The Big Hit

THE BIG HIT is a 1998 action-comedy with enough good qualities that I have a soft spot for it. Alot of the humor is too broad for me, but that’s okay. I saw it when it was in theaters, and returning to it 20 years later it’s interesting as a time capsule, a Polaroid of a specific moment in movie and pop culture history. It was a time when:

-New Kid On the Block brother, laughing stock rapper and underwear model Mark Wahlberg was suddenly a cool actor after having starred in BOOGIE NIGHTS the year before. This was his first movie released post-Dirk Diggler, but it had been shelved since 1996. At the time, most people still derisively called him Marky Mark. It’s so early in his career that he has a song on the end credits (“Don’t Sleep”).

-Hong Kong cinema had invaded Hollywood. John Woo had already done HARD TARGET, BROKEN ARROW and the Once a Thief tv show, Ringo Lam had done MAXIMUM RISK, Tsui Hark had done DOUBLE TEAM. Chow Yun Fat had starred in THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS, and Jet Li would soon be the villain in LETHAL WEAPON 4. So here we have Kirk Wong (director of CRIME STORY starring Jackie Chan) bringing a little bit of Hong Kong flair to the action in THE BIG HIT. Wahlberg practices on a kung fu dummy, and in his hidden weapons cache we see enough bladed weapons to stock a Shaw Brothers movie (plus a three-section-staff ala 8 DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER).

John Woo and Terence Change are producers (along with Wesley Snipes). Wang Chun-Kang (THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR) and Benny “The Jet” Urquidez (henchman in WHEELS ON MEALS and DRAGONS FOREVER) are fight coordinators, Lau Chi-Ho (THE KILLER, THE SWORDSMAN) is one of the stunt coordinators.

-The success of PULP FICTION had started a flood of movies about the funny and fun side of being a hitman. They wore ties and talked about trivial things (often movies and TV shows) and killed indiscriminately. It was a whole thing.

-Popular music was absolute garbage and could destroy any movie that it touched

Okay, the last one is an overstatement. My apologies to those who grew up with this soundtrack. But for most eras there is pop music I used to think was shit that has some kind of nostalgia factor to it. Fun Lovin’ Criminals and whatever pop punk ska band it is in this movie (possibly Save Ferris or The Mighty Dub Katz) seem to perform styles of music that I will never be able to consider dated in an endearing way. What white people did to ska is the strongest argument I know against cultural appropriation. Shame.

Anyway, the score by Graeme Revell hits a little too hard on the “you see, this is funny” vibe for my tastes, but I like it better than some of those songs. (In fairness, O.D.B. shows up on the closing credits and there’s a scene where a character is watching a Funkdoobiest video.)

But this is a great cast. Wahlberg (MC Hammer’s “2 Legit 2 Quit” video, PLANET OF THE APES) plays Melvin Smiley, high-achieving professional killer and co-dependent people-pleaser who works for Paris (Avery Brooks, 15 MINUTES) along with fellow killers Cisco (Lou Diamond Phillips, Michael Jackson’s “Liberian Girl” video), Crunch (Bokeem Woodbine, TLC’s “Waterfalls” video, PANTHER, THE ROCK, Blade: The Series, BLACK DYNAMITE, RIDDICK, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING) and Vince (Antonio Sabato Jr., Janet Jackson’s “Love Will Never Do [Without You]” video, HIGH VOLTAGE). They treat it like a normal working class job, complete with locker room and locker room talk.

Phillips almost steals the movie as the obnoxious and treacherous showboat who orchestrates a kidnapping and then tries to pin it on Melvin when it doesn’t go over well with the boss. There’s a pretty funny scene where he has to lead the other men to interrogate his own idiotic accomplice (Robin Dunne, CRUEL INTENTIONS 2), gets him to blame Melvin in front of them without giving him up, and then pretends to be near tears at the betrayal. I’ve never seen him so loud and physical and energetic, and it really works for him. I’m surprised it didn’t get him more roles like this.

