Replacement Killers – Retro Review

Chow Yun Fat became a superstar and icon, especially in Hong Kong and Asia after his hit action films from director John Woo, namely A Better Tomorrow, The Killer and Hard Boiled.

It was time for Chow to try Hollywood and he decided on Replacement Killers to be directed by Antoine Fuqua and to co-star Mira Sorvino.

After he betrays Mr. Wei, the ruthless crime boss who hired him to avenge his son’s death, professional killer John Lee (Chow Yun-Fat) goes on the run. Enlisting the aid of beautiful document forger Meg Coburn (Mira Sorvino), Lee attempts to return to his family in China before they are victimised by his betrayal. But Wei’s army of “replacement killers” is hot on his trail.

This is a film that is all style over little substance but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Chow Yun Fat is super cool as John Lee and his two gunned battles are great to watch and directed well in most cases. The chemistry between the two leads works well as the respect between them grows.

He is helped by a good cast such as Mira Sorvino as a no-nonsense forger and Michael Rooker who is the cop whose son Lee was supposed to kill as revenge for his crime boss and to pay off his debt. The opening is exciting set in a nightclub and after 5 minutes you know what this film is going to offer.

It is certainly a bullet ballet as these films tended to be called and director Fuqua does his job well, he went on to direct such great films as Training Day and The Equalizer series of movies.

While it does not have the kinetic energy or body count of the John Woo / Chow Yun Fat films it certainly was a good introduction of the actor to American audiences. It’s such a shame that Woo and Chow never got to make a film their way in Hollywood, but this effort certainly is entertaining and has aged very well.

The Blu-ray releases have the “extended cut” written on the cover but the differences or added footage is mostly extra dialogue, don’t expect a ton more action.

A good and solid action and gunplay movie that is worth a revisit.

8 out of 10

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