Reviewed January 3rd, 2002 by David Nusair
There is one unintentionally hilarious moment in Replicant that pretty much makes the entire thing worth watching: Van Damme has cornered his double in a crowded restaurant kitchen, and is plowing his way through the various cooks and waiters that are in his way. Just before he arrives at the double, a rebel waiter decides to try and defend himself with…a spatula! Needless to say, Van Damme drop-kicks this idiot to oblivion.
Replicant casts Van Damme in two roles, a gimmick that’s nothing new for the actor (remember those commercials for Double Impact? “Double the Van Dammage!”). Van Damme #1 is a vicious serial killer that preys on single mothers (and their children). Van Damme #2 is a genetic clone of Van Damme #1 – the idea being that Van Damme #2 will tell the detectives working the case what Van Damme #1 will do next. Assigned to the clone is retired cop Michael Rooker, who’s been on the case for several years (and just as you might expect, Van Damme #1 has been taunting Rooker with a series of phone calls).
Replicant is part action flick, part fish-out-of-water story – with the Van Damme clone unable to speak english or perform basic tasks (though he is still able to do the splits at the drop of a hat). The majority of the movie finds Rooker teaching the clone the ways of the world, with the occasional ass-kicking thrown in for good measure. And unlike the majority of Van Damme’s flicks as of late, the action sequences are coherent and exciting. Lately, he’s been hooking up with directors more interested in creating a stylish atmosphere rather than intelligible fight scenes (Tsui Hark’s Knock-Off being the most appalling example). But here, director Ringo Lam allows Van Damme to do his thing, and generally eschews camera trick – instead allowing Van Damme the opportunity to do what he does best (kicking ass, in case you were wondering).
Replicant doesn’t even come close to some of Van Damme’s better flicks (Timecop and Sudden Death), but it’s certainly an improvement over what he’s been up to lately.
Audio: Replicant’s 5.1 DD soundtrack is surprisingly effective, given that it’s a straight-to-video flick (it probably helps that it was intended for theatrical distribution). Spatial effects are prominent and often quite impressive, as in the sequence set in a factory. With hisses and pops surrounding you, it really does feel as though you’re there. The dialogue is crisp and clean, so this is an all-around great sounding disc.
Video: Ditto the 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer. This is a dark movie, with most scenes taking place in factories or dank hospital rooms. But Artisan’s done a great job here, with nary an artifact in sight. In fact, this is probably one of the cleanest dark-looking movies since Dark City (which is still the standard for dimly-lit flicks).
Extras: Though only Van Damme is listed, Michael Rooker also appears on a commentary track. The two were recorded separately, with Rooker the primary speaker. Van Damme will pop up every now and then to lay praise on the director, but it’s Rooker who provides the meat and potatoes worth of information. He proves to be a very interesting guy to listen to, and provides a lot of cool little tidbits. Next up are eight deleted scenes – none of which really add anything vital to the storyline. However, there is one scene in which Van Damme eats a banana – peel and all – which is very similar to a sequence in K-PAX. Odd. Finally, there’s some storyboard stuff, a photo gallery and a theatrical trailer.
Conclusion: Replicant is a step in the right direction for Van Damme, and should please his fans.
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