But Woodbine is also very funny with his fearless dedication to the dumb joke that he just discovered masturbation and thinks about it 24-7. He continues to function as a character moving the plot along but in every scene he’s using increasingly elaborate hand exercisers, browsing his porn collection, arguing with a store clerk about his preferred lotion, etc.

Disguised as a limo driver, Melvin abducts Catholic college girl Keiko (China Chow, FRANKENFISH), daughter of a business man (Sab Shimono, BLIND DATE, THE SHADOW, WATERWORLD, SOUTHLAND TALES) who can’t pay the ransom because he blew all his money directing and starring in a flop movie called TASTE THE GOLDEN SPRAY. (I blame the title.) Keiko has no such quirky character details, but Chow’s charisma and intelligent presence give her a sense of reality that the other characters lack, despite her fast-acting Stockholm Syndrome that has her immediately interested in Melvin’s life and offering armchair psychological advice while tied up on the couch.

Melvin has to keep her at the house, hiding her from his fiancee Pam (Christina Applegate, Jessica Simpson’s “A Public Affair” video, JAWS OF SATAN, ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE SQUEAKQUEL), who he’s already keeping in the dark about his other girlfriend Chantel (Lela Rochon, THE METEOR MAN, KNOCK OFF, BROOKLYN’S FINEST, SUPREMACY). He actually wants to break it off with Chantel, but he’s afraid of making her not like him, completely unaware that she’s already scheming against him and spending her time laying in bed with her Tarzan-looking other boyfriend (David Usher, THE EXOTIC TIME MACHINE II: FORBIDDEN ENCOUNTERS) watching the KING KONG LIVES video that Melvin has out two weeks late from Big Top Video and can’t find.

By the way, I know values change over time, but shame on this movie’s anti-video store propaganda with nasally voiced nerd Danny Smith (THE THREE STOOGES) constantly calling to harass Melvin about his late video. And he’s just standing in the middle of the store doing it, it’s not like he’s going through a list of the different people with late movies. He just has it in for Melvin. An unfair portrayal. We took those places for granted.

But also hooray for this movie setting the action climax in a video store decorated largely with Troma posters (and THE BEAST, the 1988 Kevin Reynolds movie about mujahideen fighting a Soviet tank crew!?).

And I did think it was funny that the late KING KONG LIVES kept coming up throughout the movie. After a big action scene Melvin walks over to Chantel and her boyfriend and it seems like he’s going to shoot them, but he just wants to shame them for not planning to return the video. For some reason they have it in the car with them and he insists on taking it and returning it before fleeing town.

There’s a subplot about Melvin trying to win over Pam’s parents (Elliott Gould and Lainie Kazan), who disapprove of him because he’s not Jewish. Unfortunately his attempt to prepare them a traditional Jewish meal leads to sensual dual chicken-basting with his abductee. The GHOST pottery scene, but with meat and kidnapping.

This broad portrayal of Jewish living is likely offensive, but it all builds to a great joke: Gould drunkenly haranguing his wife’s judgment of Melvin and venerating him for his multi-cultural group of friends, unaware that they’re all pointing guns at each other under the table, moments away from a bloodbath.

A cartoonishly low respect for the sanctity of human life is established in the opening frames, when Vince hands Melvin a garbage bag full of the remains of some guy to put in the trunk of his car and stash until later. He tries hiding it in the shower, where he makes out with Chantel. She apparently sees the dead guy’s head and thinks he’s cute, asks who he is. Doesn’t really get grossed out until she accidentally steps in him. This isn’t treated as her being particularly ghoulish, it’s just the way shit works in this world. So it’s not inconsistent at the end when Keiko turns love interest even though at the beginning Melvin shot her sometime-boyfriend right in front of her. He was annoying and getting handsy but in the real world execution on the spot would be a little extreme for that.

