Replicant (2001)
By: Devon B. on June 23, 2012  | 
Columbia Tristar | Region 4, PAL | 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 5.1 | 96 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Ringo Lam
Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michael Rooker, Catherine Dent
Screenplay: Lawrence David Riggins, Les Weldon
Country: USA
External Links
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When I picked up Replicant, I thought it was odd that the cover said it was from the director of Maximum Risk. Yeah, Ringo Lam may have directed that one too, but what about mentioning Full Contact or, I dunno, City on fucking Fire – the movie that became the international cult sensation Reservoir Dogs? I guess since Maximum Risk was also a movie where Jean-Claude Van Damme played two roles it almost makes sense to draw the comparison, but seriously, how could anyone decide to mention that over City on Fire?

Replicant quickly introduces the viewer to a killer named The Torch, Van Damme in a terrible wig. The Torch is in the process of murdering a single mother and her child, but gets interrupted by the police, lead by Michael Rooker. Rooker chases The Torch and loses him, then retires at the end of the chase to repair boats. Really, that's what happened. The Torch doesn't want the game of cat and mouse to end, so he taunts Rooker, and Rooker gets drawn back in when a secret agency informs him they've come up with an unorthodox method to catch the killer. Since the killer has been hard to catch, the agency has decided, naturally, to use his DNA to create a replicant of him. Developed as a counter-terrorism measure, this is the project's test run. The replicant, also played by Van Damme but out of his terrible wig, gets some brief life training, then is dressed like a goober and away he goes with Rooker. Rooker seems to think the replicant is The Torch, but then it turns out the replicant shares some memories with The Torch that were ingrained in the DNA used to clone him, so maybe Rooker was onto something. Rooker is kind of like Fritz to Van Damme's Frankenstein's monster, and treats him like shit, but he still uses him to try and track The Torch.

I admit, I don't really understand the plan here. There's mention that the replicant can't become public knowledge, but why can't they do a police sketch or something based on him and use that to try and identify the killer? Or take a somewhat obscured photo? I'm sure they could've put something on Crime Stoppers without blowing the replicant's cover. Also, what's up with this replicant guy? He's been giving telepathic abilities so he can learn about life quicker, but then they really only seem to work in connection with The Torch. The Torch also seems to sense the replicant, so maybe it's not an overall telepathic ability but rather a psychic bond between the two since they're the same person? I wonder if Dolly the sheep had that going on? She might've been busy eating some grass when suddenly she got an image of what her clone was up to. That would've been confusing. I mean, Rooker's on hand to help explain it to this replicant, but who would be able to explain that to a sheep? Dolly was probably distressed all the time! This is a moral aspect to animal cloning that I don't think has ever been raised, so kudos to the makers of Replicant for drawing attention to it.

The film is okay far-fetched nonsense with a few nice style touches, but I can't recommend it to Van Damme fans. It's about half way in before he does any martial arts, and that doesn't even amount to much. Eventually we get to the inevitable fight between Van Dammes, but most of the action on display is seeing Van Damme's double do gymnastics. The production values are decent, but the performances make the movie feel low rent. Almost everyone is wooden, and film has a slightly odd feel to it. I realise I'm saying a movie about a clone tracking a serial killer is slightly odd, but what I mean is there's a sense that the filming or editing isn't quite right. Rooker probably won't win an Oscar anytime soon, but he can give a solid performance with the right direction, and even Van Damme is flatter than usual. Van Damme's learning scenes, which include awkward moments of him being afraid of a toilet, are just painful to watch, and it's never explained why the replicant has the same accent as The Torch if he's learning English from scratch.

Replicant isn't awful, but it's not Van Damme, Lam or Rooker's best. The biggest question is why Fear Factory's song "Replica" wasn't licensed, given most of the lyrics fit perfectly with the movie…
This appears to be an early DVD so I was bit worried, but the quality wasn't bad at all. The picture is clean, if a little soft at times, and there were a few specks and a bit of edge enhancement, but that was pretty much it for faults.
The audio isn't quite as strong. The dialogue is mixed a bit too quiet, so I had to turn the sound up, then I got loud sound FX. The rears are used suitably to give the impression of being surrounded by fire, explosions or rain. There is some ADR, which I think contributed to the oddness of the movie mentioned before.
Extra Features
The extras listed are "Original Widescreen presentation" and "Picture disc." That's pulling out all the stops, when you get an image on the disc itself like that.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Replicant is okay for a rental, but only completists would need to make a purchase. The film presentation on the DVD is fine, but fans may wish there was more to it than a picture disc.

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