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.

Bullet Points: Hot Rounds Of Information Goodness

i-frankenstein-aaron-eckhart-1Aaron Eckhart looks pretty badass in this teaser for the first I, Frankenstein trailer which hits tomorrow. [via Collider]

amber_heard_machete_killsAmber Heard looks ready to handle anything in her solo Machete Kills poster. [via SHH]

hunger games catching fire poster fullSpeaking of dangerous ladies with pointy objects, Jennifer Lawrence wants to shoot you with an arrow in the latest The Hunger Games: Catching Fire poster. [via Moviefone]

Hugh Jackman recently told the world that he’s got a part in Neill Blomkamp’s robot kidnapping drama Chappie. [via Screen Daily]

transformers age of extinction Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz and Jack ReynorMichael Bay showed off this picture of Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor from the set of Transformers: Age Of Extinction. [via Michael Bay]

Discovery Channel’s working on an Evel Kineval documentary called True Evel. [via Deadline]

gina carano fast & furious 6Gina Carano’s In The Blood will be distributed by Anchor Bay and Fox home video. In the film, the MMA star goes on a mission to get her kidnapped husband back in the Caribbean. [via THR]

joely richardson nip tuckMaggie, the film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a dad trying to help his daughter played by Abigail Breslin after she gets bit by a zombie, has rounded out the family unit with Joely Richardson joining on as the mom. [via TheWrap]

Bullet Points: Hot Rounds Of Information Goodness

whip_it_ellen_pageEllen Page might play Tara Chace in the big screen adaptation of Greg Rucka’s Queen & Country comic series. John Rogers (Leverage, Transformers) is currently working on the script. [via Variety]grudge match sylvester stallone robert de niro

Check out the first image from the Robert De Niro/Sylvester Stallone boxing comedy Grudge Match. [via USA Today]

Paramount announced that they snagged Snow White And The Huntsman writer Evan Daugherty to pen the third G.I. Joe film. Daugherty also did some re-writing on the upcoming Ninja Turtles reboot. [via Deadline]Bruce-Willis-RED

Even though he finds explosions boring these days, Bruce Willis is still signing on for more paychecks action films. The latest is called The Prince in which he plays a guy waiting for revenge on a mob enforcer who returns to Vegas to get his daughter back. Red Dawn writers Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore penned the script for director Sarik Andreasyan (American Heist). [via Collider]SNOWPIERCER_LE-TRANSPERCENEIGE-Affiche-def

Did you see the French poster for Snowpiercer? Well now you have! [via CloneWeb]

the gambler james caan

Word on the street is that Mark Wahlberg is in talks to star in a remake of the James Caan 1974 flick The Gambler with potential director Rupert Wyatt (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes). [via Deadline]electric shadows vol 1

Electric Shadows blogger Jean Lukitsh wrote an e-book about the history of martial arts cinema that also features segments from the author’s personal memorabilia collection called Electric Shadows: The Secret History Of Kung Fu Movies Volume 1. The 69 page book is $2.99 on Amazon. [via Kung Fu Cinema]

Mark Wahlberg Gets Serious In Lone Survivor Trailer

With 2 Guns opening this weekend and Lone Survivor hitting this winter, Mark Wahlberg’s showing very different acting chops on the big screen. As we mentioned yesterday, 2 Guns seems to have a more light hearted, comedic tone to it, at least judging by his character’s one-liners, while Survivor is a lot more serious. Directed by Peter Berg (Hancock, The Rundown), this new film tells the (based on a true) story of a quartet of Navy Seals whose mission in Afghanistan goes sour and they have to eventually fight their way out of trouble. The film also stars Taylor Kitsch, Eric Bana, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster.

The above trailer showcases the dramatic aspects of the film which, according to Variety, is being pushed as an Oscar contender by Universal hence the early New York and LA release of December 27 in advance of the wider January 10th one.

2 Guns Red Band Trailer Brings Out The Big Guns

2 guns poster

Depending on which channels you watch or radio stations you listen to, you’ve probably seen and heard a lot of ads for 2 Guns. The film stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg as two undercover investigators from different organizations who join forces after realizing they’re being set up.

Baltasar Kormákur helmed the project which reunited him with Contraband star Wahlberg. From the looks of things, the flick seems to be a pretty solid mix of action and comedy, with Wahlberg playing the colorful jokester to Washington’s far more serious straight man.

The red band trailer below features many of the scenes from the TV spots, but with a few more explosions, Wahlberg witticisms and the occasional swear word. It’s technically NSFW (depending on where you work), but only just barely.

Based on a Steven Grant comic of the same name 2 Guns also stars Bill Paxton, Paula Patton, James Marsden, Edward James Olmos and Fred Ward. The movie opens this Friday.

