Replicant (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This 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. 


none in the movie proper

there is no female nudity in the deleted scenes, but Van Damme's butt can be seen in the long "birth scene"

 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 world.

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.

  • He does a pretty good job as the psychotic bad guy. That's easy to do, of course, because it's just one-dimensional menace, but he is really convincingly evil.
  • I was much more impressed with what he did with the clone. Starting from a blank mind, mimicking the process of learning simple behaviors, reacting only with his eyes at first, Jean Claude did absolutely great. He was able to show what the clone was thinking, the confusion, the fear, the doubt, the struggle to control himself, without having to speak more than a couple of simple phrases. Bravado job! I just never knew that he had it in him. I guess that playing the part of someone with a blank mind is the role he was born to play.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • Full-length Van Damme commentary

  • deleted scenes

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. 

The Critics Vote

  • no major reviews

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.2. It is not Citizen Kane, but is probably better than that.
  • With their dollars ... no theatrical release in the USA
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. Pretty good little cops-and-robbers actioner with a light SciFi coating.

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