"Replicant is a quality film that was shotdown before it could get off the ground."
- American Ninja
Director: Ringo Lam
Writer: Lawrence David, Les Weldon
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michael Rooker, Ian Robison, Catherine Dent, Dan Hyatt, Marnie Alton, James Hutson.
Running Time: 100 min.
Plot: Scientists create a genetic clone of a serial killer in order to help catch the killer, teaming up with two cops.
AMIR'S REVIEW: Ringo Lam, a once rising director is now reduced in making a film which looks so straight to cable-like, that the viewer literally blanks out every 15 minutes or so for a Macdonald's chicken sandwich commercial to come on. Shot on a very low budget, Van Damme gives an okay performance as the newborn clone, but his serial killer portrayal is completely laughable. This would have been a decent B rated movie, had the makers knew beforehand what kind of a film they wanted to make. A martial arts film or a serial killer film? These are two distinct categories that literally cannot mix. For it was Hannibal Lector's menacing look and intelligence that frightened the viewers, I doubt very much that Brett Ratner would have been so eager to insert Anthony Hopkins in the Manhunter rip off had Hopkins butterfly kicked people to death instead of eating them. Therefore, whenever the serial killer Van Damme starts punching people, any storyline, direction, or credibility that this film was so desperately trying to achieve is discarded like so much half chewed dollar menu special. This one certainly does not taste like chicken, more like the vegetarian substitute.
AMIR'S RATING: 3/10
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: "Replicant" certainly met my expectations after hearing for months how good Ringo Lam's direction was and also, how much Van Damme put into his performance in his 3rd, and hopefully, last time playing dual roles. On the other hand, you gotta give the guy some credit for being the first action star to conquer the art of acting out two parts - not only can it get confusing, but also very tough and challenging (think about it). Despite the number of sci-fi clone movies of the past, I still have to say that the plot of the "Replicant" is wholesome and original (I just got done watching a wheat bread commercial so I thought I'd throw that in). Lam's key action scenes are hard-edged as always and you can never really shout at the screen saying "yeah right...that's bullshit!" when you're watching his films.
I've never been a fan of Michael Rooker (which is probably due to the fact that I always think about that demented "Henry" movie he did every time I see his face) but he was perfectly cast and gave a solid and likeable performance. This is highly respectable because, most likely, he already knew he was in low-budget film starring along side a washed-out Van Damme, who has done nothing but give himself a bad reputation in the last few or so years. Sadly, most of the supporting cast appear to be nothing but a bunch of starving B-grade performers giving it their best. I gotta mention that the whole deal with the "prostitute" was a nice added touch.
With a more polished plot, a bigger budget and a few supporting actors (mainly those FBI guys or whatever they were) that can actually "act" , I feel that "Replicant" should have been Van Damme's first big hit since "Timecop". Too bad it got a sorry direct-to-video release when it deserved so much more (rumor has it that Artisan Films couldn't take a chance to finance the film theatrically due to their recent loss with "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2" which left the studio bankrupt after doing so poorly at the box office.) The only thing that can save this from being just another "Van Damme" movie is word-of-mouth. Overall, taking this role was a good move for Van Damme.
A note about the commentary included on the DVD: Van Damme gets the award for "The most laughably BAD commentary tracks for a movie". The guy treats it as if you're watching the movie for the first time as he comes in and out every five or so minutes to say something like: "I'll talk to you soon...for now, I'll let you have fun watching the Replicant....yeah!!!". On the other hand, Michael Rooker fills in the 5 minutes gaps (both appear on the same commentary track, but were done separately ) and gives some good insights worth listening to.
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S RATING: 7.5/10
GWAILO'S REVIEW: Ringo Lam returns to American soil in this dumb, straight-to-video (and deservedly so) effort. Plot is not worth the effort to describe. Only thing worse that one Van Damme is two, which we get here. On the plus side, his performance is mostly silent. Michael Rooker co-stars and is simply awful, delivering his poorly written dialogue like a barking dog. The entire cast wears their B-movie labels on their sleeves in this non-cohesive mess that make you giggle the whole way through. On the upside, though, is the great Ringo Lam. Although he fails to deliver us a good film he gets an A for effort, and packages enough action for 10 straight-to-video productions. The real star of this mess is Lam's action camera. His approach to action scenes rivals one of his contemporaries, Kirk Wong. Both directors run around like a bull in a China shop and deliver the goods in their action sequences. For the record I don't like Jean Claude Van Damme and hope he soon fades away and leaves us alone. Saying his name gives me acid-reflux. Replicant might have fared better with another actor, one who knows how to act and not speak with marbles in his mouth. The replicant of the title is so embarrassing to watch I had to cover my eyes. Oh, what garbage. Watching the film, I wondered if there is a clause in an Asian directors contract that bans the use of Asian talent in an American production. Ringo Lam, and the rest of us deserve much better. It's hard to watch one of your favorites make such crap. Look to his H.K. masterpieces for the real Lam. City on Fire, School on Fire, and Full Contact would be a good start.
GWAILO'S RATING: 3/10 (for Lam's action sequences)
AMERICAN NINJA'S REVIEW: After Van Damme hit rock bottom in "Universal Soldier II:The Return" it seemed like he'd be washed up forever and that he could never make a decent movie. Well guess what? Van Damme is back and better than ever! Replicant stars Van Damme as a killer nicknamed "The Torch" (played not so good by Van Damme), he has an apparent habit of lighting people up - causing scientists to whip up a clone who they call "Number One" (played rather well by Van Damme) and it's up to a hard boiled cop (Michael "Henry" Rooker) to babysit him. The only problem is that "Number One" has the mental capacity of a child. Although there isn't a ton of action, Replicant holds your attention long enough to be entertaining. Replicant would have been the comeback Van Damme has prayed for if it had gone theatrically, but since it went direct-to-video it probably will do little. Bottom Line: In the end Van Damme goes down to the ranks of Dolph Lundgren and Rutger Hauer and it's rather unfair because Replicant is a quality film that was shotdown before it could get off the ground.
AMERICAN NINJA'S RATING: 7.5/10