The Replacement Killers appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Created in the format’s early days, this became a blah presentation.
The biggest issue here stemmed from processing choices, as Killers suffered from both some prominent edge haloes as well as noise reduction. The grain removal left the image with a mushy feel at times, one that got countered by the boosted artificial sharpness. As a result, the movie could seem off, as it appeared both too soft and too sharp at the same time.
For the most part, the rest of the presentation worked fine. At least I saw no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and print flaws failed to create distractions.
Killers opted for a highly stylized palette, one that usually favored amber/sepia, though it threw in some blues, greens and reds as well. These hues didn’t dazzle, but they usually came across with reasonable clarity.
Blacks felt fairly deep, and low-light shots offered mostly positive delineation. Without the edge haloes and noise reduction, this would’ve turned into a more than decent image, but as it stood, the end result felt flawed.
Matters improved with the aggressive PCM 5.1 soundtrack of The Replacement Killers. This was a very active affair that kept all five channels working through the majority of the movie. Music showed good stereo imaging and the track provided a nice sense of general ambience.
Of course, various action scenes used the spectrum the best. These managed to place gunfire and other elements in the right places and blended them well.
Audio quality appeared solid, as speech was always natural and warm, and I noticed no problems related to intelligibility or edginess. Music sounded bright and dynamic, with clear highs and rich lows.
Effects seemed clean and accurate, as they showed no signs of distortion and also displayed solid bass response that was appropriately defined but not overly boomy. Ultimately, I thought this turned into a solid mix.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD from 2003? Audio worked better, as the PCM mix showed better localization and warmer tones than the DVD’s lossy audio did.
As for visuals, they looked tighter and more vivid. The DVD was good for its format – and the BD seems blah for its - but this still showed a moderate step up in quality.
Note that the Blu-ray only includes a 96-minute Extended Cut of Killers and lacks the 88-minute theatrical cut. It appears to mostly fold in the deleted scenes from the 2003 Special Edition DVD.
Those largely just elongated existing sequences. The “Extended Cut” adds a bit of new information but it fails to alter the movie in a notable manner, whether for better or for worse.
The Blu-ray duplicates some of the DVD’s extras, and we start with an HBO “Making-Of” special called Where the Action Is. This 10-minute, nine-second featurette offers info from executive producer Matt Baer, director Antoine Fuqua, and actors Chow Yun-Fat and Mira Sorvino.
If you expect much more than the standard promotional fare, you’ll depart disappointed. The program shows lots of material from the movie and touts it, though the hype factor seems somewhat subdued, so it’s not as strident as many similar pieces. It includes a smidgen of useful data, but for the most part it seems pretty bland.
Next we discover a 20-minute, 27-second featurette entitled Chow Yun-Fat Goes Hollywood. “Hollywood” feels like an extension of the HBO piece, as the format seems very similar, and the level of depth remains consistent.
We get more from 1998 interviews with Chow and Sorvino as well as newer snippets from Fuqua, Baer, executive producer Terence Chang, director James Foley (who helmed Chow’s second American flick, 1999’s The Corruptor), Ed Baker of LA’s Cinefile Video, and Erik Nakamura, editor of Giant Robot magazine.
Despite the additional length and higher number of participants, “Hollywood” appears just as superficial as the HBO program. I thought it would offer a nice look at Chow’s adjustment to American movies, but instead it’s little more than a puff piece.
We learn a) how talented Chow is, and b) how nice Chow is. I don’t doubt that he’s both nice and talented, but I didn’t need 20 minutes of this show to tell me so. As such, this program seems eminently avoidable.
Under Trailers, we find promos for Hostel, Paprika and Vacancy. No trailer for Killers appears here.
Note that the Blu-ray loses a Fuqua audio commentary from the DVD as well as deleted scenes. As noted, the latter apparently got wrapped into the “Extended Cut” found here, but the commentary goes completely MIA. I assume it also was a casualty of the longer version of the film, as the theatrical cut’s commentary wouldn’t work alongside the extended movie – and Fuqua probably didn’t want to record a new one.
As a movie, The Replacement Killers provides a flashy but fairly dull piece of work. The glitzy visuals never add up to much real excitement, and the film’s good cast can’t compensate for these concerns. The Blu-ray brings excellent audio along with erratic visuals and minor bonus materials. This becomes a spotty release for a mediocre movie.
To rate this film visit the DVD review of REPLACEMENT KILLERS