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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Gangster > Martial Arts Cycle > The Replacement Killers – Extended Cut (Sony Blu-ray)

The Replacement Killers – Extended Cut (Blu-ray)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: C-     Film: C-



Sometimes you get elements that mesh together, even in a poor film, resulting in a hit of sorts with legs no matter the flaws.  Antoine Fuqua is one of those filmmakers who this seems to happen to more often than not, including getting interesting or unusual work out of top actors.  His 1998 hit The Replacement Killers was a vehicle to launch martial arts star Chow Yun-Fat in a smooth Hollywood production, but instead lead to a career as varied and nixed as Fuqua.


Yun-Fat plays an expert assassin who turns on the big mob boss who recently hired him to avenge the death of his son.  With his family in the U.S., he wants to get them back to safety in his homeland China and turns to a forgery expert (Mira Sorvino in a role that gave her career new possibilities before they all went unrealized) battling the bad guys in the process.


Unfortunately, like John Woo’s unsuccessful attempts to transplant his Hong Kong action style to the tired Hollywood action formula so well spoofed in the recent Clive Owen/Paul Giamatti howler Shoot ‘Em Up, Fuqua is hampered by formulaic constraints built into the Hollywood end of the genre and cannot find a way to break them.  This leaves the film only able to ride on its stars and some action sequences that have some moments.  The gangster storyline from Ken Sanzel’s screenplay is like Year Of The Dragon lite and the result is a hit curio from a few genres that has not aged well.  The title refers to the successors to the Yun-Fat assassin, but predictably, none are his match.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is better than DVD could deliver, yet this HD master has one too many flaws for its own good to be one of the better of more recent back catalog Blu-ray releases.  The cinematography by Director of Photography Peter Lyons Collister has some good moments, but also delivers too many visual clichés, more obvious than ever as this kind of film is so played out by now, again as demonstrated by Shoot ‘Em Up.  The film was originally issued at its best in a 7.1 SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound) mix that likely helped it at the box office and was one of the better mixes in the format at that point by default.  It has always had strange sound effects issues where the sound did not always match or fit the image, with the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes (as on the previous DVD) sounding even worse.  That mix is sadly repeated here in four languages, but the new PCM 16/48 5.1 mix is the kind of upgrade that delivers more of what the SDDS mix intended (here in English and Italian) despite the technical issues inherent to the original sound master.  Harry Gregson-Williams score is fairly good.


Extras include a making of program oddly titled Where The Action Is and featurette about Yun-Fat “going Hollywood”.  Too bad it has been all downhill for him since this film in terms of Hollywood action projects.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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