The Replacement Killers, Special Edition, on
Chow Yun-Fat's American movie debut is little more than a shoot
'em up, with whatever story there is submerged into numerous hails of bullets.
Not that that's necessarily a bad thing...
Chow Yun-Fat is John Lee, a hired killer who develops a decent
streak and refuses to go through with his latest assignment. This puts him at
odds with Mr. Wei, the ruthless crime boss who hired him, endangering the lives
of his wife and kids hiding in China.
In order to save his family, Lee needs to enter China, which means
he needs a passport. This brings him to the home office of one Meg Coburn (Mira
Sorvino), a talented forger who's just what the doctor ordered. But before she
can create the fake papers, Wei's new assassins (the replacement killers,
perhaps?) show up and fill the place full of lead.
Lee and Coburn escape, fortunately, otherwise this would be an
even shorter movie than it is. As they shoot their way through the rest of the
movie they form the expected bond, and by movie's end they're each the
unofficial presidents of each other's mutual admiration society.
The Replacement Killers is mostly about ordnance, and the movie
expends thousands of rounds of ammunition and destroys several interesting
and/or unusual (for a gunfight) locations. The action is believably staged and
shot and takes up about three quarters of the film, leaving little room for
plot and characterization.
What story there is is pretty good, though we wonder about the
believability of a hired assassin who suddenly develops a conscience. Still,
despite the plot being sandwiched in between bouts of mayhem, the characters
are reasonably three dimensional and the actors bring them to believable life.
Chow Yun-Fat is very good as the suddenly noble killer, as is Sorvino as the
small time crook who suddenly finds herself over her head and in the fight of
The supporting cast, including Jurgen Prochnow and Michael Rooker,
also turn in credible performances as, respectively, a cold blooded baddie and
a dedicated cop.
The special edition DVD is excellent, probably better than this
basically lightweight movie really deserves. The picture is presented in
digitally mastered anamorphic widescreen (16x9 TV compatible) and it is superb.
Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 and they've spent considerable effort ensuring you
can feel the concussion caused by the firearms - and you do. There's good
balance between ammo, dialogue and music, and good use of the surround
There aren't as many extras as there are on some Special Editions,
but what you get are pretty good. Extra features include a running commentary
by director Antoine Fuqua and a couple of interesting featurettes on the star
and the production. There's also a selection of deleted scenes, an alternate
ending we won't spoil for you here, trailers, filmographies, etc.
The Replacement Killers, Special Edition, from Columbia Tristar Home
88 min. anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital
Starring Chow Yun-Fat, Mira Sorvino, Michael Rooker, Jurgen Prochnow
Produced by Brad Grey and Bernie Brillstein
Written by Ken Sanzel, Directed by Antoine Fuqua
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