Drive-In Double Feature: Going The Distance & The Other Guys (2010)

The missus and I have been wanting to head to the Warwick Drive-In all summer, but the pairings of movies have either been uninteresting or we’ve either been out of town on good weekends. See, they’ve got three screens set up and each one shows two movies. We had never been to this drive-in, but we had a great time when we went last night to see Going The Distance and The Other Guys. As an added bonus, I could see the screen showing Expendables and kept peeping the awesome action scenes while listening to Other Guys.

Before getting into my review of Going The Distance, which I dug, doesn’t that not look like Drew Barrymore in the poster to the left? It’s kind of unsettling. Otherwise, I dig the poster.

Anyway, the movie’s about Barrymore and Justin Long a pair that meet in Brooklyn’s Barcade (one of the few hip places I’ve been in the city, though I could barely handle the overabundance of hipsters, go fig), but the problem is that Barrymore is an intern at a NYC paper and will be heading back to California in a few weeks. They don’t plan on making a big deal of their relationship, but find that they really dig each other and give the long distance relationship thing a shot.

Sounds kind of formulaic, right? Yeah, it kind of is. Both Long and Barrymore have sexy friends and coworkers of the opposite sex who make the partner jealous. But, even with all of that, I thought the movie was surprisingly funny. I didn’t realize it was rated R and they really go with it, having the usually disgustingly saccharine Barrymore dropping F bombs and drunkenly telling a huge biker to suck her dick. So, I went in expecting yet another Barrymore romantic comedy with Long’s awkward comedic stylings (which I like for the most part), but with the inclusion of Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day as Long’s friends and Christina Applegate and Jim Gaffigan (who is the only comedian in recent memory to make me laugh so hard I cried) as Barrymore’s sister and brother in law there’s a lot of funny moments going on like when Day, Long’s roommate, starts DJing Barrymore and Long’s first hookup and they’re both okay with it. Those unexpectedly funny moments made me laugh.

The problem with some of those moments and others where they seem to be letting Sydeikis or Applegate riff is that the movie feels about 10 minutes too long which is fair considering it’s 102 minutes. I’m a strong proponent of comedies not exceeding the magic 90-minute marker. Instead of cutting the funny bits, though, I would have just gotten rid of Applegate’s sexy British work friend who winds up disappearing after an awkward moment between the two when Barrymore gets super drunk. All in all, though, I was surprised at how funny the movie was and how much I didn’t mind the tropes of the romantic comedy genre shown by some legitimately funny actors and actresses.

I’m not a huge fan of writer/director Adam McKay’s but I’m getting there. Anchroman befuddled me when I first watched it, but I think that’s because I didn’t know what to expect and definitely wasn’t thinking it would be a life-like cartoon. Talladega Nights and Stepbrothers were pretty good, but didn’t blow me away, however, I really loved the shorts he did with his daughter Pearl “The Landlord” and the like. Plus, he wrote tons of sketches for SNL that I’m sure I loved during his long tenure on the show where he met up with Will Ferrell, the star of all the aforementioned movies and videos.

The Other Guys is about two low-men-on-the-totem-pole cops played by Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg who go after a low level criminal which winds up being a huge deal, referencing many of the financial problems we’ve seen in this country over the past few years. The plot reminds me of a lot of 80s and 90s buddy cop action movies I like, which is fun because they reference that genre by featuring the Rock and Sam Jackson as your action-packed cops.

I was glad to see Ferrell not playing his usual manchild character. Sure, he’s cartoony, but this time around he’s more buttoned up, but has a dark side. Meanwhile, Wahlberg plays the caricature of the pent-up cop perfectly. You’ve also got actors like Damon Wayans Jr., Rob Riggle, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan and Eva Mendes doing great, funny work in the movie that makes it a lot of fun to watch. There’s lots of silliness going on here, but I think it’s the most grounded movie that McKay and Ferrell have made, which would probably also make it the most accessible (having Wahlberg and Mendes can’t hurt either). I dug this movie and appreciated that I could watch the action scenes in Expendables and not miss any plot points. Speaking of action scenes, the one in the beginning of Other Guys features the Rock and Sam Jackson in a car chase that gets stuck in a double decker bus. It’s awesome.

Both movies were set in New York, so it was fun looking for the few locales I’m familiar with. The two movies also had some interesting connections for Six Degrees fans: Rob Riggle appears in both as an asshole and both feature The Golf Club at Chelsea Piers, a driving range that overlooks the Hudson River. I’ve never been there and didn’t even know it existed until I saw Long, Sudeikis and Day hitting balls there in the first movie and then a helicopter landing on it in the second. Fun stuff!

The drive-in experience was a lot of fun. We took the missus’ car which has a hatchback and built ourselves a nice little nest in the back. I wasn’t sure how comfortable it would be lying in the back, but it was pretty great and the weather was perfect. The food we bought there wasn’t too bad, but the snacks we brought in were kind of unnecessarily and I wound up with a stomach ache (combining hamburgers, chewie Jolly Ranchers, soda and Kit Kats is not the best idea). Hopefully we can get a few more double features in before the end of the season! Also, I think I might have seen a UFO!