The Replacement Killers (1998) - USA
As part of the Film Critics Series - Analysing Chow Yun Fat in Hollywood
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
Antoine Fuqua’s directorial debut came in the form of Hollywood introduction to gun-fu Hong Kong icon Chow Yun Fat. The always charismatic Chow pairs up with fresh off the Academy Award and Golden Globe winning Best Supporting actress Mira Sorvino with decent chemistry as the two blast their way thru a mayhem of limitless bullets and action packed gun-flair against countless of Chinese gangster in Chinatown Los Angeles. Co-produced by action master John Woo, “The Replacement Killers” plays like a typical Hong Kong action film with Hollywood style production values. However, the story is paper thin and only saved by the presence of Chow, Sorvino and Kenneth Tsang to round out the otherwise average affair.
Chow Yun Fat gets nasty in his first Hollywood role as a killer with a good conscience. Chow tries hard with the English language and more than compensate with plenty of physical presence and smiling charisma. Chow is one of Hong Kong best dramatic actor and his regretful eyes show more than the story allows. Teaming up with Sorvino, the two share decent chemistry and if only for a more steamy love or kiss scene, the relationship will be far more intense and believable. Sorvino shows she can more than hold a gun or two. Hong Kong veteran character actor Kenneth Tsang is given ample of screen time and makes a good menacing villain. Meanwhile Michael Rooker shows up in a lesser role as the cop caught in the middle of all the mess. Action star Danny Trejo gets an interesting cameo as a heartless replacement killer.
All in all, “The Replacement Killers” ends up sitting muddled in the midst as it’s neither a Hong Kong Film or a Hollywood production entirely. It’s a decent introduction vehicle for Chow to Hollywood, but lacks all the crucial elements of a convincing storyline to make it a splash. It’s unfortunate as Chow is such a good dramatic actor in addition to being cool with guns and bullets. There are plenty of bullets flying around, but as for the audience, the excitement of seeing Chow with a double gun reminds them of far better times before.
I rated it 5/10