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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
    English, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Bulgarian


    Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 96 mins . MA15+ . PAL


    Frustrated on the set of his first Hollywood film Maximum Risk, acclaimed Hong Kong director Ringo Lam was quoted as saying that Jean-Claude Van Damme, the Muscles from Brussels, "can’t act for shit". Well, quite. So why, you might ask, have all of Lam’s subsequent Hollywood projects (now numbering three) also starred said artiste? God knows, but one thing is for sure - the writer and director of such celebrated films as City on Fire (the inspiration for Tarrantino’s Reservoir Dogs) and Prison on Fire, both starring the infinitely talented Chow Yun Fat, must be a glutton for punishment. Replicant, the second collaboration between Lam and Senor Muscles, sees the flexible Belgian in characteristic form.

    A serial killer is loose on the streets of Seattle. Targeting young single mothers, for three years ‘The Torch’ (Van Damme) has been invading their homes, bludgeoning them to death, and setting light to their corpses - leaving them (and their infants) to be consumed by the blaze. Since the very first murder, Seattle detective Jake Riley (Rooker) has been pursuing The Torch, but just can’t catch the bugger. If this isn’t bad enough, The Torch keeps calling him up and taunting him in a strange Belgian accent. Consequently, when Jake finally gives up the chase and retires from the force, The Torch still remains very much at large. However, The Torch just won't leave him be and, after another particularly savage taunting, Jake decides to join one of America’s thousand-odd National Security Agencies to continue the chase.

    It is here with ‘the feds’ that Jake learns what he has been doing wrong all these years. For the way to catch a serial killer, you see, is not to rely on even the most sophisticated profiling techniques, but to make a clone of the killer from a strand of hair, and let the clone lead you to him. The secret to this technique is that the clone or ‘replicant’ retains the genetic memory (sic) of the original, and can remember significant details concerning the crimes. And so it is up to Jake to take custody of just such a replicant (Van Damme) (who like a newborn child must learn to speak, walk, and do the splits before he is of any use to anyone), and beat the living piss out of him until he remembers something useful. Soon Jake's unlikely approach to extracting information starts to bear fruit, and the pair get closer to nabbing the elusive Torch. Ultimately, after a few near-misses, the three collide in the film's finale that sees (sigh) Van Damme whooping Van Damme’s arse. It’s a closely fought contest but in the end, well, Van Damme wins.

    There really is no point over-analysing this piece of straight-to-video genre fodder. We all know Lam was right about Van Damme’s acting abilities, and Michael Rooker hasn’t yet managed to lift himself out of B-grade mediocrity. However let’s face it, acting ability was never a prerequisite for this prolific genre; into which Replicant is a fairly strong entrant. With a splash of sci-fi, a smattering of slaughtered innocents, gunfights aplenty, and a healthy number of cars wrecked, fans of B-action smash'em up should be well satisfied with the results. Likewise, fans of Van Damme and his previous films will no doubt be impressed - despite the film’s ridiculous premise, Van Damme is as wooden as ever and Lam’s direction is characteristically slick. For everyone else however, you’ll be wishing you had your own replicant that could sit through what is, unbelievably, Van Damme’s third body-double film.


    Presented at its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on a single-sided, single-layer disc from Columbia, Replicant’s anamorphic image is almost flawless. A film with a very dark and cheerless tone, many of the scenes are shot at night or in dimly lit locations where black level and shadow detail are all important. Thankfully both are exceptional, with a clean sharp image providing a well of detail to plumb. Whilst sharp, the image is not overly affected by aliasing or moire, with only one or two instances cropping up for the duration. In the daytime shots, colours are well rendered – as evidenced by the perfectly rendered skin tones and the deep reds and oranges that are The Torch’s handiwork.

    There are only two notable problems with the transfer. The first is a small and undistracting amount of edge enhancement. The second is several instances of posterisation that occur when dealing with smoke – distinct bands appearing on several occasions. Apart from these two quibbles, there is little else to report and, in general, this is a nice transfer that will please fans immensely.


    If there’s one thing you can count on from your standard B-action film it’s an impressive soundtrack, and Replicant’s Dolby Digital 5.1 mix certainly does not disappoint. Right from the outset, all channels are fully utilised to create a broad and immersive soundstage, with splendid channel separation applied to inject directional effects (including gunshots, subway trains and screaming car chases to name a few) into proceedings. The surrounds are also kept busy with a good deal of ambient sound from the streets of Vancouver (erm, sorry - Seattle), to the buzz of helicopter blades and the interior of raging house fires. The score, being your typical-blend action-dramatic and of little note (tee hee), is also well mixed between the front and the rear.

    Not to be left out, the subwoofer is also kept very busy with a constant stream of low-end activity, roaring to life on occasion to pin you back in your sofa (or possibly to wake you up). All the while the dialogue, for what it’s worth, comes clear and distinct from the centre speaker. Despite the total absence of synch issues, you may still have problems understanding the odd unintelligible mumbling from Mr Muscle.

    All in all, Replicant certainly provides an impressive audio experience, and its low-end activity alone will more than satisfy fans. This is certainly a disc that will give your audio setup a much welcomed shake-out.


    I'm afraid not. This is as bare-bones as straight-to-video releases get, disappointing given that the region 1 release contains a commentary by Van Damme and Rooker, deleted scenes and story boards.


    In some ways Replicant’s title is more an indictment of this tired, repetitive genre than of anything else. Certainly, this is a film that will more than please fans of the B-action whilst basically insulting everyone else. While some straight-to-video releases, lavished with extras aplenty, try to convince buyers of a film’s apparent popularity, sadly Replicant has received no such treatment and Van Damme fans will have to be content with a reasonable audio and video transfer. Others are warned to approach with caution!

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      And I quote...
    "..fans of the B-action smash'em up should be well satisfied with the latest Van Damme/Ringo Lam collaboration..."
    - Gavin Turner
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Toshiba SD-2108
    • TV:
          Panasonic TC-68P90A TAU (80cm)
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Speakers:
          B&W 602
    • Centre Speaker:
          B&W CC6 S2
    • Surrounds:
          JM Lab Cobalt SR20
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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