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The Replacement Killers

Chow Yun-Fat and Mira Sorvino in The Replacement Killers.
Year: 1998
Director: Antoine Fuqua  
Producer: John Woo, Terence Chang, Brad Grey, Bernie Brillsein, Michael McDonnell, Christopher Godsick, Matthew Baer
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Mira Sorvino, Michael Rooker, Jurgen Prochow, Kenneth Tsang Kong, Danny Trejo
The Skinny: Chow Yun-Fat is the most charismatic robot you've ever seen in this mildly entertaining Hollywood product, which marks Chow's Hollywood film debut.
by Kozo:

Chow Yun-Fat's long-awaited American debut doesn't require him to stretch his acting muscles very much. Chow is soulful hitman John Lee, an honorable fellow who refuses to off the son of a cop (Michael Rooker) for his longtime boss (Kenneth Tsang). Realizing he has to flee, he enlists the aid of a sexy forger named Meg Coburn (Mira Sorvino). Time runs out, though, and the replacement killers arrive with the task to take out Lee. But this is Chow Yun-Fat we're talking about—of course the replacements are in for more than they bargained for.

Music video director Antoine Fuqua helmed this mediocre affair, which is punctuated by too much style and almost no substance. The Replacement Killers is glossy stuff, and both looks and sounds great. However, that may be the extent of the film's positive quality. Likewise, the action is decent, but relies too much on slow motion and cool surround sound effects to get across what a little energetic choreography could have provided. There's too much posing and too little actual action—a strange criticism for an action movie produced by John Woo. Chow gets to brandish two pistols, but really has very little to work with other than a few hackneyed lines and his own considerable screen presence. Even when he's standing still, he exudes charisma that measures off the scale. Unfortunately, that's pretty much all he does in this movie: stand around. Given the script's unexciting premise and zero innovation, it's hard to gauge just how effective a Hollywood actor Chow is.

Even more on the negative end: the rest of the acting is next to nil and there isn't a single moment that captures the audience's sympathy. Mira Sorvino is sexy but wasted in her role as a forger who's so damn hot that she never buttons her shirt, thus affording us a constant view of her bra and other accoutrements. Familiar Hong Kong face Kenneth Tsang is one-note menacing, and Michael Rooker attempts destruction of the multiplex with his annoying overacting. What's frustrating here is that there are talented people behind the film. Both Chow and Sorvino can and have done better work, and what about that John Woo guy? At the very least, this average film won't sink Chow's U.S. career, but it's not going to set it on fire either. (Kozo 1998)

Notes: • Director Antoine Fuqua rebounded from The Replacement Killers to do the Denzel Washington corrupt cop thriller Training Day, which would have made a fine Hong Kong movie in years past.
Availability: DVD (USA)
Region 1 NTSC
Columbia/Tri-Star Home Video
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
English Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
English and Spanish subtitles
Theatrical Trailer
*Also Available on Blu-ray disc

image courtesy of Columbia/Tri-Star Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen