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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Big Hit

An Americanized spoof of a Hong Kong action movie

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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April 26, 1998 -- "The Big Hit" is an Americanized spoof of that old standard, the Hong Kong gangster action movie.

This genre has heavily influenced Quentin Tarantino, who has, in turn inspired numerous imitators with his cult classic films, "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction." That phenomena, in turn, led to the import of Hong Kong action director John Woo and others from Hong Kong such as the actor-director Jackie Chan, and actor Chow Yun-Fat.

The genre is noted for extreme violence, over-the-top acting, melodrama, incomprehensible plots and a preoccupation with gangster angst. Perhaps the best example of the genre is John Woo's "The Killer." Which leads us back to our current film, "The Big Hit." Knowing what you now know, it should come as no surprise that one of the executive producers of this film is John Woo, that some guy called Chi-Ho Lau is the stunt coordinator, that Sony is the studio behind the film and there are some Asian actors in it.

The story has to do with a crime caper gone sour, no surprise here. A wealthy executive, Jiro Nishi, (Sab Shimono) finds out his daughter, Keiko Nishi, (China Chow) has been kidnapped. He turns to his old friend, organized crime boss, Paris (Avery Brooks), for some help. Paris is Keiko's godfather.

Unbeknownst to Paris, one of his own men, Cisco, is the one responsible for the crime. Cisco, charged by Paris to find the girl and kill the kidnappers, decides to frame his friends for the crime and kill them before Paris finds out the truth.

One of Cisco's friends, Melvin Surley (Mark Wahlberg of "Boogie Nights") becomes the main fall guy for the crime. Much of the movie consists of Cisco chasing Surley and Keiko. There are some spectacular stunts, shootouts, explosions and car chases.

There are also numerous movie industry inside jokes. Surley is shown training on the same kind of device that Bruce Lee used to use in his movies. There's a "You can't handle the truth" joke from "A Few Good Men," and Paris, Cisco and Keiko are all names from Star Trek spinoff series on television. Avery Brooks plays a character called Captain Benjamin Cisco on the television series "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."

Despite all the killing, the overall tone of the movie is not serious. There is much less blood than is usual for this genre. Also gone is the melodrama, bad dubbing, terrible dialogue, and incomprehensible plots. All you have left is lots of action, a parody of gangster angst (Surley, a hit man, has an inferiority complex) and some jokes. It is a somewhat like "True Romance" in that regard.

There was an obvious attempt to give the characters some depth and to make them interesting, but it failed. All that is left are some fairly shallow characterizations. The film's strength is in its humor, stunts and action, but that isn't quite enough to make it a good film. It rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 1998 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)