Plot: What’s it about?
John Lee (Chow Yun-Fat) is one of the most skilled professional killers in the world, but his latest assignment is causing him some real problems. He has been hired by crime boss Mr. Wei (Kenneth Tsang) to take out the young son of a police officer named Stan (Michael Rooker), who was responsible for the death of Wei’s own son. Lee has battled his conscience for some time now, but once he completes this final task, he can leave this lethal business. But his sense of conscience kicks in and he cannot follow through with the hit, which means his own life in serious trouble and soon enough, the replacement killers will sent in his direction. In order to leave his current life behind, he needs some documents and since he can’t obtain these through the normal channels, he visits a master forgery artist, Meg Coburn (Mira Sorvino). You see, Lee has to return to China and save his family before word of the betrayal reaches Wei’s men there. But now Lee has to deal with the mistrusting Meg, an onslaught of police officers, Wei’s normal forces, and the lethal replacement killers, just to be able to survive…
This movie might not have a lot under the hood, but it does have a good storyline and excels in some areas. No, you don’t pop in The Replacement Killers when you want to give your brain some exercise, but you can watch it for an excellent thrill ride, as it delivers balls to wall action and some terrific visuals. The action scenes don’t come around as often as I would like, but when they do show up, they make up for the quantity with quality, often coming close to some of the best American attempts at Hong Kong action in a while. In addition to the smooth, complex fast paced movements found in the film, you’ll some memorable visuals. The use of color, lighting, and production design enhances not only the action focused scenes, but even the more reserved ones, since it all looks so slick and well executed. In other words, The Replacement Killers looks & sounds top notch and brings home some great action sequences, making it a wise choice for fans of action cinema. Sure, it could use some fine touches in terms of storyline and such, but all things considered, this movie is terrific and this new special edition is well worth the cash.
This is by no means his finest work, but Chow Yun-Fat does turn in a solid performance here and amps The Replacement Killers up a few notches, to be sure. He isn’t given much in terms of dialogue or demanding dramatic scenes, but he is let loose to do what he does so well, wreak havok in the action sequences and dazzle audiences. His performance is superb in those respects and since this is the kind of movie where entertainment is the main purpose, I see no reason to critique his efforts, he seems right on the mark here. He is able to bring so much skill and style to the action driven parts, it elevates them beyond their normal limitations and that’s pretty damn impressive, if you ask me. Other films with Chow Yun-Fat include Hard Boiled, Full Contact, The Corruptor, Once a Thief, A Better Tomorrow, and The Killer. The cast also includes Mira Sorvino (Mimic, Beautiful Girls), Michael Rooker (The 6th Day, Days of Thunder), Jurgen Prochnow (Air Force One, The English Patient), and Clifton Collins, Jr. (The Last Castle, Tigerland).
Video: How does it look?
The Replacement Killers is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As this is a visually charged picture, I had high expectations in terms of performance for this transfer and Columbia has come through in the clutch. The print is very clean and shows minimal signs of wear, while compression is flawless, no defects to report in the least. The colors range from vivid to dank and all stops in between, but no matter what the shade is, all of the hues look picture perfect here, no errors at all. No issues with the contrast either, as black levels come off as sharp and refined throughout. All in all, this is an almost reference level visual presentation and without a doubt, fans will be thrilled to no end.
Audio: How does it sound?
This movie has a lot of high impact action and as such, the included Dolby Digital 5.1 option provides some high impact audio, very cool indeed. The surrounds pulse and rock in the action driven sequences, thanks to cascades of bullets, breaking glass, and all sorts of other fun elements. The bass is deep and kicks in when needed and when the smoke clears, the action scenes sound excellent and should give most home theaters a solid workout. But the dialogue and subtle audio aren’t lost in the mix here, as the balance remains dead on and as such, nothing gets overpowered in the least. This disc also contains Spanish, French, and Portuguese language options, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This new special edition has a few more supplements than the previous disc, including an audio commentary with director Antoine Fuqua. His session is talkative and brisk, as Fuqua speaks about the film’s genesis, the various action scenes, his thoughts on the cast, and other behind the scenes anecdotes. You’ll also find a selection of deleted scenes, an alternate end sequence, an HBO behind the scenes featurette, some talent files, a featurette that focuses on Chow Yun-Fat, and the film’s theatrical trailer.