The Replacement Killers Antoine Fuqua

This was the vaunted Hollywood debut of the one-and-only Chow Yun-Fat, who was made famous by action god John Woo and worshipped by forward-thinking ’90s movieheads. Though it owes more than a little to the baroque styling of his former mentor, it stands on its own as a rousing piece of action fluff. Chow plays an assassin who refuses to kill cop Michael Rooker for the sake of the flatfoot’s family. This naturally raises the ire of his boss, who orders our hero killed, which sends him scrambling to leave the country with the help of document forger Mira Sorvino. But when a first wave of killers fails to take him down, the boss man calls in replacements who are not so easily beaten. Is it too much of a spoiler to say it all ends in violence? In the plus corner, this largely jettisons the pseudo-character scenes that mar other actioners and gets down to the business of running and gunning. An added bonus comes in the form of Sorvino’s character, who unlike most action movie women isn’t completely useless and proves quite handy with a gun. Alas, you have to hold your nose through the glaringly fake name checking of Chinese immigrant culture, which includes a cheesy Buddhist monk and an explication of the Cultural Revolution that’s tacked-on and facile. But for the most part, the movie is all business, and though it doesn’t give itself enough plot to avoid ending abruptly (even in this ten minutes longer unrated cut), it’s mostly slick, potent and light on its feet. Extras include a 20-minute meditation on the Chow phenomenon and a standard issue "making of” propaganda clip. (Sony)