It’s a comedy first and then a crime movie and then an action movie, but there are bits of action that stand out compared to other American movies of the time, mostly during the assassination/shootout at the beginning (not the titleistical big hit – the penultimate hit, I guess). There are two specific gags I love:

1. Melvin sets off bombs and jumps out a tall window with a bungee cord, but he mistimes it, causing himself to bounce back up into the flames as they spurt out the window. Unfortunately the effects look pretty terrible on Blu-Ray. But it’s a funny idea.

2. Instead of sliding down a banister Chow Yun Fat style, Melvin rolls down with one end of his body on the banister, the other on a handrail in the middle of the stairs, like a log rolling down a hill.

Some scenes are somewhat hampered by dated visual gimmicks like a night-vision thing. But I appreciate its willingness to send people flying across the room on wires when they get shot, or to have people strangle each other on the hood of a car dangling off the edge of a cliff. This is back when more of us agreed that realism was not a high priority in action.

There are many things that don’t work in this movie, but there’s one thing I think absolutely does: the joke of Melvin’s sincere sweetness. He’s always apologizing in the middle of shootouts, checking on the welfare of women in the hot tub of a guy they kill, etc. And he does it with the gentlest voice. This is his first comedic performance, and it’s a good one.

THE BIG HIT was also the first movie written by Ben Ramsey, who would go on to write/direct LOVE AND A BULLET (one of the first DTV action movies I enjoyed) and write the very unpopular (but I didn’t think it was that bad) DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION. More importantly he directed the best Michael Jai White vehicle so far, BLOOD AND BONE. This week, because it’s the sort of thing I do, I will be revisiting a couple of these.

This entry was posted on Monday, March 19th, 2018 at 11:32 am and is filed under Action, Comedy/Laffs, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

63 Responses to “The Big Hit”

  1. A definite favorite of mine!

    I got to meet LDP through work. He took my cigarettes and I told him he could only if he answers Big Hit questions for me. He gladly accepted.. He said it was the most fun he ever had making a movie, everyone loved it, and the director did not speak any English but was quite happy.

  2. The Undefeated Gaul

    March 19th, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Yes! An absolute favorite of mine, I used to watch this all the time back in the day. Haven’t seen it in a very long time so I don’t know how it holds up, but just thinking about it and remembering the classic bits makes me smile. The trace-buster-buster-buster bit, the well-timed outburst of “You can’t handle the truth!” and of course every bit of Lou Diamond Phillips’ glorious performance. That guy is legendary in this, and like Vern I just do not understand how it did not result in more comedic roles for him.

  3. The Undefeated Gaul

    March 19th, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    Just remembering LDP’s body language in a lot of this is making me laugh out loud, like when his boss is sending him out with a bunch of guys to get the kidnapper, and the way he’s standing there, reluctantly fake-urging everyone to hurry up and get in the vans. Small moment, but it really stuck with me. I need to watch this one again pronto

  4. I saw this one in theaters back in the day as well. It is fun, and If you watch it now it really does serve as a 90’s time capsule. The clothes, the music, the heavy Hong Kong cinema, and Tarintino influences are all very much of the time. It feels like a silly version of a Johnnie To/MilkyWay Image film from the late 90’s presented as a crowd pleaser aimed at the American market. It is the older, goofy American born cousin of FULLTIME KILLER.

  5. Yeah, I remember walking out of the theater thinking this movie would do for Lou Diamond Phillips what Pulp Fiction did for Travolta but that unfortunately did not come to pass.

  6. Oh wow, that was a blast from the past. I haven’t thought about this movie since it was in theaters but as soon as I saw the title of the review, I had a vivid memory of me and my friends laughing our asses off at the final payoff of the “Bokeem Jerks It A Lot” gag, where it’s revealed in the midst of a gunfight in a video store’s adult movie section that a giant poster of him is hung up indicating he is the “customer of the month”.

  7. And, to be fair, people still to this day derisively refer to Marky Mark as Marky Mark. Hell, I’m doin’ it right now!

  8. Recently I’ve been itching to pull this old favourite of mine out of the DVD shelf again. I guess my psychic abilities were striking again, sensing that a Vern review was coming up.

