Romeo Must Die


Directed by: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Written by:Mitchell Kapner, Eric Bernt
Starring: Jet Li, Aaliyah, Isaiah Washington, Russell Wong, DMX, Delroy Lindo
Released: May 11, 2000
Grade: C

You can usually tell a bad movie because it can be described in one sentence.  Romeo Must Die is the story of two rival gangs (one Chinese and one Negro) who go to war over a dispute only to have Jet Li come and kill them all, solve all their problems and walk off with the girl.

For me, the viewing experience of Romeo Must Die can be summarised into four quarters.  During the first, I was quite interested.  I didn’t really understand what was going on but the premise seemed solid enough and there were plenty of characters to play with.  No action yet but I knew it was coming.

The second quarter started the film on its sharp decline.  It just seemed like a total waste.  You could have taken out the whole half hour and nothing would be lost.  There was one scene with Jet Li in his deceased brother’s apartment that dragged on so long I could feel myself itching in frustration.  I was starting to worry.

The third quarter was farcical.  The plot lost all cohesion.  Nothing made sense, characters were killed off and the truth set in - this film was total crap.  The big “action” kung-fu scenes that were strongly advertised in the film’s trailer were a supreme disappointment.  They were nothing more than fast and creative editing to give the appearance something was actually happening. 

The final quarter was a forgone conclusion.  I could have seen it coming from the cinema carpark.  So there was nothing more to do than just sit and squirm until the inevitable unfolded.

Jet Li is supposedly a rising Hollywood star but this certainly won’t help his resume.  He may be a master of kung fu but he sure can’t act.  At least when Jackie Chan makes a movie he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

Judging by the audiences’ responses, I think many will agree with my appalling opinion.  The most laughs came from a big fat Negro character that refers to Jet Li as Dim Sim.  I think you’ll agree that if that’s the funniest line in a film, it has serious problems.