Plot: What’s it about?
As a vicious serial killed nicknamed The Torch terrorizes the streets, the police have been unable to gain many leads, let alone come close to an arrest. This maniac is called The Torch because he murders his victims and then afterwards, sets the corpses on fire. In addition to his killing spree, The Torch (Jean-Claude Van Damme) has been playing cat & mouse with one of the police agents, Jake Riley (Michael Rooker). But when Riley retires and leaves the case, The Torch has no one to banter with, but of course, Riley soon ends up back in the hunt. After evidence workers collect a DNA sample from a crime scene, the authorities decide to use the DNA to clone The Torch, which they think will help them find the madman. With this new approach, the NSA calls Riley back into the case and offers him the clone to aid in the search for The Torch. But even with this advanced kind of assistance, can Riley manage to track down The Torch and if so, will he be able to put an end to the murders, or will he simply become the next victim?
I know Jean-Claude Van Damme isn’t too popular in recent years, but I’ve always enjoyed his movies, so I was looking forward to this release of Replicant. I had low expectations however, so perhaps that is why I ended up liking it more than I thought, as it has some slick production values and effective action sequences. Although it is obvious Replicant wasn’t given a lot of cash to work with, director Ringo Lam (Full Contact, Twin Dragons) and his crew make it look much more expensive than it was, I’m sure. As expected, Van Damme handles the action quite well and this movie has some good action driven scenes, especially some of the chases. The cinematography and production design are on the mark also, so there’s plenty of cool visuals and of course, that all the more enhances the experience. The premise is solid and while the story loses steam pretty quickly, Lam’s direction and the action sequences keep things moving, so the plot holes never become too much of an issue. If you’re an action junkie or just need a brisk cinematic ride, Replicant would be a wise choice, especially since Artisan has issued a nice disc here. It isn’t the best action movie out there, but it is quite cool and as such, is more than recommended.
His films haven’t been as successful these days, but I still think Jean-Claude Van Damme has a strong presence and can make some cool movies. I didn’t say movies that were great mind you, but Van Damme has some juice left and can deliver at times. Although Replicant isn’t his best picture or even close, it does have his trademark moments and for fans, that should be enough to at least warrant a look. He can still hang in there with the action scenes and of course, his accent is still as thick as ever, which adds humor to his lines. It seems like he enjoys playing twins, as he does so again here and on the whole, he is effective in both roles. As long as you remember that Van Damme is an action star and not a classical actor, I think you’ll find his performance to be more than solid in Replicant. Other films with Van Damme include Sudden Death, Double Team, Bloodsport, Kickboxer, and Death Warrant. The cast also includes Michael Rooker (Mallrats, The 6th Day), and Catherine Dent (Someone Like You…, Dangerous Proposition).
Video: How does it look?
Replicant is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The image looks excellent and as per the production design, is very slick and impressive. The print used shows minimal grain, debris, and other flaws, so the other elements can come through in fine form. The colors stream across the screen in bold hues, while flesh tones remain natural and never problematic. I was just as impressed by the contrast, which allows for a high level of detail and rich, well defined black levels throughout. All in all, this one almost hits the highest of peaks, but a few minor issues keep it down, though it is still an awesome visual presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
This is an action movie and as such, the included Dolby Digital 5.1 track gets a chance to shine and in this case, it does just that. It might not be as immersive and powerful as some tracks, but it has a good range and exhibits some great use of the surrounds. Of course, the audio is most memorable in the action driven scenes, but even the more dialogue based ones sound good, with solid use of the channels for ambiance and atmosphere. The music is well presented and sounds rich, while dialogue is clean and never gets hampered by volume problems. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround option, as well as Spanish subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
I was surprised to find such a nice selection of extras here, but I commend Artisan for their work disc, without a doubt. It all starts off with an audio commentary by Michael Rooker and the man himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme and for fans of his, this session is a real treat. His accent gets in the way at times and he isn’t the most talkative person I’ve heard on a track, but it is still cool to hear his comments and as far as I know, this is his first audio commentary session. Perhaps as Special Editions of his films are released, we can look forward to more Van Damme sessions, at least I hope so, that is. Rooker also chimes in at times and since I like his work also, I was quite taken with this track. You’ll also find a selection of eight deleted scenes, which aren’t too pivotal to the flick, but still make a welcome inclusion on this release. This disc also includes some talent files, storyboards, production notes, and the film’s trailer.