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The day before he retires, Seattle police detective Jake Riley almost captures The Torch, a notorious serial killer who preys on single women. After this incident, Riley is offered a job with the National Security Force. They take Riley to a top-secret science lab, where they have cloned an exact copy of the Torch from a sample of his DNA. The clone, called Replicant, shares Torch's physique as well as his telepathic abilities. As the Torch's genetic double, Replicant can instinctively lead the authorities to his other half. But before Replicant can be used effectively, he needs to be taught simple human behavior, such as speech and movement. Riley is assigned to look after Replicant and train him on the streets of the city. But when it comes time to set Replicant loose on the trail of the Torch, Riley can't be sure whose side this genetic clone will ultimately be on.
For more about Replicant and the Replicant Blu-ray release, see Replicant Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on August 19, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michael Rooker, Catherine Dent
Director: Ringo Lam
» See full cast & crew
Replicant Blu-ray Review
If you ever want to see Van Damme hoarding toilet paper, here’s your chance.
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, August 19, 2009
Jean-Claude Van Damme quickly became a household name following his impressive physical performance in the 1988 film, Bloodsport. Building an impressive resume throughout the early 1990's, it appeared Van Damme was an unstoppable force with a loyal fan following. Unfortunately, just like most aging action stars, he ran into his own share of problems in his personal life and his public persona took noticeable hit as a result. In recent years, Van Damme joined a growing list of promising action stars who still find work as a bankable element in low-budget films that only see the light of day through repeat showings on cable television. He certainly deserves a better fate than Steven Seagal (there's just something about slap-fighting that fails to impress), but Van Damme eventually became a product of mediocrity, taking role after role in films that didn't allow him room to breathe as an actor. Lost credibility is difficult to get back, but the master of splits may have a few tricks left up his sleeve, as evidenced in his recent film JCVD. Unfortunately, I'm not here to discuss the film that could mark his return, but rather take a look at one of his many marginal films, the 2001 release titled Replicant.
Jake Riley (Michael Rooker) is an aging detective with the Seattle Police Department, who's spent the latter portion of his career tracking down an elusive serial killer known as "The Torch" (Jean-Claude Van Damme). On his final night before retirement, Riley comes face to face with his nemesis while responding to a blazing apartment housing the latest victim of The Torch. After failing to apprehend the murderer, and several taunting phone calls, Riley joins a secretive government organization who cloned The Torch with a piece of DNA found at a prior crime scene. Riley agrees to babysit the clone in an effort to draw out his counterpart, but unfortunately, the cloned version has the knowledge and IQ of a small child. Thankfully, the clone and his reluctant elder soon discover he's telepathically linked to the original murderous copy, and a game of cat and mouse takes shape between the long-time enemies. Caught in the middle of his fragile friendship with Riley and feelings of brotherhood with The Torch, the replicant must decide where his loyalty lies before the next charred victim is found dead.
If you're in the mood for a routine, brainless action outting, Replicant will probably fit the bill nicely. It can be a bit difficult at times to witness the mistreatment of the clone at the hands of Riley and there are some HUGE gaps in logic throughout the length of the film, but as soon as you get past those two problems, there's a decent number of positives to take away from the experience. I might see pitchforks ascending my driveway for saying this, but Van Damme turns in a surprisingly good performance for an action star. Playing two roles that differ drastically from one another is never an easy feat, but he demonstrates an ability to do much more than just kick and punch his way through hordes of bad-guys (though there's a fair share of that as well). I've never seen him take on a villainous role, but his seething disregard for everyone around him is exactly the maniacle twist we'd expect from a serial killer who sets fire to young mothers. Kicking his way through innocent women or using elderly men as shields may be in poor taste to some viewers, but that only adds to dislike we already have for the character. In his role as the replicant, Van Damme plays a grown man with the mind and emotions of an infant. His innocence coupled with animalistic outbursts is spot on from an acting standpoint and may win him newfound respect from the naysayers that labelled him a pretty face with amazing roundhouse kicks. I'm not saying he deserved an Academy Award or anything, but you'll have to ask yourself if you could picture Steven Seagal or Wesley Snipes filling the role as the replicant.
I'm happy to see Michael Rooker continuing to find work, but remain disappointed that the underappreciated actor can't land a role in better films. It's always sad to see talented, hard-working actors continually shunned by big-budget productions and relegated to roles that never foster their true potential. Regardless, Rooker does a decent job in his role as detective Riley, though I wish the writers had toned down his abusive nature toward the replicant. As it stands, I found it difficult to root for Riley or The Torch after witnessing Riley continually manhandle or beat the person he's entrusted with the care of.