    Man, this takes me back to the time in the late 90s, when I spent lots of time hanging with my best friend in the basement, watching (and bootlegging) VHS tapes.

    I need to correct you about one thing: The Mighty Dub Katz are NOT a pop punk ska band, it’s actually another sample based dance music project by Norman Cook, the last thing he did before he became Fatboy Slim, but after he released an album as Pizzaman. (I also think at the same time he was a part of Freak Power, but I’m the only one here who cares anyway.)

  9. If memory serves me right, this was also the first R-rated action film, that I showed to my mother. I mentioned here a few times before that she was a bit on the squeamish side (and still is in terms of violence), but she was interested in it, because Kelly Bundy and Captain Sisko were in it. She didn’t really like the masturbation jokes, but all in all she enjoyed it.

  10. Woodbine kissing his hands is still hilarious to this day. This had one of the best trailers ever at the time. Was so psyched to see it but I don’t remember it ever making it to UK cinemas. I certainly want to rewatch it after your review Vern.

  11. I know there will always be people who call Mark Wahlberg “Marky Mark.” That’s how people are. But I bet not many people hear his name and think “from the Funky Bunch” before “guy from the Will Ferrell movies” or “guy from the TRANSFORMERS movies” or “movie star who has starred in many popular movies for about 20 years.” This was when him being a legit actor was fresh and novel, even exciting.

  12. Just rewatched the trailer. Still awesome.

  13. BTW, Wong’s follow up to this one was supposed to be an IRON FIST movie with Ray Park. Of course that never happened, but I was very excited about it. And in terms of “Hong Kong cinema invading Hollywood” we should also mention that one year earlier Stanley Tong (POLICE STORY 3, FIRST STRIKE, RUMBLE IN THE BRONX) gave his Hollywood debut with MR MAGOO!

    No, wait. We shouldn’t mention this. I’m sorry.

  14. CJ, I think almost every talented director from HK that was working I got the late 80s and early 90’s made the jump to Hollywood before or shortly after HK became part of mainland China at the start of this century.

  15. That pop punk stuff is having a bit of a revival in the UK at the moment, with a high profile compilation album topping one of the album charts. Tragically pop punk came along at a time when globalisation or whatever meant that UK teens were increasingly powerless to the charms of the latest US fad, so we went for this stuff much more than we ever did hair metal or grunge. Always hated this stuff and found it baffling that some of my friends were *still* into it a year or two ago, but I must admit I am starting to have a small amount of affection for it, not on an aural level because it still sounds awful to me and I certainly don’t choose to listen to it, but it’s probably the most recent thing which seems distinctively “of its time” and too goofy to imagine being a hit now.

    I do think that the primary “Ska” influence for some of these bands was more the UK 2-Tone scene of 79-82ish (The Specials, Madness, The Beat etc.), so you could perhaps call it cultural appropriation of cultural appropriation (though many of the 2 Tone Bands were mixed race and/or wrote songs addressing racial prejudice)

    As for THE BIG HIT, to be honest this one, THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS and THE CORRUPTOR all kind of blur into one for me, even though they weren’t really that similar. I’m pretty sure I liked this more than THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS. I’ll have to give it another look sometime.

  16. “Working in the late 80s and early 90s”

  17. I have a soft spot for THE REPLACEMENT KILLER. Had a small crush on Mira Sorvino as well.

  18. I never saw this, but I did watch both The Replacement Killers and Romeo Must Die in theaters. I also had a friend who was super into pop punk and ska in the 90s. I never got all that into either, but I did buy a few CDs and attended Warped Tour a couple of times. (Full disclosure: I own two Reel Big Fish albums and an embarrassing number of NOFX CDs packed away in boxes somewhere). That stuff really is only suitable for middle school, but it did get me into some second wave ska and Toots and the Maytals, so it wasn’t a complete loss.

