We Want (90s) Action: The Big Hit (1998) & The Replacement Killers (1998)

the big hit One of my favorite aspects of Netflix is checking in every few weeks to see which movies have been added to the Instant side of things. A lot of times, the newer releases to pop up are actually discs that I got from the service less than a month prior, but for the most part, there’s usually a few things I stumble across that I’m pretty excited about. Recently, The Big Hit made its way on there and I got stoked because I remembered liking that movie around when it came out to the point where I grabbed a copy on tape, though I’m not sure where or when.

Here’s the funny thing though, I don’t know if I ever actually watched the movie when I owned it because the last 20 minutes or so of the film were a complete mystery to me. That actually made it kind of fun, but there was a lot of inadvertent content already making me have a great time. I’ll get to that in a few.

The film, directed by Kirk Wong (Crime Story), stars Mark Wahlberg as Melvin, one of the nicest guys on Earth, a real people pleaser who also happens to be an incredibly acrobatic hit man. He works with a group of killers made up of Lou Diamond Phillips’ Cisco and Antonio Sabato Jr.’s Vince, though he only shows up in the beginning and end of the movie. Cisco gets Melvin in on a side job that happens to be a kidnapping. Turns out the girl they snatch (China Chow) is actually the god daughter of their boss. Meanwhile, Melvin’s dealing with a visit from his girlfriend’s (Christina Applegate) parents played by the amazing Elliott Gould and the incredibly annoying Lainie Kazan while also trying to keep the kidnapee hidden. All this culminates in a pretty epic battle between Cisco and Melvin that’s worth the price of admission. 

Before going any further I just have to say that The Big Hit might be the most 90s movie of all time. The movie is super bright and overly complicated. The above description doesn’t even mention the member of their crew who decided to give up sex in favor of self love or Melvin’s other girlfriend or China Chow’s dad’s failed movie career or the subplot involving a nerdy video store clerk pestering Melvin about returning a copy of King Kong Lives. It’s not just that there are too many people in this movie, but everyone has a crazy quirk. Is this what people talk about when they mention the negative effect Quentin Tarantino’s movies had on other films? If so, it seems so far removed from the source to be almost untraceable.

And then there’s the clothes, which are all brighter than they need to be, especially when you consider the fact that you’re dealing with hitmen who probably don’t want to be so easily seen. And, boy, the soundtrack is just bonkers-90s. You’ve got your Fun Lovin’ Criminals, your Save Ferris and even some Mark Wahlberg up in there for good measure.

Speaking of Wahlberg, he’s fantastic in this movie, even if his character doesn’t actually make any sense. It’s like they built the circumstances of the character first and then tried to cram his actual thoughts and feelings into that box. “He’s a nice guy hitman, that’s hilarious!” But, it doesn’t make sense for a people-pleaser to spend his time murdering folks. Or cheating on one girlfriend with another. Still, he’s got that soft-spoken charm that’s pure Funky Bunch plus the spikey hair to go with it. Phillips also seemed to revel in the chance to play an over-the-top bad guy.

It might seem like I’m not a fan of this movie, but I really am. It’s a dumb, fun action movie with pretty people doing cool things, plus it works as a strange cultural artifact from a bygone decade that had way too much influence on me.

the replacement killers Antoine Fuqua’s The Replacement Killers is a far better movie, but it wasn’t quite as much fun. Then again, that’s not really the point to this Chow Yun-Fat/Mira Sorvino jam from the director who would go on to helm Training Day.

The gist here is that Chow Yun-Fat’s hitman character decides not to kill dirty cop Michael Rooker because he’s playing with his son, which obviously puts our hero in danger. On the run, he goes to Sorvino who makes fake passports. While there, the bad guys attack, assume they’re working together and they both have to do everything they can to survive an onslaught of bad guys with guns.

This was another film I remember renting in high school from Family Video. I only watched it the one time, but enjoyed it enough. I had an equally fun experience watching it this time. In its own way, this film is also very 90s, but in a much different way than The Big Hit. While that movie was concerned with being bright and cool, this one’s all about being dark and cool. There’s lots of leather jackets and black clothes and odd looking sunglasses and spinning around while shooting and, the worst trope of all, turning a gun sideways.

When this movie came out it was a pretty big deal for action fabs because it marked Chow Yun-Fat’s first American film. It might sound crazy in the day and age when I watched this on a streaming service right in my house, but back then it was much harder to get your hands on some of the more international films like Hard Boiled and Full Contact. This would have also most likely been the first time audiences got to see his moves on the big screen. Personally, I prefer him in these kinds of films as opposed to the more historical  ones like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Speaking of the cast, remember how big of a deal Mira Sorvino was in the 90s? It seemed like she was involved in all kinds of films from Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite to Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Heck, in that time she even played Marilyn Monroe and Daisy in a TV version of The Great Gatsby! I was under the impression that she hadn’t done much in the pasy decade, but IMDb tells me she’s keeping plenty busy.

Anyway, I’d say to give both of these movies a look, preferably as a double feature with a group of pals, a vodka watermelon, pizza and a few cases of beer. Damn, that sounds like a lot of fun.

For Your Home Viewing Pleasure: September 17, 2013

buffy complete seriesFirst and foremost, if you’re a fan of Joss Whedon’s Buffy: The Vampire Slayer or Angel and don’t already have all the seasons on DVD, Amazon’s Gold Box Deal today finds both complete sets on sale for $60 and $55 respectively.World War Z Blu-Ray

The biggest action release of the week also happens to be a zombie flick. The Brad Pitt global undead thriller World War Z hits home video today in a variety of formats.arrow season 1 blu

We here at Explosions Are Rad are big fans of The CW’s Arrow. If you missed out on the first season you can catch up now thanks to Arrow: The Complete First Season before the second season kicks off on October 9th.

Java Heat is a film that was not on our radar, but the idea of Mickey Rourke facing off against Twilight star Kellan Lutz sounds strangely intriguing.bruce in pursuit of the dragon a warrior's journey

Bruce Lee fans might want to check out Bruce Lee – A Warrior’s Journey/Pursuit Of The Dragon. Journey features previously lost footage from Lee’s last film The Game Of Death while Pursuit “follows the chronology” of The Big Boss, Fists Of Fury, The Way Of The Dragon and Enter The Dragon.

For some newer martial arts action, there’s Chow Yun-Fat’s latest film, The Last Tycoon, a period piece examining the story of real life Shanghai-based gangster Cheng Daqui.jackie chan beginnings

Another interesting martial arts double feature released today comes from Shout Factory and Timeless Media: Jackie Chan: Beginnings – Snake & Crane Arts of Shaolin / Magnificent Bodyguards. This double feature collects two of the six films he made in 1978 alone!