The Replacement Killers Blu-ray Review
PictureThe Replacement Killers comes blasting to Blu-ray with a superior 1080p High Definition video rendition in the movie's original broad theatrical widescreen aspect ratio of 2.4:1. Detail is generally excellent throughout, with no noticeable softness, solid shaping with negligible edge enhancement and limited grain, most of which is probably intentional to give the movie that gritty crime feel. The colour scheme is quite broad and almost gaudy, with lots of blue and green neon lighting, and hot flashes from the bursts of gunfire. The healthy skin tones are portrayed accurately and, since this is quite a dark (or at least night-based) movie, we thankfully get solid and deep blacks to make up the omnipresent shadowing. Overall, whilst not quite up there with the benchmark visual presentations that some titles offer, it is a solid representation of a fun b-movie actioner, easily surpassing the visuals offered by the SD DVD release.
SoundTo match the superior video representation we get a particularly potent Uncompressed PCM 5.1 audio track that works wonders with such a hyper-ballistic soundtrack. The dialogue (from Mira's yelling to Chow's mangled American) is presented clearly and coherently, predominantly across the frontal array, and the fast-moving, beat-laden score (which is often fairly reminiscent of classic Luc Besson composer Eric Serra's scores) and superb dance tracks (by the likes of Death in Vegas and Tricky) works perfectly in line with the explosive material on offer. Talking of explosive, if you thought the score was presented well and gave the surrounds plenty to do, wait until you check out the depiction of the effects. There's a record number of bullets fired (which keeps it in line with the kind of bullet-count you would expect had Chow been paired with Woo once again) and every salvo bounces around the surrounds and kicks the LFE into motion. It's a super audio representation of quite a powerful soundtrack and I'm glad the studios stumped for the upgrade.
ExtrasThough we do get the Extended Cut of this movie, that does not really quality as an extra, per se, leaving the remaining two lonely extras distinctly unsatisfactory for fans of the movie, especially when you consider that this next-generation format disc should at least have some next-generation gimmickry on it (I guess BD-Java's still a bit of a WIP). The Making of The Replacement Killers: “Where the Action is” is a 10-minute promotional bit of fluff, intersplicing far too much footage from the movie itself with some brief and insubstantial archive soundbites from the main cast and crew members. They offer nothing particularly revealing about the production, often merely resorting to praising it for being so entertaining. It's real self-congratulatory nonsense. “Chow Yun-Fat goes Hollywood” takes twice as long just to praise Chow Yun-Fat alone, with cast and crew members from this movie, as well as other movies he has done, on hand to cheer Mr. Chow. Personally, I think he's a great actor, extremely charismatic and severely underused and underappreciated in Hollywood, but hearing John Woo and James Foley (who directed Chow in The Corruptor), along with those involved in The Replacement Killers wax lyrical about him just gets tedious after a while, especially when you consider the genuine insight all of these contributors could have offered as to Chow's (unfulfilled) potential in Hollywood. Finally we get three Trailers for other Blu-ray titles.
VerdictThe Replacement Killers is an enjoyable Hollywood homage to all the great John Woo efforts that master action star Chow Yun-Fat did before. It has neither the style or charm of its Hong Kong forerunners, nor does it give Chow the room to be as compelling as we have become accustomed to (in no small part thanks to his difficulty with the language). Still, in terms of bullets in the air and bodies on the floor, it's good fun and Chow spends most of his time with at least five handguns on his person, guaranteeing a certain inherent entertainment factor. On this Blu-ray release we get the Extended Cut of the movie (which, whilst not making it a classic, does add a little to the story), superior video and audio presentation, but some truly pitiful Extras that are really not worth your time. Fans will have to pick it up if only for the clearly improved technical specs, and newcomers who enjoy a good Chow Yun-Fat bullet-fest would do worse than look here, particularly if you're averse to subtitles. A guilty pleasure.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £17.95
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