The Replacement Killers (1998) / Action-Thriller
MPAA Rated: R for strong violence and for language
Running Time: 87 min. (extended cut runs 96 min.)
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Mira Sorvino, Michael Rooker, Jurgen Prochnow, Kenneth Tsang
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Screenplay: Ken Sanzel
Review published July 6, 1998
Chow Yun-Fat (The Killer, All About Ah-Long) plays John Lee, one of the world's best hitmen. When a powerful Mob boss' son gets killed by a police officer (Rooker, Mallrats), the boss (Tsang, A Better Tomorrow) wants the cop's son dead and sends Lee out to kill him. When Lee can't bring himself to kill a 7-year-old boy, he finds himself on the run for displeasing his boss and must leave the country to save his own family from suffering the same fate. Sorvino (Mimic, Romy and Michelle) plays Meg Coburn, a gutsy passport forger who gets caught up in the wild mix and finds herself fighting for her life alongside Lee in a struggle for survival.
A very stylish action vehicle, perhaps too stylish for its own good in a way, as the style seems to have compromised the story somewhat. Clocking in at a shade under an hour and a half, with very little dialogue, the film has about the consistency and depth of a comic book, albeit a very well-drawn one.
Yun-Fat is appealing in his first American role, but Sorvino seems to lack the gritty depth that her role requires and most of her scenes to suffer due to that fact.
The film is quite beautiful viscerally; reminiscent of the way Blade Runner looked and felt, although that film the comarisons end there in terms of overall quality. It is a dumb film, but in it's defense it wasn't going for profundity or any political bent. It is an action film, pure and simple, and if it's action you want, this delivers quite nicely and for that it gets a marginal recommendation.
©1998 Vince Leo