- Format: NTSC
- Number of tapes: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Warner
- VHS Release Date: May 6 2003
- Average Customer Review: 163 customer reviews
- ASIN: 0790749998
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #9,945 in Video (See Top 100 in Video)
Romeo Must Die
Per IMDB - An avenging cop seeks out his brother's killer and falls for the daughter of a businessman who is involved in a money-deal with his father. Starring: Jet Li, Aaliyah, Isaiah Washington, Russell Wong, Delroy Lindo, DMX and many more. Classic VHS viewing bliss!
Documentary: 8 Short Documentaries (26:56) Featurette: Making of Romeo Must Die (15:00) Behind the Scenes (14:03) Music Video: Aaliyah's "Try Again" video (3:40) Making of Aaliyah's "Try Again" music video (4:11) Aaliyah/DMX "Come Back In One Piece" video (3:42) Other: Inside the Visual Effects Process (3:52) "Diary of a (Legal) Mad Bomber" (5:07) "Anatomy of a Stunt" (7:12) "The Sound Stage" (1:00) Theatrical Trailer: Sampler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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One thing this movie has is a great cast, including the two new-comers of sorts. For Jet Li, this was his first English-language leading role (although it was his 26th film overall), and for Aaliyah, it was her first of what should have been many more movies were it not for her untimely death a couple of years ago. The supporting players are great, particularly Delroy Lindo as African-American crime boss Isaak O'Day, a man who is trying to go legit only to see a turf war erupt between his posse and that of a neighboring Chinese crime family. Anthony Anderson steals the show, though, as O'Day's hilarious goon Maurice, shucking and jiving his way throughout the entire film, always rising to the comic occasion no matter how many times he loses a fight. Jet Li is Han Sing, a former Hong Kong cop who went to jail to allow his crooked father and brother to flee the island for America; when he learns that his little brother has been rubbed out, he makes a most interesting and enjoyable prison break in order to find his brother's killer. Aaliyah plays Trish O'Day, an independent woman who is ashamed of her family's illicit business dealings. Han ends up seeking her out as the best lead for finding his brother's killer, and they eventually form a certain bond and work together as the killings not only continue, they hit ever closer to home.
The story as it plays out is a little bit confusing and hard to predict, with an ending that turns out to be quite good indeed, but there's a good bit of entertainment to be had alongside all the senseless killing. Jet Li on the dance floor is a perfect example of what I'm talking about here. Han can pretend to know hip-hop, but his moves on the dance floor are significantly less impressive than his moves in a fight. Another great scene involves Han being attacked by a female martial artist; while he refuses to hit a woman, he comes up with a pretty handy dandy way of kicking her to the curb like she deserves. Then there is Jet Li's football scene, wherein his character takes the thoroughly American game to a whole new level. This leads me into one problem I have with the film, though. Romeo Must Die, from the producer of The Matrix, suffers from The Matrix Syndrome, using wires to orchestrate acrobatic stunts for no reason whatsoever. Things go so far here as to introduce "ultra pain mode" shots where we suddenly zoom inside a person's body to see the reaction to a punch. There's just no need for Jet Li to fly through the air; the fact that he can take out every man in a large room without ever setting foot on the ground might sound cool, but it really takes something away from the otherwise gritty feel of the film.
Romeo Must Die is really an odd mix of martial arts, hip-hop flavor, comedy, action, you name it. The soundtrack gives it a driving pulse you won't find in many films of this type, making this a movie that fans of several genres can enjoy. There is plenty of action, although Jet Li's martial arts skills aren't put to good use nearly as much as I would have preferred. The DVD is absolutely loaded with extra features: theatrical trailers, 3 music videos, 13 behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews, and even more goodies for DVD-ROM owners. It's a very enjoyable film, but its mix-and-match genre outfit leaves it unable to wholly satisfy fans of any one genre.
As Romeo Must Die opens, two gangster warlords, one black and one Chinese, are in open warfare with each other. Since each one's fortune will be made by a joint effort to put together a deal with a supposedly legitimate corporation, I never understood the war part, but who needs a plot? The war is just a setup so that Chinese warlord Ch'u Sing's [Henry O] son can get murdered, the obvious suspects being members of the black gang and their leader, Isaak O'Day [Delray Lindo]. This provides an excuse for Sing's other son, Han [Jet Li], to single-handedly break out of a Hong Kong prison, come to America and seek revenge. One day in San Francisco, where the movie is set, Han steals a cab [don't ask] and just happens to rescue Trish O'Day [Aaliyah], Isaak's daughter, who is fleeing one of Dad's bodyguards, one that is supposed to be protecting her. Han whisks her away, never once thinking that the police might be looking for said cab. When he lets her off, their eyes meet, the music sweeps up, and, yes, love has landed. Both are alienated from their fathers, he on a little matter of Dad's letting him take the rap back in Hong King to save the old man's hide, and she because father is a self-righteous jerk who does bad things for a living. What greater justification for love could there be? Soon the plot gets both thicker and thinner, a writing feat in itself. Halfway through the movie, every audience member with at least a grade school education has figured out who is the culprit behind the war. Never mind that. There are lots more explosions, big fights and other events to follow to keep the viewers awake, and thus, presumably entertained.
Jet Li is a Hong Kong kung fu movie star who can sometimes also act. Here he seems mostly confused, not by America, I suspect, but by the director. He is grand in the fight scenes, though assisted often by flying pulley wires plus a few graphics effects. There aren't enough of these fights because the movie spends too much time taking itself seriously. As Trish O'Day, beautiful supermodel Aaliyah is pert and attractive, but this is no movie by which to measure her assets as an actress. Some of the supporting actors, especially Anthony Anderson, hilariously funny as Maurice the bodyguard, rise above their stereotypical roles. First time director Andrzej Bartkowiak is a master cinemaphotographer, and he might be wise to return to working the cameras ASAP.
The trailer for Romeo Must Die was first rate and did much to sell the movie. In it, there were a lot of fast, intricate little cuts from the film. All were underscored by a short, powerful classical orchestral and choral piece, which is not in the movie at all. Interestingly, on the DVD version, the opening section where the DVD's menu choices are displayed is filled with fast, intricate little cuts and the same classical music. Some creative soul in the Warner Bros. DVD division must have been sending us a message.
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