Replicant is the story about Jake Riley, favourite detective of serial killer "Torch" (Van Damme), known for murdering single mothers and torching their bodies with the child still in the house. After failing to capture him one last time, Jake goes into retirement, but is picked up by a clandestine government agency who are planning to clone terrorists, and have cloned "Torch" to use him as a test subject.
The Replicant (he's never given a name) is telepathically connected with his murderous source, and Jake is tasked with activating the latent killer in the Replicant, any way possible.
Everything in between features naive, newborn replicant Van Damme being abused, manipulated and scared by his "daddy" - the supposed hero of our story, and struggling family man (maybe. We could never figure out if he was related to the fellow police officer/mother he keeps visiting. The kid called him "uncle", he sends his mother to stay with her, and yet, in a deleted scene, they were making out. O.o)
Jake might not be doing it on purpose (we weren't sure), but the way he treats the Replicant is basically a blueprint for creating a dependent - he ignores the Replicant, is overly violent, blames him for any tiny mistake, and just when he's ripped all the footing out from under his feet, he shows him just a little bit of kindness. (Rinse and repeat)
It's depressing, uncomfortable and sad, but not bad. Van Damme absolutely shines in this role, and every time his "daddy" gets angry with him it is heart-breaking to watch.
It's just that nothing else supports the amazing performance and moral lesson presented by Van Damme's Replicant. His serial-murder version is not especially fleshed out or interestingly played, Michael Rooker as Jake just phones in his role, the dialogue is incredibly ham-fisted and likes hammering its points home (while not following up on them. At all) the one-liners are weak and the Van Damme/Van Damme fight scenes are not on the quality level they should have been.
There's a scene in the deleted scenes showing Jake going back to his whatever-their-relationship partner's house and receiving a drawing from her son - illustrating him standing over the beaten up replicant (he brought the replicant to her house, because of course he did, handcuffed him in the basement, son found him, offered him a snack, came running out from the basement, mouth bleeding. Jake went ballistic and savagely beat the replicant - turned out the kid had knocked heads with the dog) which I understand why they cut (it was part of a larger scene with family drama), but really wish they hadn't, because it would have been the -only- indication in the movie that Jake's behavior isn't okey.
Some times a dark ending is more meaningful, more poignant, more likely to make an impact, and yet I feel I haven't seen a bad ending in.. 15 years?
Give me my unhappy, terrifying, heart-breaking periods back!