The Replacement Killers (1998) - Extended Cut

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Drama / Thriller
Columbia || NR - 96 minutes - $19.94 || April 25, 2006
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2006-07-09


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer(s): Ken Sanzel (written by)
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Mira Sorvino, Michael Rooker, Jurgen Prochnow


Theatrical Release Date: February 6, 1998


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director's Commentary
  • HBO Making-of: Where the Action Is*
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Alternate Ending
  • Chow Yun-Fat Goes Hollywood*
  • Theatrical Trailers


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40), Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Note: Images presented in this review are from the Extended Cut.

Plot (from DVD back cover): After he betrays Mr. Wei, the ruthless crime boss who hired him to avenge his son’s death, professional killer John Lee (Yun-Fat) goes on the run. Enlisting the aid of beautiful document forger Meg Coburn (Sorvino), Lee attempts to return to his family in China before they are victimized by his betrayal. However, Wei’s army of “replacement killers” is hot on his trail, and now both he and Meg are targets of their impressive firepower...

Making his first appearance in American cinema, Chow Yun-Fat makes a grand entrance in a movie that quite frankly, isn’t all that well put together. For his part, Yun-Fat has some charisma and the lovely Mira Sorvino (Oscar winner) certainly makes the film at least bearable. The problem is, The Replacement Killers boils down to poor story and direction execution and not the acting (since movies like these don’t exactly need top notch thespians anyway).

One thing the movie does have going for it, though, is it must’ve set the world record for the number of spent shell casings. As a fan of your typical mindless action-ers (i.e. The Fast and the Furious, Swordfish and xXx, to name a few), I can’t begrudge Replacement Killers for some major firepower and a ton of dead bodies. I guess there lies why I enjoyed the film despite issues with the story; The Replacement Killers has that irresistible cool factor that makes nearly any sloppy script work.

In regards to whether this extended cut makes the film better than the theatrical version, I’d say overall, a little bit. Many added scenes are just characters talking about plot points we already know about thereby making it redundant. However, a couple extra scenes do add depth into each of the main characters’ back-story, and Meg’s (Sorvino) in particular was heart wrenching.

In all, if you’re seeing the movie for the first time, I don’t think you’ll think the movie is better, but for fans of the film who have seen it before, the new stuff is noticeable. We’re not talking about a new cut a la Lord of the Rings or Kingdom of Heaven, but there’s still something there...



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Unfortunately, they didn’t bother adding anything to this disc save for two featurettes… already available on the special edition (marked with an *). What, were people either unavailable and/or embarrassed to record new interview footage or commentary?

Director Commentary - Director Antoine Fuqua sits down and gives some insight into how he came aboard the project (his first one, before which he directed music videos and commercials), working with Yun-Fat and Sorvino and other minor trivia. For the most part, the track is dry listening and needed someone else in there to spur on more lively conversation.

*Chow Yun-Fat Goes Hollywood (19:40) - A long featurette with archive interview footage with various cast and crew talking about how big Yun-Fat is in China and his making his way to Hollywood, plus the differences in making a movie in Hong Kong versus Los Angeles or New York City.

*The Making of The Replacement Killers (9:38) - This HBO making-of featurette is standard fare that does not go into much depth about how scenes were shot and really the casting process. I don’t expect much from these but given the amount of gun play, they’d have something on that.

Deleted/Extended Scenes - Four of these are extended while one is a true deleted scene and all but maybe one are put back into the extended cut. Thankfully, unlike A Knight’s Tale, the new cut does have footage not included here.

Alternate Ending - Nothing really changed other than Chow Yun-Fat shows his appreciation to Mira Sorvino at the end by kissing here before walking off down the airport terminal.

There are also theatrical trailers and previews for this and other Sony releases. EXTENDED/DELETED SCENES

I tried to keep the descriptions short and to the point so you will see a lot of the same words used. All beginning times and duration are estimates. Times in parentheses (ex: 1:46 is one minute, 46 seconds or 0:20 is 20 seconds; start times are as this HOUR: MINUTES: SECONDS). Also, there are some SPOILERS within.

0:16:20 - Extra couple lines of dialogue (0:16)
0:16:50 - Extra shot: Wei watching daughter-in-law/grandson (0:09)
0:17:18 - Eddie chews out his crew (0:26)
0:21:09 - Alternate/Extended take: Meg explains what she needs (0:25)
0:27:24 - Extra lines in police interrogation room (0:13)
0:28:10 - Extra line (NA)
0:29:08 - Extra line (NA)
0:29:19 - Extra line (NA)
0:29:39 - Extra line (0:09)
0:30:47 - Extra line (0:06)
0:34:54 - New scene: Meg asks John why he’s in trouble with Mr. Wei; Meg tries to escape (1:22)
0:46:10 - Extended scene: One replacement killer looks menacingly at a little girl (0:38)
0:47:26 - Alternate scene/shots: John explains situation; some more background (4:04)
0:52:31 - New scene: Replacement killers introduced to Wei/Meg and John talk, more background (1:46)
1:01:56 - Extended scene: Bad buy complains, while on stakeout, to hurt the kid if he turned on the blender one more time. Graphic/cruel dialogue. (0:23)
1:04:55 - Extended scene: John lashes out after Alan dies. (0:09)
1:05:40 - Extended scene: Meg’s background, brother abused by step-father (1:56)
1:20:23 - Extended scene: John (basically) admits he cares for Meg (0:04)



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Sound: Both features have the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that sounds all right with bullets flying around every 5 seconds, but a movie like this would’ve benefited from a DTS track as well.

Picture: Here’s where things get interesting as I had not only both editions but the 1998 one, in front of me. I took screen caps of the same scene on each disc and made a composite to see any differences between transfers. Going from the 1998 to 2001 versions, I noticed the coloring was softer but still looked great (an upgrade) but from 2001 to 2006, for some reason it the colors were washed out. In this extended cut, faces that had warmth and colorful background both lost some intensity.

Also of interest, the old transfer was in the original 2.35 aspect ratio whereas this is now 2.40 (I imagine to properly fit the new scenes).

You can take a look at a comparison image of all three different versions here.



.::OVERALL::.

If you like these shoot-em-up action flicks that have little regard for story, then Replacement Killers is for you. The extended cut presents some actual character depth lost theatrically so it is at least a worthwhile viewing. Personally, on the technical front, the original transfer was better to look at and it would’ve been nice if they carried that over here. But, if you can find this disc cheap ($10 or less), then go ahead and pick it up.