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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
The Big Hit (Superbit) (1998)

Melvin Smiley: Technically, you can call me a hit man.
Keiko Nishi: Really? A hit man? Does that pay well?
Melvin Smiley: Oh, of course. I make a killing.

- Mark Wahlberg, China Chow

Review By: Brian Calhoun   
Published: March 21, 2002

Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Lou Diamond Phillips, Christina Applegate
Other Stars: Bokeem Woodbine, Elliott Gould, Antonio Sabato, Jr.
Director: Che-Kirk Wong

Manufacturer: IFPI
MPAA Rating: R for (violence, pervasive language and some sexuality)
Run Time: 01h:31m:18s
Release Date: March 19, 2002
UPC: 043396088351
Genre: action comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

The Big Hit is one of those films where everything imaginable happens, yet the story never goes anywhere. It is almost as if the filmmakers undertook this project based on a dare to try to combine every conceivable genre into one inextricable mess. Anyone who appreciates routine shootouts and gross out gags in lieu of a good script and intelligent characters will more than likely come out of this experience with an ear-to-ear grin. Others will just be appalled by its banality.

The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Bokeem Woodbine, and Lou Diamond Phillips as professional hit men who, when not killing people, spend much of their time hooting and hollering like fraternity boys on Spring break. As if their inflated incomes are not enough, they undertake a simple kidnapping job on the side in order to earn a few extra million. Too bad they did not research the fact that their unfortunate victim happens to be the goddaughter of their intimidating boss. The resulting insanity is a jumbled mishmash that involves explosions, gunshots, aggravating in-laws, and an irate, pimple-faced video store clerk.

Director Che-Kirk Wong oversees this senseless vehicle as if he has thrown the screenplay into a blender to see what kind of madness he can create from the scattered pieces. The intention was to create a spoof on mile-a-minute action pictures, but his lackadaisical efforts have resulted in a catastrophic backfire. By using the very same slow motion gunplay, generic one-liners, and everything else despicable about action movies of the late 1980s and early 90s, the film not only plummets into the same genre it aspires to parody, but also draws considerable attention to its many weaknesses. Without a solid backbone, the film amounts to nothing more than a series of ludicrous subplots. Some of these absurdities include a man who prefers masturbation over sex, a feeble moment of sexual tension involving a chicken, and several near-plagiarized lines of dialogue that end up demeaning far superior films. At the very bottom of the barrel, the audience is treated to the tasteless overindulgence of a drunken stepfather, which results in the film's most revolting moment. None of these elements are humorous, nor are they relevant to any aspect of the film's wafer thin story line.

Mark Wahlberg is clearly the most competent actor involved, but his talent is entirely wasted. Here he must try to perform with actors whose over-the-top performances practically scream "Look at me! I'm in a movie!" Lou Diamond Phillips struts around as if he were God's gift to the cinema, flaunting a persistent arrogance that comes across as strictly juvenile. Elliott Gould plays the alcoholic father so one-sided that he even seems sauced during scenes where he is not supposed to be drunk. The most humorous of these hollow performances comes from Christina Applegate. This is an actress who has expressed great concern over being typecast as a "bimbo" after playing Kelly on Married With Children. Yet, in The Big Hit she swaggers like a call girl and sputters unintelligent babble that makes Kelly seem like a genius.

I try to live my life as a peaceful man without hating anything or anybody, but I must admit, I absolutely hated The Big Hit. But I must be honest, there are those who will find this to be an incredibly enjoyable cinematic experience; some may even show their appreciation by slapping high-fives to their buddies while repeatedly bellowing some of the film's innumerable wisecracks. If all of this mindless nonsense sounds like a good time, knock yourself out.

Rating for Style: D
Rating for Substance: D-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The "Superbit" edition of The Big Hit looks fantastic. The lower compression rate used for the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen image transfer results in a stunning film-like presence, complete with a soothing appearance of film grain. Tremendously robust color saturation blends in with the perfectly balanced contrast to create an almost three-dimensional experience. The picture is not quite perfect, but the razor sharp detail is more clearly defined than any standard DVD I have ever experienced. While I have not seen the original DVD release of The Big Hit, I am willing to bet that it does not contain the level of clarity and depth that this version does.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: In continuing the "Superbit" tradition, both DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are offered, and both sound fantastic. Fidelity is dynamic and clear in a way not often heard in a home theater environment. The low end is a remarkable achievement, yet remains appropriately subtle, unlike many other 5.1 soundtracks where the LFE channel feels somewhat overbearing. Split surrounds are highly aggressive, not only with gunshots whizzing by from all directions, but also quirky sound effects and a countless number of explosions. Every explosive discharge sounds incredibly realistic, and viewers may even find themselves ducking for cover. The only negative aspect I noticed was a minor touch of distortion in the dialogue during one scene. While both tracks are phenomenal, the DTS offers slightly better channel separation and even tighter, cleaner bass from the energetic LFE channel. If I had the option to somehow mute the dialogue, I would be using this wonderful soundtrack as demo material.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:47m:20s

Extras Review: Anyone reading this section clearly does not understand the true meaning of "Superbit!" However, I should make significant mention of the layer change. As with the other "Superbit" releases I have seen, it is entirely seamless with no perceived visual pause or audio drop out. What's even more impressive is that the change occurs during the middle of a scene yet remains invisible.

Also included is the traditional "Superbit" plethora of subtitle options.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Is the "Pure Performance" status of "Superbit" really all it is cracked up to be? I personally find the depth of the audio and video to be stunning. However, this "Superbit" edition of The Big Hit is proof that it takes more than superb visuals and magnificent audio to create engaging entertainment.


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