Replicant [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Andreas Petersen (4th October 2009).
The Film

The movie "Replicant," directed by Ringo Lam, is hard to peg. The movie has elements that I like as well as elements that just do absolutely nothing for me. Iím continuously surprised at how un-exciting many of Jean-Claude Van Dammeís movies are, and donít even approach any sort of enjoyment level. I always lumped Van Damme, Stallone, and Arnold together when it came to ďbad action moviesĒ, but with the latter, I think the movies are incredibly watchable. However, after "Replicant," "Universal Soldier" (1992) and "Street Fighter" (1994), I can see why Van Damme was considered the joke he was.

Donít get me wrong, I love Van Damme, but especially in "JCVD" (2008), which I think was one of the best movies that came out last year. In fact, with every bad Van Damme movie I watch, I appreciate "JCVD" a little more. He wasnít just some campy action hero who threw saw blades through bad guysí heads ala "Commando" (1985), but was in legitimately terrible movies. However, the self reflection displayed in "JCVD" forces one to look at each and everyone of his movies as a character study of the man, rather than a film itself. Iím glad that Van Damme has moved away from doing what he used to do.

That doesnít changed the fact, however, that "Replicant" is a very dull and boring movie, save for one action sequence near the end. The story, which Iím not sure whether is some sort of prequel to "Blade Runner" (1982) or not, involves officer Jake Riley (Michael Rooker), and his quest to hunt down the sadistic serial killer The Torch (Jean-Claude Van Damme). The Torch targets single mothers, cuts them up, then burns their bodies. Jake has been on the case for a while, and he and The Torch play a typical game of cat and mouse, all up until Jakeís retirement. The Torch calls Jake at home to taunt him, telling that heíll never stop killing. All of a sudden, Jake is contacted by a secret government faction, telling that they need his help grooming a clone of The Torch, or a Replicant (Jean-Claude Van Damme), that they are going to use to catch the serial killer.

One of the main problems the movies presents is that it is never really clear what is going on in terms of the plot. The narrative never really offers why characters do the things they do, why they are going to places they are going to, and how exactly everyone is connected. Jake would be at the police station doing something, and I would be disoriented as to why he was there. It wasnít until the close of every scene I would get some sort of idea as to what was happening, and that offers a very bumpy narrative ride.

But maybe Iím looking too much into the movieís flimsy plot, and focus on the action. Sadly, I wasnít too impressed in this department either. The thing is, the action wasnít that bad, it just missed all the right beats. In action movies, I think thereís a science as to how things should progress, and there is usually one course that needs to be taken. After this punch, he has to kick, then do a flip, and then swing around the pole at exactly the right pace. "Replicant" had all the right moves, just none of the style, and even scenes that would otherwise be decent came off as dull. I must clarify that there is one exceptional chase sequence near the end that made me pay attention, but other than that, I didnít have anything to go off of.

Then thereís the acting, the directing, the writing, the score, and everything else a movie is made of. None of these things are terrible, but like the action, they just seem too normal. The film doesnít pop where it needs to, and in the end just came off flat, and when it was over, I was glad. When it comes to Jean-Claude Van Damme, Iím going to stop looking backwards, and only look to the future.

Video

"Replicant" is offered in a 1080p 24/fps widescreen 1.78:1 transfer mastered in AVC MPEG-4 compression, and I hate to sound like a broken record, but I can compare the video quality to the action. The picture itself looks OK, and is surprisingly clear at times with no noise whatsoever, but the filmís overall look is just so ďblahĒ that itís hard to get excited about what Iím watching. The movie takes place in my hometown of Seattle, and looks even a little too gray. This transfer on a more exiting, better looking movie, would have popped.

Audio

"Replicant" is offered in an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track mixed at 48kHz/24-bit, and unlike the other features of the disc, thereís nothing normal about this audio transfer: itís downright not good. This is probably one of the most muddled transfers I have heard on a Blu Ray in all my time reviewing them. The sounds are just mixed together instead of having their own space in the movie. There were times where I felt like the score was overshadowing all the sounds coming from my system, and other times everything just clashed together instead of working together. A disappointing listen.
Subtitles are offered in English, English for the hearing impaired and Spanish.

Extras

"Replicant" features an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, storyboards, picture gallery, and one bonus trailer. They are detailed below:

First up is the audio commentary track featuring stars Jean-Claude Van Damme and Michael Rooker. I thought this would be a good opportunity to have the co-stars joke around, but Iím not sure if they are even recording their commentaries at the same time. Rooker does most of the talking, and he doesnít really seem to care that much about the movie, and seems to have a very faux-enthusiasm for the project. When Van Damme does talk, I was disappointed to hear him talk about the movie as though it were legitimately good. I guess I canít judge the guy to not trashing the movie, but this film is the sort of stuff being mocked in "JCVD".

Next up are a set of eight deleted scenes. All the scenes are presented in a very low-quality picture, looking like that bootleg copy of the "Mulholland Drive" TV show pilot I definitely donít have. The scenes themselves are pretty dull, and do nothing to add to the film, or to my film consciousness for that matter. The scenes are:

- "Heat of the Torch" running for 1 minutes and 42 seconds, and is just an extension of The Torchís first murder in the film.
- "Party" running for 4 minutes and 7 seconds, is an extension of Jakeís retirement party, and here the audience gets a small clue into his back story.
- "Aler" running for 4 minutes and 37 seconds, in which the 30 second replicant birthing scene is somehow nearly turned into 5 minutes of footage.
- "Fruit Break" running for 33 seconds, in which the replicant tries to eat some free food off a street cart.
- "Family Life" running for 2 minutes and 28 seconds, in which Jake moves his mother into his old partnerís (Catherine Dent) house.
- "Jail Time" running for 2 minutes and 51 seconds, in which Jake catches up with his old partner while the replicant is in jail.
- "In the Heat of the Moment" running for 2 minutes and 19 seconds, in which Jake shows romantic feelings for his old partner.
- "Electronic Leash" running for 1 minute and 18 seconds, in which the government tracks the replicateís movements, and offers an extended take on the filmís last shot.

Also offered is a storyboard gallery and picture gallery. The storyboards are sort of interesting, offering a glimpse into the birthing scene and some action scenes and feature 41 images, and the picture gallery offers a closer look at The Torchís victims and features 9 images.

Also included is a bonus trailer for "Punisher: War Zone," which runs for 1 minute and 38 seconds. I never usually comment on a disc's trailers, but man, this trailer kicked so much ass, Iím going to go buy this movie as soon as I finish this review. At least Lionsgate got something out of me watching "Replicant."

Overall

The Film: C- Video: B- Audio: D+ Extras: C Overall: C-

 


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