  19. I don’t like any of Chow Yun-Fat’s Hollywood films. All of his films after his his HK exit in the late 90 are forgettable to bad American versions of his HK work until CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON in 2003.

  20. I have no beef with pop-punk or ska. Most of those bands suck but the format is sturdy enough that, even if you’re not great musicians, you can make some fun, catchy tunes if you have any facility with hooks or lyrics. I appreciate that these two forms were the last time rock music en masse was allowed to be silly. A sense of humor goes a long way with me.

  21. Anyone else have the misfortune of watching BULLETPROOF MONK?

  22. Felix, yeah it is a lame waste of Chow’s talents.

  23. If THE BIG HIT was a HK film with an HK cast Simon Yam would play LDP’s part.

  24. I watched this myself a little over a month ago, I really dug it, it’s true that it is such a 90s time capsule, I mean it’s almost everything that was 90s culture at that time rolled into one movie, the Tarantino style crime comedy, the Hong Kong style action, the clothes, the music and the cherry on top, the video store, which the King Kong Lives subplot is so hilariously random, why that movie? I don’t know but it works.

    And China Chow’s character is clearly referencing the whole Japanese schoolgirl motif, which is the one element of the movie that feels more like something from the 00s than the 90s.

    The same night I watched THE BIG HIT I also watched SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL which much to my surprise won me over in the end (it’s rough going at first but gets more entertaining as it goes on, Jason Patric is still a poor substitute for Keanu though), so after mainlining the 90s like that it was honestly hard to return to 2018.

    By the way though Vern, speaking of the soundtrack, you didn’t like the “she’s the one” song? I liked that enough to buy it on itunes afterward.

  25. I have to say that I’ve seen The Corruptor more times than anybody alive I assure you. I love it. Has a phenomenal car chase and Chow is pretty great.

  26. Going back to The Winchester’s comment at the top of the thread, it’s strange that LDP would recall Kirk Wong speaking very little English when he’s demonstrated his fluency quite well on the commentary tracks for this film and others. It’s like how one of the producers of MORTAL KOMBAT, while acknowledging Robin Shou grew up in America, claimed he did not speak English very well. Shou has a Civil Engineering degree from Cal State.

    I remember some good chuckles in TBH, I’ll have to dig it up again. It’s a little out of step with Wong’s other films, which are certainly stylish and violent but in a more grim and serious mode. Maybe my sample size isn’t large enough.

  27. I think Chow was trying to get out of the action hero roles at the time he started acting in American movies. And that’s why his best performance back then will always be in THE KING AND I. And Jodie Foster calling him the nicest man on earth didn’t excactly scream “the new Bruce Willis”.

  28. After checking out the tracklist of the soundtrack, I don’t think it would work as a time capsule for me. Maybe if I had lived in the US at that time. Nothing against the lovely 90sness of the movie itself, but I don’t know, but outside of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Mighty Dub Katz there is really nothing that makes me go “Oh shit, the 90s, man!”

    (Now the soundtrack for GO, another very 90s VHS favourite of mine on the other hand…
    https://www.discogs.com/de/Various-Go-Music-From-The-Motion-Picture/master/74743 )

  29. I also would like to randomly mention that the movie here is also known as VOLLTREFFER, which can be translated with BULLSEYE and according to my limited english knowledge, seems to be an odd translation of THE BIG HIT. At least that’s how it ran on TV one or few times, while the rest of the time it was listed as THE BIG HIT, which is also the title on the DVD. I seem to remember that it ran in theatres as THE BIG HIT – VOLLTREFFER, but can’t remember if it was also released as that on VHS or just as THE BIG HIT. I definitely have never heard anybody refer to it as VOLLTREFFER. Only as THE BIG HIT.


  30. CJ, your English knowledge does not seem very limited. Also I always appreciate hearing about the translated titles.

    I should watch GO again. That would be a good one to review. I didn’t expect this review to get as much traction as it did, but that’s good, because I like revisiting the ’90s stuff.

