By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Jan 29, 2001 at 12:02 AM

Guy Ritchie has become famous for two things in the last couple years. First he wrote and directed the 1998 cult hit "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels." Then he married Madonna. You can't get much more famous than that.

If Ritchie isn't cut out for the whole husband and father thing, at least he can fall back on his first career. His latest, "Snatch," is an energetic and hilarious romp full of memorable characters. Like Ritchie's last film, it is set in London's criminal underworld. It may not be much of a departure for him, but if you do something well, stick with it, right?

The beginning introduces us to the narrator, Turkish (Jason Statham). Turkish tells us that he has gotten himself into quite a fix. Despite his best efforts to remain an honest (and law-abiding) boxing promoter, it looks like that isn't going to be possible.

Turkish is in trouble with a vicious criminal known as Brick Top (Alan Ford). Brick Top's hobby is killing people and feeding them to pigs. If Turkish doesn't fix a fight for Brick Top, he's going to end up as pig feed.

Fixing the fight wouldn't be a problem, if only Turkish had a different fighter. Instead, he is stuck with One-Punch Mickey (a greasy, tattooed Brad Pitt). Mickey is a marble-mouthed gypsy unable to take a dive, no matter what the consequences are. He also tends to win fights with only ferocious punch.

Meanwhile, a lot of people are after a stolen diamond. There's Franky Four Fingers (Benicio Del Toro), who stole it in the first place. Then Boris the Blade (Rade Serbedzija) gets involved, along with American con man Cousin Avi (Dennis Farina), Bullet Tooth Tony (Vinnie Jones), Darren (Jason Flemyng) and Tyrone (Ade). How they get involved is half the fun.

"Snatch" is all about character, and the actors do not disappoint. Farina is at his sharp-tongued best in a role only he could play. This guy needs more work ASAP. Pitt is equally funny as the tough boxer who loves his mama. And Jones is priceless as a cold-blooded and ruthless killer you don't want to mess with.

Ritchie, who also wrote the movie, was wise to play things straight. It wouldn't have worked any other way. The comedy stems from the absurdity of the situations and the characters are not half as smart as they think they are.

Ritchie might still want to prove that he can do more than make a cool gangster comedy with oddball characters, but, in the meantime, he sure does it well.

Grade: B+

"Snatch" is now playing.