The Big Hit

The Big Hit (1997)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Lou Diamond Phillips, Christina Applegate

Continuing their series of ’Superbit’ releases, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment is now bringing us Kirk Wong’s Hollywood debut ’The Big Hit.’ In this film, the director who also brought us splendid films such as ’Organized Crime And Triad Bureau’ and Jackie Chan’s ’Police Story IV’ tries to settle into the Hollywood school of filmmaking and the result is a solid, though unspectacular, film.

’The Big Hit’ tells the story of a bunch of bumbling criminals, lead by the Mafia hitman Melvin, as they try to hit the big time on their own. They kidnap the daughter of a wealthy movie mogul expecting a handsome ransom, but as it turns out, their target is flat out broke. With a hostage and no prospect of money they’re in a dilemma, but things get worse when it turns out that their hostage is actually the goddaughter of Paris, their own boss and one of the most influential mobsters around.

If this were a Hong Kong production, ’The Big Hit’ would rock. We would find the trademark humor, settings and characters all in line with the story, while the film’s direction would nicely take us into the gutters of the story’s premise and make it all tangible. With the American cast however, the film never really takes off. It feels somewhat superficial at times and never manages to be fully convincing as Mark Walberg and Lou Diamond Phillips and the rest of the cast create a feel that is too urban for the film’s own sake.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has given the film the ’Superbit’ treatment, which means we are looking at a splendid video transfer here that is free of defects and speckles. The image has amazing clarity and reveals an incredible amount of detail. The cinematography makes good use of light and dark and the shadow delineation on this release is amazing at handling these extremes without ever introducing artifacts of any sort. Once again, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment manages to show that ’Superbit’ is more than just a buzzword. While many of the differences may only be evident in a direct comparison with the previous release of the film, they are evident nonetheless and make for an exceptional presentation.

The DVD also contains a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital mix as well as a DTS track, and both tracks are blistering. With a wide frequency response, this track is reference material with a bass extension that is rocking the house and absolutely clean high ends. Surround channel usage is aggressive and always perfectly delineated without ever collapsing, making this an engulfing experience that bombards the sense from all directions at times. As with all other ’Superbit’ releases, ’The Big Hit’ does not contain any extras to ensure maximum quality of the feature film.

’Superbit’ is the epitome of DVD, and ’The Big Hit’ proves once again that there can be a high end of DVD releases with its stellar presentation. If only the folks at Columbia TriStar could finally make up their minds how they want to package these releases. While the first batch of ’Superbit’ discs came in a solid metallic cardboard sleeve, the second batch came without, and this third batch once again has a cardboard sleeve but one that is different from the first one. How about a little consistency here to allow proper collection of the discs?