The American film debut of Asian superstar Chow Yun-Fat is this for-genre-fans-only affair that mimics the balletic violence and two-dimensionally flat characters of the Hong Kong school while adding comic book style visual panache. There's clearly an enormous effort being made to create a slick, compelling surface here and indeed director Antoine Fuqua, along with producer John Woo, has devised a kinetic, nonstop action flick that should score points with martial arts buffs. The significant drawback of action flicks in general, however, is a serious lack of believable, psychologically authentic characters. This artistic Achilles' heel is keenly pertinent here in a script that swaps sharp one-liners for growth or development. By the time the story punches through its climactic final battles, viewers who expect some steak with their sizzle may be notably disappointed, finding their energy for and interest in the story crushed flat under the weight of dashed expectations. For audiences that want nothing more than a dazzling thrill ride and don't give two shakes about suspension of disbelief or identifying with somebody onscreen, The Replacement Killers (1998) will be a welcome experience.
by Karl Williams review