Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Replacement Killers

The Replacement Killers; Action, USA, 1998; D: Antoine Fuqua, S: Chow Yun-Fat, Mira Sorvino, Michael Rooker, Jürgen Prochnow, Til Schweiger

John Lee is a hired assassin who kills his newest victim in a disco bar. He works for the mobster Wei whose son was killed in a drug raid by police officer Zedkov, so he now wants Lee to assassinate him. But due to bad conscience, Lee doesn't kill Zedkov and thus has to now run away from the angry Wei and beg the blond Meg to make him a fake passport. The police storms in and destroys the office, while Lee runs away with her. The two of them become friends and stop two of Wei's assassins in a cinema theatre who wanted to gun down Zedkov and his son. Lee kills the killers, bodyguards and Wei himself, while Zedkov secretly lets him return back to his country.

The feature length debut film by Antoine Fuqua, who before directed only music spots, made a proportionally solid derivative action film that somehow gets lost under the influence of violent ideals of the Tarantino films of the 90s. Fuqua ocassionally displays excellent formal style, but due to mediocre story, pretentious manirisms and wooden characters without any special touch, "The Replacement Killers" fail at repeated vieweings because they lack deeper layers. Thus, despite suspensful action sequences (for instance, Til Schweiger plays an assassin whose suitcase fires bullets) the film as a whole turns out lethargic. The sequence where the assassins are trying to shoot police officer Zedkov and his son in the theatre while they are care free watching cartoon "Mr. Magoo" is full of anxiety, Mira Sorvino does her best in her narrow role, yet the pretentious touch of overkill can still be felt throughout the film. Chow Yun-Fat got a lot more subtle role 2 years later in the excellent drama "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon".


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