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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Replicant (2001)

"Three years trying to catch me. But you failed. You're a bad cop. Do you think quitting will stop me? I'm going to keep on killing, a**hole. You're a real loser."
- Jean-Claude Van Damme

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: October 19, 2001

Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michael Rooker
Other Stars: Catherine Dent, Ian Robison
Director: Ringo Lam

MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language, and some sexuality
Run Time: 01h:39m:58s
Release Date: October 16, 2001
UPC: 012236119944
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B CA-A- C+

DVD Review

I will admit up front to NOT having seen every Jean-Claude Van Damme film ever made. I guess that would make me a casual fan of the so-called "Muscles from Brussels." I've seen a few of his films, like Timecop, Hard Target and the infamous Bloodsport. My overall general lack of interest in Van Damme has done little to diminish his worldwide marquee value, especially in the straight-to-video market, since his first film in 1984. When it comes to second-rate, action film stars, Jean-Claude certainly fills the bill. He's got the muscles, the accent, the moves. No doubt about it, the guy seems to have what it takes to be an action star.

Prolific Hong Kong action director Ringo Lam, who worked with Van Damme on the 1996 release Maximum Risk, once again teamed up with him in 2001's Replicant. Ironically, the general plot of both films feature the muscle-bound star in dual roles. While the former had Van Damme assuming the identity of his dead twin brother, Replicant moves across more traditional sci-fi boundaries, with Jean-Claude actually becoming the clone of himself.

Here he plays a nasty serial killer known simply as The Torch. He received his cute nickname because he has the irritating habit of murdering young mothers and setting their bodies on fire. Raspy-voiced Michael Rooker is Detective Jake Reilly, the man who has been unsuccessfully pursuing The Torch doggedly for three years. After an opening sequence that features a brutal murder, fire, children in peril and a cool, but fruitless, chase on foot, Detective Reilly is contacted by a pair of agents from the mysterious National Security Foundation. It seems that the NSF has been able to clone The Torch, and have been able to successfully grow a "Replicant" (fancy talk for a clone) which they hope will eventually lead them to The Torch.

In typical goofy movie logic, Reilly is put in charge of the Replicant, and the film then shifts into a sort of twist on the "buddy picture". Can the detective who was unable to track down The Torch be able to work with a clone of the killer? Will the clone be good or evil? Will there be a climactic fight scene between The Torch and the Replicant? Hmmmm. I wonder...

In all honesty, this film looks very good, and has an often creepy visual style. Mike Southon's cinematography during the flashback scenes has a nice, disturbing feel to it, and he makes effective use of shadows to heighten the mood. The "birth" sequence looks impressive, with Van Damme bursting forth from a wonderfully over-elaborate chamber covered in slimy gunk. Unfortunately, there is far too little of that, and far too many uninspired fight sequences that only seem to slow things down. If you enjoy men kicking each other—endlessly—then this might be the film for you.

Van Damme, in his dual role mode, doesn't have to work too hard to separate the two characters. The evil Torch, with his greasy black hair, sunglasses and leather jacket, is the antithesis of the short-haired, innocent Replicant, who looks just like regular ol' Jean-Claude Van Damme. One of the problems, conceptually, with Replicant is the whole clone process. The movie is inconsistent with what he knows, or needs to learn, and he seems to go from monosyllabic utterings and staring in amazement at an ice-cream cone, to staging an elaborate fight sequence where by he spins and flips like a crazed gymnast.

This is a Van Damme movie. That should tell you all you need to know.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Artisan has issued Van Damme's latest in a very solid 1.85:1 widescreen anamorphic transfer. My expectations of image quality were admittedly very low going into this, and I will gladly confess to genuine shock. This print is virtually nick free, with only a few noticeable specks in the film's final reel. Colors are rich, and remain strong and bright for the duration. Flesh tones look completely natural, too. The big plus point here is the surprising quality of the black levels. which provide excellent shadow delineation and contrast. This is especially evident during the eerie flashback sequences.

Artisan has delivered a beautiful image transfer here.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: While the film itself may have been less than memorable, the audio tracks supplied by Artisan give this disc a big shot in the arm. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, the real star here, makes full use of all available channels, and is a near constant barrage of rear channels cues. Nice directional imaging, as well, which during the sequences where the Replicant is having "visions" are particularly effective. The Guy Zerafa score sounds perfectly intense, and also benefits greatly from the enhanced dynamic range of the mix. Rooker's raspy voice comes across crystal clear, too. This is the kind of mix that makes a second-rate film sound like a big-budget epic.

While it pales in comparison to the 5.1, the 2.0 mix is an adequate audio track on its own. Obviously a bit thin, this track still manages to make do with less punch.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 19 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
8 Deleted Scenes
Storyboard
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Michael Rooker, Jean-Claude Van Damme
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: Artisan has included a just-barely-more-than-minimal amount of supplementals on Replicant. The disc includes:

Commentary
Poor Michael Rooker. He's not even listed on the DVD case as a commentary participant, and he dominates the thing. Rooker and Van-Damme (recorded separately, I believe) provide scene-specific comments on the film, though Rooker clearly is the primary voice. Van-Damme's comments seem to be inserted here and there, and quite frankly, his input was not all that fascinating. On the other hand, Rooker seems to be having a fine time chatting aimlessly about the production, though very little relevant info surfaces.

Storyboard
Storyboard and text layouts of two scenes, with the Replicant's "birth" sequence taking up 99% of the images.

Deleted Scenes
A total of eight deleted scenes, still in work print format. Image quality is a bit grainy, and like most deleted scenes, there is little here that would have enhanced the final product.

Photo Gallery
A gallery of nine images of charred corpses from the film. Very odd. Not one Van Damme photo in the bunch.

A widescreen theatrical trailer, Spanish subtitles, cast/crew bios, a one-page insert written by Ringo Lam, and 19 chapter stops wrap up the Replicant bonus materials.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Replicant could have been a much better film. Visually, it has some very nice moments. However, the plot, which had the potential to be much more eerie, never really advances to anything other than simply being another Van Damme film.

 


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