  31. I wouldn’t say VERY limited, but limited enough that I had to think for a few minutes if a big hit can be the same as a bullseye in a different context. (I still don’t know, but I don’t think so.)

    And I’m all for a review of GO (or GO – DAS LEBEN BEGINNT ERST UM 3 UHR MORGENS [Life starts only at 3am], as it is named here).

  32. The movie was called WARHEADS in some parts of Asia. Hard to understand why…

  33. GO is a good one.

    Pegsmen, I remember Chow saying some about wanting more dramatic roles at the time, but I could argue that every Hollywood film he made was an action movie except THE KING AND I.

    Sternshein, I will have to give THE CORRUPTOR another chance. It has been almost 20 years since I watched it, and maybe I was hard on it because I was comparing it against all his great HK action films.

  34. I also saw this in the theater and once again on DVD whenever the DVD came (early 2000-something?). I’m mis-remembering it as coming out earlier than 1998? I do remember it being really great and one of the rare American movies that actually feels like a HK film except it has “famous Hollywood actors”, same with Hard Target (bootleg director’s cut) and maybe Face-Off. The editing of the car chase in the woods, that didn’t obey the law of physics, was just as funny as anything edited and directed by Sam Raimi. I don’t remember the band soundtrack being particularly notable and looking at it today I don’t see a single band I like (or even recognize).

  35. Charles, that was the reason why I hated The Replacement Killers. I like the Curruptor because it’s a basic police procedural with good performances. They really don’t do police procedural much anymore.

  36. Yeah that car chase in Corruptor is solid! I remember the movie being a little bit of a letdown in the action department but that scene sold it for me. (Corruptor had less of the HK action I wanted but more of the cops/criminal grey areas, whereas I felt Replacement Killers had the flash and action but lacked the depth)

    I also concur with thr GO review. Really enjoy that one.

  37. Sternshein, yeah they don’t make police procedural films and modestly budgeted action films like they used to. Hollywood seems to only want to make special effects filled films that cost over 200 to 300 million in hopes of making 600 million or more. They don’t seem as interested in making medium to small budget films between 30 to 70 million and potentiay making a 100 million plus profit. They would rather gamble on the chance of one big expensive spectacle film hitting it big than making a few modestly costing smaller films, because even if they are successful at the box office they don’t have the chance of potentially grossing the money the more expensive spectacle film could gross. However, the current Chinese film industry cranks out the type of police procedurals and action genre films Hollywood seems to have given up on. For example: DRUG WAR, THE WHITE STORM, OPERATION MEKONG, and EXTRAORDINARY MISSION are all good examples of the type of film we are disscusing.

  38. While we are suggesting films to review, Chow Yun-Fat and Asian cinema, I have to give a plug for LET THE BULLETS FLY. It is directed by and staring Wen Jiang (SW: ROUGE ONE) and features Chow. It is not a tradtional action film even though it does have some good shoot outs in it. It is clever social political satire with with a good story, humor, and action. I would recommend it based on entertainment value alone, but it is also interesting that the film made it past mainland China censors considering it is a story where the line between government official and bandit is blurred. It has a much more complex view of good and bad than most mainland China films. Also, Chow plays a great bad guy in the film, and it is fun to see him in that role.

  39. Of those you mentioned I think Drug War is a 5 star classic. The performance of Louis Koo is like next level incredible.

  40. “they don’t make police procedural films and modestly budgeted action films like they used to.”

