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While THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS ($30) is almost completely devoid of plot and characterization, I found myself liking this action movie quite a bit for its sense of style and its two lead performers. THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS is an Americanization of the typical Hong Kong action movie. THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS stars Hong Kong’s own Chow Yun-Fat and has favorite son John Woo serving as executive producer. In THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS Chow Yun-Fat stars as John Lee, a reluctant assassin forced to kill to protect his family. When he cannot carry out his final job, replacement killers are brought in to finish the job and finish off John Lee. John hopes to escape back to China and protect his family, but he needs forged documents to get out of the United States.

THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS also stars Mira Sorvino as forger Meg Coburn. As Meg prepares John’s forged passport, killers come looking for him. A shootout ensues and Meg’s equipment is destroyed. John still needs to get out of the country and Meg becomes his unwilling accomplice as they both try to stay alive and prevent the assassination of John’s former target. Chow Yun-Fat is an engaging screen presence who I hope turns up in more (and better-written) American action movies. Oscar winner Mira Sorvino is an adventurous actress who is unafraid to tackle any genre; she carries off this action role with aplomb. The more I see of Sorvino, the more I come to like this beautiful and highly talented actress. Director Antoine Fuqua has beautifully staged the almost non-stop parade of action sequences in THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS, keeping them all fresh and well paced. Fuqua also makes the most of Chow Yun-Fat’s unequaled physical ability to turn gunplay into ballet. The cast of THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS also includes Michael Rooker, Kenneth Tsang and an almost completely wasted Jürgen Prochnow.

Columbia TriStar Home Video offers THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS in both wide screen and full screen presentations on opposite sides of the DVD. The full screen presentation ruins the film’s carefully composed action sequences, so stick with the wide screen version. The Letterboxed version of the film restores almost all of the film’s 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio and contains the anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. The transfer is a knockout. Details leap out at the viewer, as do the vibrant, well saturated colors. Digital compression artifacts were negligible.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack has an explosive mix, certain to give your system a workout. Gunshots whiz by from every direction and the film’s explosions resound with deep, full bass. Other soundtrack options include a matrixed Dolby Surround track, plus French and Spanish language tracks. Subtitles are available in English, Spanish and French.

The DVDs interactive menus offer access to a theatrical trailer plus a featurette.

THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS is a fun action flick certain to entertain fans of the genre, plus the DVD looks and sounds terrific. Recommended for action fans.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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