The Replacement Killers Cover It is easy to replace things, right? You know, like a light bulb – an old dressing gown – or even a raggedy old cat? Though I suppose that this would all depend on the sentimental attachment behind what needs do be replaced, huh? And funny enough, this sentiment is mirrored in this film, Directed by Antoine Fuqua; and Starring: Chow Yun-fat, Mira Sorvino, and Michael Rooker. It was made in 1998, and lasts for 86 minutes.

The Replacement Killers

In downtown Shanghai, there are three very pissed off people.

  • Now the first person whom is pissed off is crime boss, Terence Wei (Kenneth Tsang) – because his drug smuggling son is killed by Detective Stan Zedkov (Michale Rooker), during a shady transaction.
  • The next person whom is pissed off is trained assassin, John Lee (Chow Yun Fat) – whom is reluctant to kill Stan at the bequest of Wei. 
  • And the final person who is pissed off is forger, Meg Coburn (Mira Sorvino) – because after John does not kill Stan, John approaches her to forge some documents for him, so that he can return back to his family in China. Resulting in a whole world of trouble for the both them.

And why is that? Well, Wei is annoyed with John for not carrying out his wishes, and so he repeatedly sends hit man after hit man to pop a cap in John’s ass due to his reluctance. Also, to make matters even worse, the police – including Stan – intervene in this relentless pursuit too: Firstly at Megs office. Secondly at a warehouse. And thirdly at an arcade as well.

Boy-oh-boy, John and Meg sure need some help with this, huh? So both of them form an uneasy alliance, and then go to two people to who may be able to help them out in this plight. The initial person whom helps them is a friendly monk – whom after being beaten half to death Wei’s men, tells John that Wei is going to kill his family in China, before giving him his passport with his dieing hand. The subsequent person whom helps them is once of Megs urban cohorts – whom gives them the firepower to fight back.

And do they fight back? Hell yes! As what then transpires is rewarding, emotional, and heart felt to boot – because bullets fly – people fall – people are saved – and ultimately a new dawn rises with a redemptive smile.

Now I have to admit, 'The Replacement Killers' is a film that I am slightly disappointed with, because it had so much positive momentum behind it. Initially, the lead actors – Chow, Mira, and Michael – are some of my favorite actors whom I love to watch. Next, I do like a good gangster film – as they are mostly always full of multi-facetted storylines, packed with action, depth, and plot. And finally, how can you go wrong with a gangster film set in Shanghai – one of the most atmospheric and nourish places on the face of the world? Well, this film has - please allow me to tell you why.

You see, I find on face value, that this is a one-note film. The pretext is a simple one to follow: Somebody dies – somebody else is told to enact revenge – that somebody else does not want to do it – anarchy ensures – stuff happens – and then the end, Kaput. Pretty simple pretext, right?

The Replacement Killers

However, the problem with all of this, is that it is too simple. Most of the exposition is relayed at the beginning of the film, and then the majority of the film ‘proper’, is full of action – action – action – and more action – with a little bit of tasteful nudity and back-story thrown in for good measure.

OK, I know that this might sound a tad harsh within the scheme of things, but it is a fact that more bullets fly in this film than words spoken. Heck, if there were an academy award for ‘more bullet to word ratio’, this film would win it without any trouble at all. Also, lets not forget that this film does suffer from one major flaw plot-wise – why doesn't the main gangster get someone else to kill whom he initially wanted to kill, instead of going after the guy who did not want to perform this action in the first place plus his reluctant accomplice? Silly, huh? And that’s one of the main problems – it’s silly pretext.

Chow and Mira in The Replacement Killers

Granted, on a more positive note, ‘The Replacement Killers’ does have some nice touches to it. As through the majority of this film, there is a very nice and contrasting nourish tone, highlighted with a depth in saturation and multi-coloured mood lighting. Plus, in addition to this, the lead actors – Chow, Mira, and Michael – are great to watch, and do lend this one dimensional film a presence and some added weight behind it.

Overall, however, ‘The Replacement Killers’ is what the ‘The Replacement Killers’ does – bang, pow, ting, tong, and plop – making what could have been a great film, into something that is basically a live action shoot-em-up game with legs on (nice Mira Sorvino legs, ggrrrr).

Sexy Mira in The Replacement Killers

Therefore, if you are a fan of films such as ‘Shoot ‘Em Up’ or ‘Hitman’, or alternately like to see Mira, Chow, and Michael run around and shooting at things, then this is a film for you.