The Replacement Killers (film review) | Gregory McNamee

The Replacement Killers (film review)


Where executive producer John Woo’s Hong Kong action films register triple-digit deaths with many thousands of bullets fired, this gringo homage, directed by Antoine Fuqua, manages a mere 32 fatalities, making Replacement Killers a marvel of understatement. It’s all about family values: a hard-boiled cop (Michael Rooker) kills the sneering son of very bad guy Mr. Wei (Kenneth Tsang) in a bust gone sour. The mighty Chow Yun-Fat, the perennial hero of Woo’s best films, is sent to dispatch the cop’s kid as payback. But Yun-Fat’s John Lee, a lean and mean assassin, suffers a fit of conscience—he’s a loving dad in his off hours—and calls off the mayhem. Hounded by Mr. Wei’s backup assassins, he falls in with a gun-toting forger with a heart of gold, a character nicely played by Mira Sorvino’s expressive underwear. Jurgen Prochnow and Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez vie for the role of evildoer with the worst complexion, while Yun-Fat looks mostly amused as he dances through mad acts of car-wash fu, fire-escape fu, and movie-within-a-movie fu.

The world exists in order to be made into a book.      – Stéphane Mallarmé