Movie Magazine International

The Replacement Killers

USA - 1998

Movie Review By Alex Lau

Chow Yun-Fat, or as we say in Chinese, Zhou Yun-Fa, is the latest in an onslaught of Hong Kong movie personalities to make the long jump across the Pacific to Hollywood. Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, John Woo and Tsui Hark all hit these shores running in the last couple of years, and now Chow makes his American debut in "The Replacement Killers," a by-the-numbers action thriller.

Chow - that's his family name - plays John Lee, the best assassin in L.A. He has a falling out with his employer, though, and in his rush to get out of the country he meets up with a documents forger, played by Mira Sorvino. The title refers to the people called in after Lee refuses to take a particular job. One thing leads to another, they all get into a bunch of shootouts, and you can probably guess what happens.

The simplicity of the plot and the script, by first-time screenwriter Ken Sanzel, is actually a plus in this case. There are no unnecessary subplots or dialogue, and we go smoothly from gunfight to gunfight with nary a plot hole worth mentioning. Hard to have a plot hole without much of a plot to begin with, right?

First-time director Antoine Fuqua borrows heavily from the style of John Woo, and it seems appropriate since Woo was the Executive Producer for "The Replacement Killers." Fuqua made his name by directing music videos, and there's a lot of that sensibility in there, too.

Of course, the big selling point is Chow. He just oozes coolness and charisma, even when he's not speaking his native language. His English is passable, and he gets to speak Chinese, too. Unfortunately, Sorvino is little more than window dressing, and the rest of the cast is pretty much a B-list crowd.

"The Replacement Killers" isn't going to win any awards, but it's a solid shoot-em-up, with plenty of gunplay, violence and mayhem for the attention-span-impaired. And it looks like Chow Yun-Fat has a shot at stardom in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

© 1998 - Alex Lau - Air Date: 2/4/98

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