BluRay/DVD Reviews

ROMEO MUST DIE

By • Aug 1st, 2000 •

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In what is hyped as the first hip-hop Kung Fu movie, Jet Li plays Han, a disgraced Chinese police officer incarcerated in a Hong Kong prison for refusing to spill the beans on his Chinese gangster family. His family have fled to Oakland, California, where they are now engaged in a bitter gang war with Black-American mob family, the O’Days. When Li receives news that his little brother has been murdered, he breaks out of prison and heads to the States to track down his brother’s killer etc., etc. Once there he steals a cab, and who should jump in the back but Trish O’Day (who’da figured?) who, like Han, despises her family’s criminal activities. When Trish’s brother also turns up dead, presumably in a revenge strike against the O’Days, the two team up to find out what’s going on. Oh yeah, and there’s some big property scam going on with some white guys about buying up waterfront properties to build, of all things, a football stadium. It’s pretty much run-of-the-mill-stuff, but as usual, Jet Li’s fight scenes, aided by veteran Corey Yuen’s choreography, are enormously watchable.

Although not completely unfathomable, the choice of title is an odd one. Okay, we’ve got two rival families and the son of one family (Li) fancies the daughter of the other (Aaliyah). Fine. A Romeo and Juliet scenario, but if you expect any further Shakespearean allusions, forget it.
At no point, unless I missed it, is Li’s character referred to as Romeo, and I don’t think there is any desire expressed anywhere in the movie that he must die, except maybe in the climactic fight. No-one is even looking for him (except presumably the Chinese Police, though strangely there is no evidence of this either. Nor is it explained how, after breaking out of a Chinese prison, he can just board a plane and fly to, and enter, the United States).

It’s a lively but by-the-numbers film, with some VERY obvious wire-work (which Li doesn’t need), and is notable only for marking the directorial debut of cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak, the cameraman behind Speed, Lethal Weapon 4, and The Devil’s Advocate, and for being Jet Li’s first lead role in a US movie following his supporting appearance in Lethal Weapon 4. It also introduces a charming X-Ray special effect where we get to see Li’s victims’ bones breaking. Whoever dreamt that one up needs therapy.

Most touchingly it features the first and only movie appearance by hip-hop star Aaliyah. Undoubtedly talented and beautiful, she shows great promise and screen presence and is the only bright note in the movie. The movie showcases her musical and more than passable acting talents and she even gets involved in a fight scene with Li, who says he cannot hit a girl and uses Aaliyah’s limbs to fight a female opponent. Tragically she was killed in a plane crash the following year.


Special Features:
Making Romeo Must Die Documentary
3 Music Videos
Action Scene Mini Documentaries
Inside The Visual Effects Process
Diary Of A Legal Mad Bomber Special Effects Man
Anatomy Of A Stunt
The Sound Stage
Interactive Game A Martial Arts Experience
Web Events
Chat Room Access
Web Site Links

Crew:
Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Fight Director: Corey Yuen
Producer: Joel Silver

Cast:
Han Sing Jet Li
Trish O’Day Aaliyah
Mac Isaiah Washington
Kai Russell Wong
Silk DMX
Isaak O’Day Delroy Lindo
Colin O’Day D.B. Woodside
Ch’u Sing Henry O

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