The Replacement Killers

7 out of 10


Masterpiece of Atmosphere

A deconstructionist nightmare of slaughter set in a cinematic masterpiece, "The Replacement Killers" follows hit man John Leeís struggle to survive against the might of the Chinese Mafia after refusing to do a revenge killing of a Policemanís son. His only help, a reluctant forger, played convincingly by Mira Sorvino.

Filmed in Culver City, it creates an overwhelming atmosphere of a brooding, grim, crime-filler underworld more effectively than any Sci-Fi flick and is all the more menacing for the fact that it is a real place. Aided by the haunting music of Tricky, it makes the dark side of Gotham City look as gang-ridden and menacing as Arnprior and the "Reservoir Dogs" is just a bad night at the Rotary Club by comparison.

Regrettably, though, Iím forced to admit that I was disappointed in many ways by the plot. For a start, the Replacement Killers themselves are, inadvertently portrayed as a couple of unimaginative, talent-free bozos who couldnít hit a barn door at ten paces without a cluster of laser-guided smart bombs - if gangster Wei paid more than a twoney for both, he was robbed. Indeed, even Wei`s own regular thugs, put on screen as cannon fodder, outperform these "professionals". Secondly, the tale is twistless. Despite all the interesting endings that could have been written into it, they missed every one. It gave the impression as the titles rolled up that the studio had saved money by sacking the scriptwriter, just before heíd had time to write the last 20 minutes of the movie.

Worth seeing, but donít expect a sequel

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett