Replicant (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
film marks the third time in his career that Van Damme has played dual
roles, following Double Impact and Maximum Risk. He's like the Alec
Guinness of bad acting. I have the same problem with this that I had
with Schwarzenegger in The 6th Day - not enough Van Dammes! Why stop
at two? He's done that already. Is there any reason why he could not
be all seven of the Seven Samurai? Why couldn't he play the entire
cast of Andy of Mayberry, or War and Peace, or Timon of Athens?
Well, not the entire cast.
Rodman would have to get at least one role to make it perfect.
This time there is a slight variation on the usual clone story. We are battling a mysterious serial-killing bad guy, so we steal some of his DNA in order to create a clone. This allows us to know what he looks like, and presumably to understand his thoughts better.
|The entire process
addresses the nature/nurture debate. What if, as some scientists might
claim, the original is evil because of his DNA itself, and not because
of environmental influences. Let's hope not, because if so, we're
really screwed, and the Feds have doubled the threat. Ouch!
By subjecting the clone only to positive life-affirming influences, like re-runs of The Cosby Show, scientists hope that nurture will overcome nature.
| Actually, that isn't
the way it went down. The federal government was experimenting with
this cloning as a technique to infiltrate terrorist networks. They
created the Van Damme clone and simply turned him over to a detective
(Michael Rooker) without any instructions. Rooker really has no idea
what to do. At first he abuses the clone, thinking of him as identical
to his dreaded enemy. Gradually, however, Rooker comes to the
understanding that the clone is like his own child, and that his
treatment of the "child" will shape what he does in the
And, of course, the scientists needed some phony-baloney crap to speed up the plot, so they gave the clone "enhanced telepathic powers" so that he could more easily find his other self.
You must realize from reading this that the premise is too gimmicky, but the movie actually plays out quite well. Rooker and the clone JCVD gradually track down the original JCVD, and you are left wondering just whose side the clone will be on when push comes to shove.
This wasn't a bad movie at all.
Although this went straight-to-vid, it is at least as tense and entertaining and thoughtful as most thrillers that make it into the theaters, and the action scenes are exciting when they are supposed to be. The one thing that might put you off is its unrelenting intensity. Unlike similar movies with Mel Gibson or Bruce Willis or Arnold, this flick is dark, grim, unpleasant and humorless from start to finish.
You better brace yourself for what I am about to say. I can't believe I'm about to type this, especially after how much crap you guys gave me when I gave Bill Shatner a bunch of compliments for his work in Free Enterprise, but Van Damme is terrific in this movie.
|The movie makes excellent use of Van
Damme's skills and works around his weaknesses. He moves with athletic
grace, and does some great fight scenes, and his normal problem with
the English language is irrelevant in the clone role where he almost
never speaks. He does speak in the evil role, but his accent and his
problems with the language actually seem to make him seem more
sinister, and don't get in the way of the character at all.
Wouldn't you know it? After making a bunch of crap all his life, most of which was theatrically distributed, JC actually does a good job for once in a pretty good movie, and it goes straight to vid!
Despite the presence of Van Damme, some good overseas results, some good reviews and good word-of-mouth on IMDb, plus the direction of popular Hong Kong action film director Ringo Lam (he also directed dual Van Dammes in Maximum Risk!), this film could not get a theatrical distributor in the USA.
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