The Replacement Killers (1998)
Chow Yun-Fat, Mira Sorvino, Michael Rooker, and Kenneth Tsang.
Screenplay by Ken Sanzel.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua.
Review by Carlo Cavagna.
In this era of falling asteroids and nonsensical plots, it's a relief to know that somebody out there still knows how to make a good action movie. Give it a coherent story, but keep it simple. Don't clutter it with unnecessary subplots, but do slowly raise the stakes until the climactic scene. Build the tension before each action sequence. And above all, make it all look fantastic.
Hong Kong action star Chow Yun-Fat, the somber antihero of John Woo's most famous work (A Better Tomorrow, The Killer, and Hard Boiled), is an assassin forced to take a job that rubs his conscience the wrong way. When he refuses to carry out his orders, he and his family become targets. The Replacement Killers also stars Mira Sorvino, who unwillingly becomes Chow Yun-Fat's sidekick when he shows up at her door to purchase forged documents. It's another odd choice for Mira Sorvino, who since winning an Oscar for Mighty Aphrodite has also made Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion and Mimic. Sorvino majored in Asian studies at Harvard, speaks Mandarin, and lived for almost a year in Beijing. Apparently she would like to make a film in Chinese, and she believes The Replacement Killers brings her a step closer to her goal. Anyway, she's quite enjoyable here, and the film is improved by her presence.
With Chow Yun-Fat in the starring role and John Woo himself as the executive producer, The Replacement Killers has the look and feel of a John Woo film. It lacks that touch of artistry that only John Woo the director could have brought, but Antoine Fuqua copies Woo's style well enough. The establishment of movie critics panned The Replacement Killers for being stupid and overly violent, and while their criticism is not off-base (one cannot accuse Killers of possessing a kernel of intelligence), Killers is still one of the better action films of a relatively weak movie year.
Review © March 1999 by AboutFilm.Com and
Image © 1998 Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc.
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