    People keep saying that, but I’ve seen at least a dozen movies fitting that description in the past couple years. Maybe not the police procedural part (America is not really on speaking terms with its law enforcement community at the moment) but there’s been SLEEPLESS, PROUD MARY, TRIPLE NINE, SICARIO (with a sequel on the way), JOHN WICK 2, ATOMIC BLONDE, COLLIDE (didn’t see but fits the criteria), BABY DRIVER, WIND RIVER (more a crime thriller, but there is some pretty decent action), THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD (also unseen by me), AMERICAN ASSASSIN, KINGSMAN 2 (which, sadly, would have to be considered “modestly budgeted” by modern standards), THE FOREIGNER, LIAM NEESON IS TAKEN THE TRAIN, DEN OF THIEVES… Probably more that I’m forgetting. And that’s not even counting DTV or streaming, which would more than double that list. I’m not saying many of these movies are future classics, but the same could be said of the majority of action films from the 80s or 90s. Compare this list of theatrically released action films to the horror genre, which, to me, is in a sorry state. I’ve seen one (1) horror movie in the theater in that same span of time that I didn’t think was an almost total waste of time, and that one had the advantage of being based on my favorite book of all time so it barely counts. All the others are sad, stunted little specimens designed to appeal to wieners and dilettantes. In light of that, and also coming off of the nonstop travesty that was the Shakycam Era, I have to say we’re living in a minor golden age of action cinema at the moment. Maybe a Bronze Age. 87Eleven is making an action movie with Bob Odenkirk, for christ’s sake. Amazing things are afoot. I don’t know how long it’ll last so I’m enjoying it while I can.

  41. Mr. M, I agree that we are in the golden era of DTV genre films, and I think there are foreign film industries that are making the type of films we are talking about. THE FOREIGNER is a great example of the type of film I am talking about, it is the type of modestly budgeted successful foreign produced action film I was talking about. My point was that Hollywood doesn’t make the type of genre films they used to. The are usually foreign or independent productions, that may or may not get a wide spread theatrical release in the states. That means that some genres like the police procedural are not getting made the way they used to in the Hollywood studio system.


  43. Hot take, Sicario is boring and in no way an action movie.

  44. They’re still making police procedurals, how could anyone forget… uh… THE SNOWMAN. Good candidate for a review that one. It plays as a parody of grim serial killer fiction in the same way as ALEX CROSS, and I still chuckle thinking of Vern’s review of that one.

  45. ALEX CROSS is comedy gold.

    Vern, just curious but will you be reviewing THE HURRICANE HEIST?

  46. I enjoyed Hurricane Heist but there isn’t much to say about it.

  47. Vern and all,

    Since it features LDP in one of his all-time wonderful roles, I just wanted to put in a plug for the TV series Longmire, which has completed its run and is available in full on Netflix. One of the great recent shows, and LDP is a huge reason why. Just sharing!


  48. Felix – I certainly will review any Rob Cohen movie about a hurricane heist but I have not seen it yet. I would like to see it in a theater but I don’t know if it’s going to happen.

  49. Never saw this one. Came out when I was in high school, when I hated most things. I saw it as shallow, empty, and vacuous. But, hearing about it now, it sounds like something I should see, especially that LDP performance. I’m usually okay with admitting when I was wrong, but that is going to be a lot of pride to swallow because of the sheer volume of shit I talked about it.

    Also, even though 1998 was peak hatred and angst for me, loved me some Save Ferris. It is, to this day, still my jam. It Means Everything has not been off of my iPod in over three years.

  50. Ancient Romans: Don’t be so quick to doubt yourself. I rewatched it a couple years ago and found it pretty insufferable except for a few good bits. It’s an ugly-looking movie (See, guys, sometimes I do care about cinematography) with some cringe-worthy gender dynamics, and everybody acts like they’re in a Troma movie, but without the cheap, sleazy madness that would make that interesting. I particularly found Woodbine’s masturbation obsession to be pretty eye-rolling, and the one really good gag (the KING KONG LIVES thing) is ripped off from BETTER OFF DEAD. It all felt dated in a way that I didn’t find endearing. So I think you were right the first time and it’s everybody else who was wrong.

  51. LDP was good, though.

  52. Nope, after caspering* it, I say you are wrong. Kinda agree with you about the cinematography, but I would call it more basic than ugly. It doesn’t stand out, but at least it looks like a theatrically released movie. (And in parts even like a real Hong Kong movie, the way the camera moves, slow motion and/or that weird looking shutter whoosh effect is used.)

