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Review The Replacement Killers (1998): Heroic Bloodshed Antoine Fuqua style.....

genre: action, crime

The Replacement Killers was a title I looked forward to seeing it whenever it was announced. I mean A John Woo produced action film featuring Chow Yun Fat how could you go wrong? And yes, when I was in the cinema at the time I was enjoying myself immensely. Even a second and third viewing on video I was liking it very much.

However for other reasons than I should have been. The soundtrack for example. Some tracks are chosen well and they make the scenes more interesting. Even promising to big things to come (Which sadly never do). After having re watched this film several times after I have come to the conclusion that The Replacement Killers is pretty average. It does not hold up today and actually makes you cringe at times in how plain it actually is. This is not how you should introduce Chow Yun Fat to people who aren't familiar with him and his work.

Here is a good scene that makes The Replacement Killers more stylish than it actually is:

First of all, it's a travesty that Chow Yun Fat is not given more to do. The handsome and charismatic actor has been reduced to parodying the roles he has been playing in the films that have made him so popular. Don't get me wrong. Every scene he is in you can't escape the guy but that only makes it more apparent that he is severely underused. 

Second of all, Antoine Fuqua fails to understand what John Woo's magic was. And apparently John Woo himself forgot that also since I read he choreographed the action scenes. These sequences are decent but not if you compare it to Woo's older work or let's say later projects like Mission Impossible. The action should have rocked or at least have that something that would want to make you watch them over and over again. Here it simply is not memorable enough. 

Third, they try real hard for Chow Yun Fat's character  John Lee (very imaginative isn't it?) and Meg (played by Mira Sorvino) to have some chemistry. And I have to admit there is some tension there. However nothing substantial is done with that. In one scene you expect them to kiss and this never happens even when it seemed perfectly natural to do so considering the circumstances. Why? Don't tell me that Hollywood thought it would upset people? It just makes me angry. (I read that on the DVD there is an alternative scene where they do kiss but I never bothered to watch those when offered and already got rid of the DVD I owned. Look there might be a case made to not show the kiss and keep the relationship friendly. If that is the reason behind it. But if it wasn't? Why would there be an alternative scene in the first place? Seems very suspect to me and yet another proof of Hollywood not being able to get past old ways.

Overall The Replacement Killers is nowhere near the action classic that it could have been. For that it lacks too many elements to make that happen. And seeing how both John Woo and Chow Yun Fat were involved that simply is a big shame. 

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