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). 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.
It is the story of a Hitman with a Heart
. Only that heart is causing him much trouble.
Melvin "Mel" Smiley (Wahlberg) is a mild-mannered man and a ruthlessly efficient Professional 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.
This film provides examples of:
- 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.
- Asian Hooker Stereotype: Keiko's initial boyfriend is Caucasian. While attempting to rape her, the jerk quotes two phrases from Full Metal Jacket: "Me sucky-sucky" and "Me love you long time". By implication calling his "girlfriend" an Asian whore.
- Bald Black Leader Guy: Paris.
- Brick Joke: Crunch''s masturbation obsession. At various points in the movie, he's shown using two different kinds of grip-strengtheners, deciding between bottles of lotion, recommending masturbation to Melvin, going off to masturbate after getting off the phone, and at the end there's a poster of him as "Customer of the Year" in the Adult Video section of a video store.
- Briefcase Full of Money: Chantel keeps her money in one of these. When Melvin finds out, he finally realizes that she never paid those bills. And that she was using him... okay, using him more than she already obviously was.
- Catholic School Girls Rule: Keiko spends the entire film in 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 who is supposed to take Keiko and her boyfriend home. Said boyfriend uses the limo ride in an attempt to rape her. Melvin immediately ends said boyfriend's life with a bullet.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: At the beginning of the movie, Crunch claims to have only just discovered masturbation; he explains that he has been sleeping with women since he first entered puberty, and never had to resort to gratifying himself. However, he has recently discovered it, and has now decided that it's the best possible form of sex, something that comes up again and again during the film
- 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.
- Equal-Opportunity Evil: Lampshaded. Hitman Melvin (white Mark Wahlberg) is suspected of betraying his employer (black Avery Brooks), who sends Cisco (mixed-race Lou Diamond Phillips) and two gunmen (one black, one East Asian) to confront him at his house. The four have a tense standoff sitting at Melvin's kitchen table, when his girlfriend's drunk father (Elliot Gould), walks in and remarks how happy he is to see four young men of different races sitting together in friendship, in contrast to his wife's rejection of Melvin as a future son-in-law for not being Jewish.
- Exact Words: Keiko is ordered to read a written down ransom speech to be sent to her father. The speech happens to be riddled with typos, so she makes sure to read it exactly as written and emphasizing the misspelled words.
- 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.
- Professional Killer: Melvin, Cisco and various minor characters.
- 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.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The white slaver's last surviving Mook attempts this. Unfortunately he walks right into Melvin.
- 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.
- Take That: Keiko's first reaction upon seeing her assembled kidnappers (one black, one hispanic, two white) is ask if they're "the Spice Boys"
- 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]