Executive-produced by one-time Chow Yun-Fat collaborator John Woo ("Face/Off"), "The Replacement Killers" looks a lot like a Woo film, especially the Chinese-made "The Killer."
Chow, who also starred in that film, plays John Lee, a cold-blooded assassin who suddenly discovers he has a conscience when he is unable to exact revenge on a police detective (Michael Rooker).
However, in doing so he incurs the wrath of a powerful crime lord ("Supercop's" Kenneth Tsang) who has been blackmailing him into doing his dirty work.
Fearing for the safety of his family in China, John enlists document forger Meg Coburn (Mira Sorvino) to make fake travel papers for him. But instead he drags her into the line of fire as they try to escape from the title characters, hired guns sent to finish his job.
Director Antoine Fuqua (Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" music video) keeps the action moving and does a nice job imitating the style of Woo and fellow Hong Kong director Ringo Lam. And despite some silly lapses in logic, newcomer Ken Sanzel's script is crisp and economical.
And Chow flourishes under the circumstances, displaying his trademark sneer and ability to fire guns in an almost balletic manner. Sorvino is surprisingly good in a physically demanding role as well.
"The Replacement Killers" is rated R for violent gun and fistfights, gore, profanity and some very brief drug use.