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Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // August 11, 2009
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted August 2, 2009 | E-mail the Author
The Movies:

2001's Replicant finds Van Damme in a double role cast alongside creepy Michael Rooker from Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer! Rooker plays a Seattle cop named Jake Riley who has spent the last three years of his life hot on the trail of a mass murderer named The Torch (Van Damme). Just before Riley's set to retire, The Torch starts up again and a government group hires him to come on board and help them put a stop to the killings. Their plan? To create a clone of The Torch out of some DNA that they scored from one of the killer's last crimes, and use that clone to beat him at his own game. Riley's on board to help train the clone in the ways of The Torch, and once they get over a few initial hurdles, the pair work together to bring The Torch to justice.

Obviously influenced by a certain Ridley Scott movies based on a certain Philip K. Dick novel, Replicant is derivative but fun. Seeing Van Damme play the bad guy is interesting and he does a fine job of sleazing it up, and it contrasts quite nicely with the naïve, newborn baby-ish clone that he also plays. In short, you get to see two very different sides of him here and while his range is rather limited, he handles things here quite admirably. Rooker does a good job with the material as well. He tends to play surly tough guy types well and his performance here is no exception. It doesn't top his work on Henry but nor should it be expected to as it's a very different film. He and Van Damme have good chemistry and they work well together on screen.

The most interesting aspect of the film is how Riley essentially tutors the clone in the ways of the actual person that he has been cloned from. Though the clone has a psychic link with the man he's been spun off from, he still needs that gruff guiding hand that Riley ends up providing him and in a strange way, it's very much a child-parent relationship. Though action movies use ploys like this fairly often (look at the relationship between Bruce Lee and his teacher in The Chinese Connection or between Lee Van Cleef and John Phillip Law in Death Rides A Horse) Replicant takes it even further by making the clone so childlike. The script, while still dependant on set pieces and action movies clichés, doesn't do a half bad job of exploiting this side of the story and taking advantage of Van Damme's strengths, letting him emote more than really act.

Ringo Lam's direction is strong here, and he manages to keep the action and tension moving along at a good pace. The cinematography is also above average for what is essentially a modestly budgeted (at least by Hollywood standards) B-movie. The opening murder scene is edited in such a way that it's actually a little disturbing with the flash bulbs going off and exposing the dead body while the killer's interaction with the victim's infant son is eerie enough to start the movie off with a bit of an edge.

When the end credits start to roll, the film is certainly an action movie first and foremost and so many of the dumb clichés that the genre is famous for are upfront in the film. Under the surface, however, Replicant proves to be a little smarter than it probably even realizes, which is always a nice surprise.

The Blu-ray Disc


Replicant debuts on Blu-ray its original aspect ratio of 1.85.1 in a VC-1 encoded 1080p transfer that is enhanced for 16x9 sets. While this isn't as strong as some transfers of more modern material have been, it's definitely a noticeable upgrade from the standard definition DVD. The opening scene where Rooker's character arrives at the scene of the crime has a softness to it because of all the smoke in the air but there aren't any nasty compression artifacts to complain about even if there is a bit of edge enhancement visible. Grain is present throughout but this has always been a fairly grainy looking picture to being with so that's to be expected and can't, in all fairness, be considered a strike against the transfer. Color reproduction is good, though this isn't a film with a particularly vibrant color scheme, rather, it relies quite heavily on a lot of greens and blues to give it a fairly cool tone. A lot of the film takes place at night or in darker indoor sequences and while the black levels could have been a bit stronger, they don't break up at all and they do stay pretty consistent. Shadow detail is decent and skin tones are okay but there is some noticeable banding in some scenes and sometimes facial detail appears to have been scrubbed away implying that there's probably been some digital cleaning applied to the picture. Overall, as stated, this is an improvement over the SD release, though it's far from a perfect transfer.


The English language 48 kHz 1.5 Mbps DTS-HD 5.1 mix is definitely very front heavy but it's got some good surround activity going on throughout. Dialogue stays clean and clear throughout playback and the levels are always properly balanced. There's some nice punch noticeable during the shoot outs and the fight scenes and there aren't any problems with hiss or distortion to note. The score sounds good and bass response is pretty strong. All in all, the mix is problem free. Subtitles are provided in English, English SDH, and Spanish.


The biggest and best of the supplements on this disc is the commentary track courtesy of Jean-Claude Van Damme and his co-star, Michael Rooker, who have obviously been recorded separately and sort of spliced together into one cohesive whole. It's an interesting track with Van Damme getting a bit more of the spotlight than Rooker but either way, there's some interesting information in here including some cool bits about Van Damme's early life and about how this project was put together.

A selection of deleted (19:56, non-anamorphic widescreen, standard definition) scenes are also found in the extras department. Taken from a harsh looking tape source, they're not in the best of shape but they are interesting to see as they add a bit of character development and also contain some violence that was trimmed from the theatrical cut of the movie. They appear here with time code stamped on the bottom of the picture, but hey, better to see them in shoddy shape than to not see them at all.

Rounding out the extra features are a decent still gallery, a selection of storyboard artwork, some nifty menus and chapter stops. Before you get to the menu screen, the red band trailer for Punisher: War Zone plays in HD. The trailer for the feature itself is nowhere to be seen,

Final Thoughts:

While Replicant definitely looks and sounds better on Blu-ray than it does on standard definition DVD, the transfer isn't exactly problem free even if it is noticeably improved in a lot of ways. The audio is pretty strong and all of the extras (aside from the theatrical trailer) have been carried over from the DVD release, which is a nice touch. As to the movie itself, it holds up well. Van Damme and Rooker are both in fine form here and action/sci-fi fans should definitely give this thriller a shot. Recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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