The Replacement Killers, released in 1998 was the first US film to showcase the talents of Asian moviegod Chow Yun-Fat
. The film is basically a reprise of John Woo
's Hong Kong heroic bloodshed
films that propelled Yun-Fat to stardom in Asia. This time Chow plays an assassin with a conscience, sent to California to perform a hit. But upon discovering the target is a 7 year old boy, he refuses to perform the deed. On the run
from both the police and his former employees, Chow teams up with forger Mira Sorvino
to defeat the bad guys and save the innocent.
The film suffers most from being exactly what it is - a hokey Hollywood imitation of an established foreign genre. Chow's charisma is diminished by his wrestling with the English tongue, but does manage to establish some chemistry with Sorvino. Director Antoine Fuqua handles the setpiece gunplay action scenes well without out ever managing to capture the balletic elegance of John Woo's The Killer or Hard Boiled.
The villains, led by Jurgen Prochnow do not do anything particularly original nor memorable aside from consistently failing to hit our heroes with their hundreds of bullets. Michael Rooker, handicapped by a weird beard, offers capable support (as always) as the good-hearted cop. This is probably worth an investigation by action fans or as an introduction to the career of Chow Yun-Fat. But if you aren't terrified by the idea of subtitles (assuming you don't speak Cantonese) then watch Hard Boiled instead.