The Replacement Suspects (2001)

Directed by
Clunker from an otherwise promising director
Reviewed by Simon on 2002-03-06

I'd been in a dilemma about buying this one for a while - Marco Mak directed 2 of my favourite movies of 2001 (Cop On A Mission and A Gambler's Story), but would his virtuosity be enough to overcome a script by the dreadful Simon Loui? I'd have taken a gamble anyway based on these stats... but with Michael Wong and Julian Cheung at the top of the credits list too? What eventually convinced me to buy it was a colleague of mine telling me he'd rented it, and found it so bad that he turned it off after half an hour. I often find that this particular colleague completely misses the charms of movies that I really like, so I took this to be a positive sign :D

What I actually got when I watched the movie was surprisingly just what I should have guessed - a well directed movie, from a lousy script with a terrible cast. Marco Mak has an excellent visual style, and builds tension wonderfully... but you have to wonder if it's worth the effort when dealing with such a clunky and convoluted script.

Simon Loui appears to have basically ripped off the Japanese movie Space Travellers for the plot, throwing in a stupid idea at the start to set up his scenario, and then forgetting to include any of the humour, warmth or characterization that made SPACE TRAVELLERS so good. Michael Wong appears to have regressed again, and you really want to punch his smarmy "oh so tough police chief" who delivers most of his lines in English once more, and in a style that really has you wondering what inspired him to become an actor. Julian Cheung actually gives an excellent performance here - I was very pleased with him. Simon Loui himself is predictable as the self-indulgent bald headed "tough but suffering" role he likes to write for himself, and Roy Cheung is completely miscast. Kenny Bee hardly has to do anything, and seems to be wondering why he's there for most of the movie. The youngsters in the cast all did a good job though.

There is little to redeem the movie really - there's some nice visual effects in a couple of places, but they appear to have been knocked off (ironically) from Tsui Hark's Knock Off, and seem a little bit pointless here. I've not lost my faith in Marco Mak yet, but I hope he's learnt his lesson here - never ever let Simon Loui hold a pen, or Michael Wong open his mouth. Oh, and remember to cast Suki Kwan again next time!

Not recommended, but I'm sure others out there will disagree completely.

EDIT: It has since been pointed out to me that TRS is less influenced by Space Travellers than by Kevin Spacey's directorial debut ALBINO ALLIGATOR. In fact, THE REPLACEMENT SUSPECTS appears to be a shot for shot/word for word remake/rip-off of ALBINO ALLIGATOR.