Replacement Killers

Replacement Killers


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

This used to be Jean-Claude Van Damme territory. Things change. Mira Sorvino has turned into a dangerous dame in a tight tanktop, while Hong Kong star, Chow Yun-Fat, strides through his first Hollywood picture with the confidence of a zen master.

Ken Sanzel's script appears formulaic, although his firepower is awesome. Guns aren't phallic monstrosities. There are just too many of them. And they keep spitting lead.

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The plot is a variation on a fox hunting theme, except the action takes place in the city and the fox is John Lee (Yun-Fat), hitman for a Chinatown gang lord, who discovers a conscience when ordered to assassinate a detective (Michael Rooker) at home with his wife and son.

Lee is altogether too principled to be involved in this kind of work. He seems fearless, efficient, without remorse. Taking out a party of bad guys at a fashionable night spot becomes a matter of logistics - how many rounds required, how many revolvers about his person, how fast can the job be done? He's cool. He doesn't sweat. He doesn't kick people in the face. He wears a suit.

Meg Coburn (Sorvino) works alone on the upstairs level of what looks like a disused warehouse. She's a forger, specialising in passports. Instead of jewellery, she wears a razor blade around her throat and is suspicious of men, not because she swings the other way, but because men are trouble and might be cops. "I've always considered myself a feminist pioneer," she says - whatever that means.

When Lee comes to her for professional services - he has to get back to China before his wife and child are abducted - the gang boss's heavy mob follow and a mighty battle ensues, trashing the place. Coburn has to stick with Lee now, or she's toast. Being a feminist pioneer, she demonstrates certain tomboyish traits, such as inside leg drop kicks and close range pistol whacking.

Antoine Fuqua is renowned for his pop videos. This is his first feature film. He makes sure the violence has an individual feel to it. In the action race, the old horses (Arnie and Sly) are slowing and the rest of the field (Van Damme, Seagal, Lundgren) are tired. Yun-Fat can hardly be described as a kick'n'gouge merchant.

He's a two-fisted gunslinger, an actor of the highest quality, working at the rough end of the trade, who has taken the trouble to learn English pronunciation perfectly. As for Sorvino, she's a far tougher cookie than Meg Ryan or Winona Ryder. Almost as good as a bloke.

Pity about the storyline. Same old same-old.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Replacement Killers packshot
A hitman tired of the game, hooks up with a forger to try to escape to his family.
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Director: Antoine Fuqua

Writer: Ken Sanzel

Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Mira Sorvino, Michael Rooker, Jurgen Prochnow, Carlos Gomez, Frank Medrano, Kenneth Tsang

Year: 1998

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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