    *still trying to make it a thing

  53. I mean it is kind of like the Better Off Dead joke in some rudimentary way I guess.

  54. Saw this back when it came out and even then it was obvious that LDP (who I love) was totally trying too hard.

  55. Man, I saw this at the theater and loved it but have never thought about it since. I was a teenager then so it would be interesting to see how it holds up now. GO on the other hand I have on DVD and still watch every now and then. Great movie.

    I thought everyone still called him Marky Mark? I mean, why wouldn’t you? Just like the guy from Independence Day will always be the Fresh Prince.

    Sternshein – you usually have pretty good taste, but Sicario is the complete opposite of boring. That movie was fucking great.

  56. And Jeff Goldblume will always be The Fly.

  57. One thing I noticed for the first time is how much I could identlfy with Melvin in some ways. They play his constant politeness for laughs, but there is more than one moment, where we are supposed to feel bad for him, when his friends make fun of him for it. That’s basically me. I’ve always been the nice guy of every group I was in. I can be a real cold hearted asshole, but all in all I was raised to say please and thank you and try to not hurt other people’s feelings, which is something that I’m definitely not ashamed of, because they are good values IMO. But still, this time some moments totally triggered some memories from school or work in me.

    (Disclaimer: I never worked as a hitman or kidnapper)

  58. This was my all time favorite movie for an entire year after it came out. Now that I’m more mature, I understand how unhealthy Melvin’s attributes that I related to were. I do still think this is the American movie that got Hong Kong style more right than any other because it embraced the absurd humor. American movies were always trying to make wirework and gun fu make sense. That’s not really how Hong Kong played it. Even John Wick I feel embraces the fantasy of Hong Kong style while giving it gravitas.

    I definitely called Wahlberg being an action hero. Too bad he didn’t do more martial arts because he had the skills for the choreography.

  59. CJ, I think the point of Melvin’s journey is that it is good to be considerate, but it’s also okay to assert oneself for what they want. I.e., don’t let your colleagues throw you under the bus, don’t let lovers use you for their own benefit… Sometimes letting people not like you is better for yourself in the long run.

    I definitely avoided many conflicts in my youth because I didn’t want someone to stop liking me. It was only the last few years I got bold enough to stand up for myself. I found in most cases, yes, they got angry. That’s part of the process. But they cooled off and at least resumed our friend ship, and in some cases ultimately saw my way. If they won’t like you because you stand up for yourself, that’s a sign.

    Also King Kong Lives video rules and #1 customer to the adult section!

  60. I remember having a ball with this film when I was a lot younger, like when I was 12, and I bought it a few years later when I was about to turn 15 and I still liked it a lot. It’s been so long. I must give it a re-watch.

    One other thing, I am really shocked that when you mentioned Christina Applegate, you did not mention “Married… With Children.” That show had ended a year before this film had come out and she was mostly known for being on that show up to that point.

  61. Ya know, thinking about it I can see myself disliking the movie if I had been old enough to see it at the time.

    But the 90sness of it was simply appealing to me, one era’s obnoxious can be another era’s charming.

    It’s the late 90s in a nutshell, it was a time that was easy to hate when living through it, a lot of the culture at the time just seemed dumb and irritating, but in today’s world you just miss the days when people were carefree enough to be able to be earnestly dumb and irritating.

  62. I just watched THE CORRUPTOR and can agree with Sternstein that it is the real deal. I can even imagine if more or less the same film had been released this decade a select audience would have gone nuts for it DRIVE-style. But I think in 1999 people were too invested, one way or the other, in the politics of Hong Kong stars going Hollywood.

  63. I don’t know if it was cause I was 14 at the time but I really enjoyed this back when I saw it in theaters. I think it helped that I had no expectations for it and was pretty surprised. As opposed to something like THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS that I was really hyped for and ended up hating.

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