Chow Yun-Fat’s first go at American cinema comes out feeling much like his Korean affairs. Director Antoine Fuqua also was given his first shot at a Hollywood production, and does a fine job for a film loaded with action, combined with a paper-thin story. Shoot-outs and slowly building tension feel familiar, but this only slightly detracts from the overall feel of Replacement Killers.
Mia Sorvino and Chow Yun-Fat have an odd relationship in this action fest, thrust together under rough circumstances and forced to work together. They take on the roles typically reserved for a buddy movie, but with a serious tone. Their characters develop more strongly in this extended cut, digging into their histories and why they became who they are.
Sorvino’s performance is off at times; she delivers some rather awful dialogue without emotion behind the lines. Her sex appeal sells her role more than her acting, which makes for a rare off performance from an otherwise solid actress. Chow Yun-Fat’s English is rough, but understandable. He manages to elicit some emotion when called upon, giving his character a believable side in a movie hardly striving for realism.
The plot is beyond simplistic, and can hardly stick together long enough to carry the movie. Yun-Fat disobeys a Chinese crime lord and is forced to flee or risk his life. The entire movie becomes an extended chase sequence, punctuated only by the many shoot-outs.
Inspiration is obviously taken from the John Woo style of directing. Numerous nods are here from previous works of the famed action director, though Fuqua manages some nice touches of his own. Replacement Killers offers loads of violence and blood, but lacks the edge or intensity of a classic like Hard Boiled. It doesn’t offer the level of style or finesse, but arguably does a better job of building suspense.
For what it is, Replacement Killers handles itself nicely. It starts fast, spends enough time with its characters, and delivers plenty of what the audience came to see. This is a fine, flawed piece of R-rated action.
Columbia releases this 10-year-old feature with an HD transfer that varies more than any other before it. In one scene, each edit can go from pure video brilliance, middle of the road, and less-than-DVD quality. Grain likewise fluctuates wildly, from barely noticeable to overwhelming depending on the scene.
Details can be flat or awe-inspiring, and the black levels either work or they don’t. It’s even possible to pick out some light compression artifacts from time to time. When this one is on, it’s stunning in its sharpness and contrast. When it’s off, you’ll have to check to make sure you’re still watching this on Blu-ray.
Thankfully, the audio doesn’t suffer from these problems. This is a booming, active PCM presentation. Bullets fly all over the sound field, and techno style soundtrack never misses a chance to work the subwoofer. Gunfire can occasionally sound flat once the music subsides, but this is probably for the better. It would be hard to manage both, and would lead to an unnatural tone. This is an enveloping sound mix, and nearly every shoot-out is worthy demo material.
Studios continue to consider promotional material as effective extras, and that’s all Replacement Killers is given. Chow Yun-Fat Goes Hollywood is a piece made solely to hype up the foreign star’s U.S. debut, and lasts 20 minutes. It’s incredibly outdated given his career. Where the Action Is focuses mostly on the director Fuqua, hyping him as the prior piece did for Yun-Fat. It lasts for 10 minutes, and you can then move onto trailers before taking the disc out of your drive.