who just happens to be the local Don and the current employer of Melvin and Cisco.
What develops is their attempts to both find the kidnappers (which they can't do), keep people from finding out they're the kidnappers, trying to get the ransom, and keep their lives intact. Throw in some Stockholm Syndrome, a dash of backstabbing, and a number of reveals as Mel's life starts to fall apart, and you've pretty much got the idea.
The film was a modest box office hit. It earned an estimated 27,007,143 dollars in the United States market, the 68th most successful film of its year. It more than covered its modest budget. It performed quite poorly with critics, however. Being full of bullets, explosions and wacky characters, the film was hardly considered a classic. Scott Weinberg summed it as "a whole lot of stupid comic-book-style fun", and others pointed out that Wong has spent much of his career in the Hong Kong film industry, making the film more of an attempt to transfer the "Hong Kong action movie to Hollywood". This has not prevented the film from getting an audience among fans of action flicks and over-the-top comedies.
This Film Provides Examples Of:
- A Date with Rosie Palms: At the beginning of the movie, Crunch doesn't even seem to know what masturbation is; he explains that he has been sleeping with women since he first entered puberty, and never had to resort to gratifying himself. One of the other characters explains it to him, and from that point on in the movie, he's shown using a grip-strengthener, deciding between bottles of lotion, and at the end there's a poster of him as "Customer of the Year" in the Adult Video section of a video store.
- Asshole Victim: The first guy we actually see Melvin kill is involved in a White Slavery ring. The second is a would-be rapist. He later explains to Keiko that most of his victims were "bad people". The rest were just obnoxious.
- Briefcase Full of Money: Chantel keeps her money in one of these. When Melvin finds out, he finaly realizes that she never payed those bills. And that she was using him.
- Career Killers: Melvin, Cisco and various minor characters.
- Catholic School Girls Rule: Keiko spends the entire film is her college uniform, which fits the typical depiction of a catholic school girl uniform.
- Cool Guns: Melvin's Weapon of Choice is a Beretta 93R, a machine pistol. Obviously for More Dakka reasons.
- Date Rape Averted: Melvin's way of kidnapping Keiko is replacing the limo driver which is supposed to take Keiko and her boyfriend home. Said boyfriend uses the limo ride in attempt to rape her. Melvin immediately ends said boyfriend's life with a bullet.
- Distressed Damsel: Three unnamed teenaged girls, abducted by the white slavery ring. While Melvin takes out most people within the room, he makes sure that these three are unharmed, effectively rescuing them.
- The Don: Paris is African-American but otherwise plays this straight.
- Gold Digger: Chantel more or less sees Melvin as a wallet. Pam is a bit more subtle, but apparently not that different.
- Hitman with a Heart: Mark has no problem executing targets. But has a soft spot for women, whether he personally knows them or not. He is also slavishly devoted to his love interests and eager to please his friends. His kindness is frequently abused.
- Lima Syndrome: Melvin develops protective feelings and then a romantic attraction to Keiko. The girl he helped kidnap.
- Me Love You Long Time: Name checked. Keiko's initial boyfriend is Caucasian. While attempting to rape her, the jerk quotes two phrases from Full Metal Jacket: "Me sucky-sucky" ... "Me love you long time". By implication calling his "girlfriend" an Asian whore.
- Sassy Black Woman: Chantel exemplifies the most negative qualities of the trope. She is unnecessarily mean, sarcastic, and condescendingly cynical.
- Scary Black Man: Paris when actually pissed off and holding a golf club.
- Seppuku: Jiro is actually seen chanting (presumably reciting his death poem) while taking a short sword to his belly. It is the phone call of the kidnappers which interrupts the ceremony.
- Sexy Walk: The first look the viewer gets of Chantel is of her feet in high heels. Then a close up to her legs as she walks up the stairs. The first scene of Pam starts at her head. But soon focuses on her legs and feet. As she wiggles her ass towards Melvin.
- Socially Awkward Hero: Melvin has no problem gunning down rooms of armed mooks but is driven to distraction trying to entertain his in-laws.
- Stepford Suburbia: Both of Melvin's residences are in suburbia, with sunny lanes and pastel color schemes. However, his neighbor is a jerk and Melvin has his own skeleton in the closet. More accurately, body parts waiting to be disposed of.
- Wall of Weapons: Melvin keeps one, as revealed at the beginning of the film. It gains in significance later on.
- With Friends Like These...: Cisco is supposedly Melvin's friend. Yet, he frequently makes fun of him, takes credit for Mel's hits and doesn't think twice about betraying him. Melvin himself seems more annoyed with his "friend" than being particularly friendly with him.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Melvin himself. At some point, Mel confronts Chantel over her betrayal. She fully expects to be killed or at least beaten. He simply tells her "You should be ashamed of yourself", then walks away. This is his harshest reaction to a woman in the entire film.
- You Can't Handle the Parody:
Melvin: The truth?
Cisco: Yeah, I want the truth.
Crunch: You can't handle the truth!
Everyone just kind of looks at him