The Replacement Killers (1998)

The Replacement Killers (1998)

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She wasn't aware of the "Classic Hero Pose".
She wasn’t aware of the “Classic Hero Pose”.

Twitter Plot Summary: A hitman develops a conscience and has to defend himself from… replacement killers. And Mira Sorvino’s lack of suitable attire.

Five Point Summary:

1. Michael Rooker has an awesome goatee.
2. I’m not confident in her forgery skills.
3. There’s always an obligatory quiet scene before more chaos ensues.
4. Impassive, unemotional Danny Trejo is always a winner.
5. A final showdown in an alleyway? Okay, it kinda works.

Who hits the hitman? Another hitman, obviously. Chow Yun Fat is a contract killer whos develops a conscience and finds himself unable to kill anymore in this 1998 movie, which also stars Michael Rooker (and his impressive goatee), Mira Sorvino, Jurgen Prochnow (of Das Boot fame), and an appearance from Mr Geriaction himself, Danny Trejo. When Yun Fat’s John Lee chooses not to kill Michael Rooker’s police officer Zedkov in revenge for the death of crime kingpin Terence Wai’s (Tseng) son (deep breath…), he sends a bunch of replacement killers after Lee as a form of deadly penance. Lee, along with Sorvino’s Meg, then spend the rest of the film trapped between the criminals and the police, forming a grudging respect whilst trying to survive the onslaught sent against them. There isn’t much more to the story than this, but then there doesn’t need to be. Man seeks revenge ans he’s going to get it, one way or the other.

1998 marked what appears to be the peak of Mira Sorvino’s career, which is a shame because she’s not that bad at all here, holding her own against Chow Yun Fat and Jurgen Prochnow. Her character is not your typical female lead in that she’s actually quite handy with a gun and, contrary to the standard cliches, is not in constant need of rescuing. She also spends most of her time running around with her shirt completely unbuttoned so she’s basically running around with her bra on full display. That may be 90s fashion, or it may just be an excuse to show off Mira’s assets, such as they are.

Jurgen Prochnow gets to display his ruthless German efficiency whilst dishing out pain with a machine gun, whilst Danny Trejo doesn’t get any dialogue but does his early career thing of looking menacing. Chow Yun Fat is his usual competent self, adept in both action sequences and the occasional quieter moments. There’s even a very brief appearance from that Asian dude who was one of Hans Gruber’s henchmen in Die Hard – seriously, that guy must have died in hundreds of films by now.

Nice beard!
Nice beard!

One thing they never seem to learn in these films is that eventually – when the story necessitates it – you will run out of bullets if you insist on firing your gun constantly, even when there’s nobody around to shoot. Still, the trademark gun-fu and excessive gun fire does the job nicely, and it has all the style and flair of a modern martial arts action film.

It’s not a story that is all that unique or original, but that’s never stopped this type of film being thoroughly enjoyable in the past – if the action works, and here it does, then any basic plot can be forgiven. It maintains freshness through being an American film from an American director yet maintaining the feel of a traditional martial arts movie like Hard Boiled. It might suffer a little from absent villain syndrome – the bad guys aren’t in it nearly enough to come across as anything more than moderately incompetent, but the buddy pair of Yun Fat and Sorvino is sufficient and, even better, there isn’t a romance angle crammed in for the sake of it.

Score: 3.5/5

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