The Big Hit (1998)

Directed by Che-Kirk Wong
Written by Ben Ramsey
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Lou Diamond Phillips, Avery Brooks, Christina Applegate, Bokeem Woodbine

My Advice: Wait and Rent It.

In a word: "John Woo's Grosse Pointe Blank."  Too simplistic?  Perhaps, but this is actually a very enjoyable film for the reason that it doesn't take itself very seriously, even when the bullets are flying.  Wahlberg is a hard-working hitman who is deadlier than E. coli on the job but goes home to Maalox moments with his fiancee (Applegate) and lady-on-the-side (Lela Rochon).  Wahlberg plays both sides of his character Marvin very well, the killer and the whipped homebody.  He wants everyone to like him, for pity's sake, and you end up liking him despite the fact he's a major weanie.  Phillips reminds me a lot of Tybalt from Romeo + Juliet if Leguizamo had decided to play him as a pimp.  Still he's hilarious as Wahlberg's partner/nemesis while Avery Brooks is nicely menacing as the Darkseid-voiced crime boss.  Applegate is Catholic Wahlberg's Jewish fiancee and Elliott Gould and Lainie Kazan have a small role as her parents, all three of them providing for some very funny moments with the eternally nice Wahlberg.  Woodbine is also quite amusing as Wahlberg's friend who keeps preaching the joys of masturbation, and how once you use it to replace a woman it saves you a lot of money.  The film is essentially an action/comedy, but it also tries for a touch of romance, and it's this touch that grinds the film's pacing to a halt while Wahlberg tries to work out his feelings for his lovely (and barely legal-looking) captive, played by newcomer China Chow.  Those scenes seem heavy-handed and a darkly twisted moment involving chicken sensuality tries for a laugh (at least I hope that's what it was doing) and fails.  A great watch and very funny, I've designated it as a rental simply because despite some gunplay and effects sequences, it won't lose anything on the small screen.

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