The Replicant, after a poor cinematic release overseas, skipped the theaters here in America and has arrived direct-to-video/DVD. The film stars Jean-Claude Van Damme (Replicant/Torch), Michael Rooker (Jake), and Catherine Dent (Angie). The film is directed by Ringo Lam, who previously directed the Van Damme movie Maximum Risk, as well as several terrific Hong Kong flicks, such as Full Contact, Prison on Fire I&II, and City on Fire.
Catching the "Torch," a serial killer who kills women and then sets their bodies ablaze, has become Jake Riley's life. However, after failing to catch him again, he retires from the police force. Not too much later, the NSA approaches Riley. They inform him that they, using a strand of hair from a crime scene, have cloned the Torch. Dubbed the replicant, this clone has access to the Torch's memories, but is basically an unknowing child. Despite this, both Riley and the NSA think he will lead them to the killer. Riley is put in charge of the replicant, and is now more than ever determined to use him to catch the Torch. But the Torch has other plans for his "brother"…
I'm a huge fan of director Ringo Lam and I enjoyed Maximum Risk, so I was eager to see how he did with The Replicant. Admittedly, Van Damme isn't an actor I devoutly follow, but I do like a great deal of his films, and he really delivers in this one. Certainly the concept of him playing two separate characters isn't new (he did it previously in Maximum Risk and Double Impact), but in The Replicant, it's given a twist: Van Damme plays the sidekick and the villain. Van Damme does a great job of giving both characters a different personality and "look." Rooker is likewise excellent in his role. The film is always engaging and has some great action scenes that fans of Van Damme will certainly enjoy.
The Replicant is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is enhanced for widescreen TVs. The transfer contains very few flaws: it does have some light grain, some slight edge enhancement visible only in a few scenes, and some pixelation, which is mainly confined to a few of the action scenes. Colors are well saturated and vibrant, flesh tones are accurate, and blacks are deep and rich throughout the film.
The Replicant is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround. The 5.1 track is very impressive, with well-integrated and dynamic surround use. All the speakers are used, which provides some good directional effects. Dialogue throughout the film is crisp, clean, and easy to understand. Optional subtitles in Spanish, as well as captions in English are included.
The main extra on the disc is a screen-specific audio commentary with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Michael Rooker. Rooker is the main participant here, with Van Damme chiming in only from time to time. The track meanders a lot, but some interesting information about the film does (eventually) surface.
Next up are eight deleted scenes, still in rough form. While none of them were essential to the film, a few of them were interesting, and in sum, they run about twenty minutes in length.
Also on the disc are a photo gallery, a selection of storyboards, cast and crew biographies, and the film's trailer.
The Replicant is a decent sci-fi action flick that is best described as a cross between the Watcher and the 6th Day. Fans of Van Damme or director Lam should definitely consider giving the film a look. Recommended.