WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
I like The Big Hit probably more than I should. It's over the top, often silly, and sometimes utterly ridiculous and loud, and yet I get a kick out of it. Still, I realize that it's a B movie, a flick with few ambitions and even fewer brain cells.
Mark Wahlberg plays Melvin Smiley, a hit man with an ulcer. His personal life is battering him on all sides: His blond Jewish fiancée (Christina Applegate) wants him to be a good suburban husband, and his black girlfriend (Lela Rochon) puts tremendous financial pressure on him. Needing to make some serious money fast, he joins up with his fellow assassins Cisco (Lou Diamond Phillips), Crunch (Bokeem Woodbine), Gump (Robert Dunne), and Vinnie (Antonio Sabato Jr.) to take part in the kidnapping of the pretty daughter (China Chow) of a bankrupt Japanese filmmaker (Sab Shimono). Naturally, everything goes awry.
The story is admittedly ludicrous, and the direction is in-your-face and loud. Everyone in the cast is giddily overacting, to sometimes annoying effect. There are wild car chases, exceedingly lowbrow jokes, acrobatic gunfights—it's a mad concoction of American humor and Hong Kong action. You really need to be in the right mood to squeeze enjoyment from this movie—otherwise, you've probably got a headache in your future.
Columbia/Tristar released a fine special edition of The Big Hit in late 1998. That edition boasts above-average image and sound quality. And yet, for some inexplicable reason, the studio has chosen to re-release this title as part of its highly regarded Superbit line.
HOW'S IT LOOK?
Columbia/Tristar presents The Big Hit in a gorgeous anamorphic transfer of the film's original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio. This Superbit presentation is, like the rest of the Superbit line, spectacular. The level of detail is exquisite and reaches deep into backgrounds. The colors are brilliant, and the image just shines. I noticed no instances of edge enhancement, and the print itself seemed preternaturally clean.
However, even on my 65" monitor, the differences between this Superbit edition and the previously released special edition are minor. Granted, the previous edition's image is a tad darker and reveals small problems such as aliasing, but overall, its image is way above average. Which leads me to wonder why Columbia/Tristar has chosen to expend so much effort on a B title that has already seen exemplary image treatment on DVD.
HOW'S IT SOUND?
The disc offers a choice between Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 surround sound. The tracks are quite similar, offering vivid separation and deep lows. Music especially comes across powerfully. But again, comparisons with the original edition lead me to conclude that not much is gained here. The former audio presentation is quite serviceable and dynamic, and in at least one case, I noticed that the former edition handled high ends slightly better, whereas the Superbit edition tended toward distortion.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
In tune with the other titles in the Superbit line—at least until the Superbit Deluxe packages arrive—The Big Hit is presented without any supplements.
WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?
In the transition from regular special edition to Superbit title, The Big Hit has lost some cool special features and gained a slightly better video and audio presentation. As previously mentioned, however, even on large screens the differences will be minor. The nail in this edition's coffin is the fact that you can find the original special edition for under 10 bucks.