Jean-Claude Van Damme can’t be expected to contain his awesome martial arts talents to just one character at a time, that’s why he’s played duel roles in not one, but two movies. In 1991, JCVD broke cinematic boundaries in “Double Impact,” playing both Alex and Chad Wagner, two brothers who were separated at birth, but reunite to kick faces and break bones. Now I know you’re thinking that nothing could possibly top two Van Dammes delivering devastating body blows side by side, but what if I told you that you could see JCVD fight himself? When you watch “Replicant,” my friends that’s exactly what you’ll get.
Replicant’s first scene features an evil JCVD kicking a woman to death. If kicking women until they’re dead doesn’t convince you that this dude is evil, his long, greasy hair should do the trick. Long haired JCVD is Edward “The Torch” Garrotte, a serial killer whose modus operandi is seeking out young mothers and burning them to a crisp. Garrotte’s been at this serial killer business for a long time, and all the while hardboiled cop, Jake Riley (Michael Rooker) has been hot on his trail. In an act of desperation the government decides to clone The Torch. Knowing that the clone would inherit all of the memories of the original, the government plans to use the replicant as a human hound dog, sniffing out all of Garrottes old haunts, and hopefully leading the feds to the maniacal killer.
Incredibly, the government decides to team up Replicant with Jake Riley, the man who above all things despises Edward Garrotte and by extension Replicant. At this point, the movie turns into an action packed version of “Rain Man,” with Rooker playing the role of Tom Cruise, and JCVD playing the role of mentally challenged killing machine. Although Replicant was able to retain some of Garrottes memories, he couldn’t remember anything else (like how to talk). Riley is forced to lead Replicant around by a leash, barking commands like “down” and “stay” as though he were a dog. At first I thought this premise was ridiculous (and I suppose it is) but about halfway through the movie I was completely invested with JCVDs dim-witted doppelgänger. I couldn’t help but feel bad for this clone, who never asked to be created and only wants to be hugged. By the time JCVD and Michael Rooker are walking through the park, ice cream cones in hand, I couldn’t have been happier.
But Replicant isn’t just a movie about a dumb but lovable clone, it’s a movie about a serial killer. While at first the action is sparse, if you wait patiently you will not be disappointed. By the second half of the movie good and evil Van Damme lock eyes and the action is set in motion. I’m not going to ruin the action, but believe me, it’s there. In the pool hall, it’s there. In the hospital, it’s there. And in the hotel with the knife wielding pimps, it’s there. Throw in a JCVD showdown, and Replicant is top-notch.
If you’re a fan of Jean-Claude Van Damme, you will not be disappointed with Replicant, and if you’re not a fan, well, I question your worth as a human being. Watch this movie and be somebody.
I give Replicant: 4 out of 5 roundhouse kicks to the heart