Romeo Must Die

Unlikely duo: Han and Trish (Li and Aaliyah) find themselves in the middle of a potential gang war.
dir Andrzej Bartkowiak scr Eric Bernt, John Jarrell
with Jet Li, Aaliyah, Isaiah Washington, Russell Wong, Delroy Lindo, DB Woodside, Henry O, Edoardo Ballerini, Anthony Anderson, DMX, Jonkit Lee, Byron Lawson
Warners 00/US 2 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
John Woo meets Jackie Chan for a bit of gangsta socky. Jet Li makes his bid for leading man stardom in Romeo Must Die, a mixed bag of a film that's both slick and sloppy at the same time. It's funny and violent and occasionally quite entertaining, even if there's not a single convincing moment.

Li plays Han Sing, escaped from a Hong Kong prison to avenge the death of his little brother (Lee) in Oakland, a murder that's likely to spark a serious gang war between the Chinese, led by the venerable Ch'u (O), Han's father, and the black gang led by Isaak O'Day (Lindo). Meanwhile we have various henchmen (Washington, Wong, Anderson, et al) and a shifty banker (Ballerini), along with O'Day's spoiled son (Woodside) and beautiful, independent daughter (Aaliyah), who of course falls instantly for Han.

There's no reason the mix of comedy and suspense can't work, and for a while the film is quite enjoyable in a mindless-entertainment sort of way. But the silliness starts to overtake things, the underhanded shadiness tries far too hard to be underhanded and shady, and the screenwriters even manage to work in some seriously schmaltzy father-daughter stuff. Li is very watchable, efficiently flying through the fight sequences (although he does actually fly several times), and the final action piece is superb. But really this is just unoriginal, lazy filmmaking--a forgettable mishmash stolen from John Woo and Jackie Chan.

[15--themes, violence, language] 12.Sep.00
US release 22.Mar.00; UK release 13.Oct.00

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Jack Jones, net: "This is a very entertaining movie to watch and I have watched it at least three times now. I do find funny parts in this movie that I will all ways remember it by, and of course a few funny lines that Li and others in the movie say. But I don't find where in this film it is meant to be a comedy of any kind. I find the action scenes very good to watch many times and I never get bored of them. I wouldn't say I have seen alot of Jet Li movies and from what I have seen it seems very rare we find him being helped so much and even falling in love so soon. I say it works well and this in my mind is a great movie." (1.Jun.06)
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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall