The Replacement Killers is the Hollywood film debut for acclaimed Hongkong action star Chow Yun-Fat. He plays John Lee, a cold-blooded assassin who will kill anyone for a price…until now. When he is sent to kill cop Michael Rooker to avenge his son’s death, something inside stops him at the critical moment. Not completing the job will incur the wrath of his employer Mr. Wei who will kill Lee’s family, so he asks Meg Coburn (Mira Sorvino) to supply him with a new identity.
Five minutes later, Wei’s ‘replacement killers’ show up ready to finish a new part of the job, her apartment-cum-office is shot full of holes as they defend themselves. With four dead men at their feet, it’s time to go on the run.
Chow gives his usual 100% to a role in a film, while Mira provides the babe-quotient, proving just as handy with a gun. Jurgen Prochnow is the leader of the ‘Replacement Killers’ sent by Wei to bump them both off and Michael Rooker finds himself getting much more deeply involved than he ever thought possible.
Overall, this is a superb high-octane action road movie with Chow and Sorvino making a success of their unlikely partnership. Endless John Woo-style action scenes set in front of many a stylish backdrop are made all the more enjoyable with the volume turned up high.
The picture quality is near-perfect. Only slight artifacts are noticeable if you’re looking for them, but not from the usual viewing distance. The film is presented in its original widescreen ratio of 2.35:1, is enhanced for 16:9 widescreen televisions – thus allowing for higher resolution – and the average bitrate is a good 5.94 Mb/s.
The sound comes in Dolby Digital 5.1 – which will benefit all of those with the suitable hardware – and Dolby Surround for everyone else. The sound gets a major workout since most of the scenes involve gunfire or loud noise of one type or another, as well as an atmospheric background score.
The extras are as follows:
- Chapters/Theatrical Trailer: There are 28 chapters spread throughout the 84 mins of the film which is excellent, the last one being reserved for the end credits. The theatrical trailer is also included.
Languages/Subtitles: There’s two languages on the disc, English and German, both available in Dolby Digital 5.1, with a Dolby surround option also offered in English. As for subtitles? Take your pick from the following FOURTEEN languages : English, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Icelandic, Hindi, Hebrew, German, Turkish, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Greek and Norwegian.
Filmographies: Brief filmographies are available for Messrs. Chow, Sorvino, Prochnow and Rooker, but wot no mention for one of Rooker’s best – Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer?
The menu is static and works well. On playing the disc you see the Columbia TriStar logo before the main menu appears.
Upon selecting the “Start Movie” option, you’ll first see a “Sony Pictures DVD Center” logo, followed by the Dolby Digital helicopter demo, the copyright logo and then the film itself.
If I had any complaints, it’s that the disc is very light on the extras, since even the Region 1 DVD contains a “making of” featurette, not to mention the fact that Columbia have now changed the packaging from the sturdy keep-cases to a plastic – easily breakable – casing as used since day one by Polygram.
Running time: 84 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Languages: English, German
Subtitles: 14 different languages available
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Producers: Brad Grey and Bernie Brillstein
Screenplay: Ken Sanzel
Music: Harry Gregson-Williams
John Lee: Chow Yun-Fat
Meg Coburn: Mira Sorvino
Michael Kogan: Jurgen Prochnow
Stan “Zeedo” Zedkov: Michael Rooker
Collins: Danny Trejo
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.