More than anything else, the reason to watch Replicant is the action and stuntwork, which appears to be Ringo Lam's claim to fame. Directing Hong Kong action films since 1983, Lam eventually moved on to multiple collaborations with Van Damme between 1996 and 2003, which were all met with dreary box-office success. What Lam does bring to the mix here, is the trademark Hong Kong stuntwork that no American Insurance companies would likely accept liability for. There's an early chase scene with a stunt that involves Riley climbing a fence just prior to the fence being plowed into by a car driven by The Torch. I can't guarantee there wasn't CG added to the scene, but the shot of the stuntman bouncing end over end along the roof of the car was so incredible I had to rewind it twice to confirm whether my eyes deceived me. Likewise, an apartment explosion around the halfway point of the film sends a stuntman flying across a staircase and smacking into a wall with incredible force. Both scenes were either well-choreographed visual tricks, or a guaranteed ticket to the local hospital. Either way, the action in Replicant is worth the price of admission, and allows ample reason to revisit the film on multiple viewings.
Replicant Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p utilizing the AVC codec (at an average bitrate of 14Mbps), Replicant possesses a largely impressive video transfer with the exception of one critical element. The aspect I'm referring to is the appearance of excessive brightness boosting throughout the length of the film, which severely impacts the depth of black levels and lead to contrast issues from time to time (a good example is the warehouse scene around the 26 minute mark). Naturally, the color spectrum is also altered by the white-level boosting, leading to some less-than-stellar skin tones and hues that lack proper richness. On the positive side, fine object detail is incredibly clear throughout the majority of the film, revealing textures in clothing and glistening drops of sweat on the forehead of Rooker or Van Damme. I didn't detect the presence of edge halos, artifacting, aliasing, or other issues in the encoding of the transfer, but you should be aware there are several flashback sequences that contain a thick layer of grain (a fully intentional element of the source material). Most fans of the film will likely find this a worthy upgrade with the transition to high-definition, provided you can get past the overly bright attributes of the transfer.
Replicant Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Continuing with their impressive track record of including a lossless audio mix on budget-conscious catalog releases, Lionsgate delivers a highly proficient DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that incorporates every speaker in your home theater. There are plenty of opportunities for the audio track to shine and it rarely disappoints as long as you approach the production with the understanding that this isn't an expensive Hollywood action film. From the whizzing of bullets to the shattering of glass, every effect is well-placed in the soundfield and afforded an excellent level of clarity. Continuing with positive trends, the dialogue, music and effects are well balanced without any singular element overpowering another. My only real complaint about the overall audio experience isn't related to the technical merits of the Blu-ray track, but might be of interest to those considering a purchase. Despite accepting this as a low-budget action flick, I was surprised by the generic musical choices that sounded like transplants from productions of the early 80's. Additionally, the dialogue felt a bit disjointed with the onscreen action, though it appeared to be a result of post-production recording rather than an issue with the timing in the DTS track on the disc. Aside from those minor complaints, I'm more than happy with the audio offering on the disc.
Replicant Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Deleted Scenes (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 19:56 min): There isn't much in this collection that deserved a spot in the film, but I suppose fans will still find the rough footage interesting enough for one viewing.
The only other extras on the disc are an audio commentary with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Michael Rooker, a lengthy collection of storyboards focusing on the scene with the replication sac, a morbid photo gallery with pictures of charred bodies, and a high-definition trailer for Punisher: War Zone.
Replicant Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you're a fan of Jean-Claude Van Damme and unsure about the merits of Replicant, I have no problem recommending this as an addition to your Blu-ray collection. The plot and production values never approach the typical proficiency of higher budget action films, but as long as you understand that prior to viewing Replicant, you'll probably come away with an opinion that mirrors mine. From a technical standpoint, this is another winner from Lionsgate and likely a decent step up from the DVD version of the film. To conclude, I'm giving this a lukewarm recommendation, which is partially based on the impressively low retail price for a newly-released catalog title.
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Replicant Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Lionsgate Wave Gets Detailed - May 21, 2009
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has announced the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'The Haunting in Connecticut', which is due to hit store shelves on July 14th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Additionally, they have announced ...
• Lionsgate Blu-ray Catalog Wave for August - May 19, 2009
In an early announcement to retailers, Lionsgate Home Entertainment has revealed that it will bring five titles from its catalog to Blu-ray Disc on August 11: 'Chaos', 'Cutthroat Island', 'The Ninth Gate', 'Replicant', and 'See No Evil'. No audio or video specifications ...
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