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3.8 out of 5 stars
Romeo Must Die [Blu-ray]
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
When I heard that Jet Li was going to be a lead in an action movie produced by Joel Silver, I was very excited. Before I give a review, I'm not biased to Jet Li because our crew interviewed him and promoted his movie online. I'm not biased to liking this movie because I have been a big fan of his work. I loved this movie because it features wonderful action scenes, an interesting focus on using the African Americans and Asians working together and it features a lot of cool people in the movie.
The storyline is pretty cool and purists of Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Chow Yun Fat are going to be angry at the US movies because such movies don't do justice to what talent they have demonstrated on the HK movies they have been in and I truly understand that.
Another thing is people might feel the MATRIX style fighting hurts this movie. I don't think so. Personally, some fight scenes are a exaggerated and I agree with that but a lot of the other fight scenes are very awesome such as the scenes in the stairs, the football scene, the fire hose scene...awesome!
Others maybe upset that the interracial relationship was not strong enough and were upset there was no kiss scene between Alliyah and Jet. We asked Jet about that and he said that in the end (without spoiling the movie for you), after a bad situation happens to a family member, should you be kissing a girl you just met. So, Jet had a good reason for that. [Note: You can our interview with Jet Li at AsianConnections.com]
So, however you felt about the movie, to each their own. I really enjoyed it! In fact, at the theater in San Jose/Santa Clara, it was packed and people gave it a standing ovation. I'm happy to see Jet's first debut in a lead role for an English movie.
What didn't I like about the film? I didn't dig the use of the X-RAY scenes in the violent parts. That was the major thing I didn't like but everything else, I enjoyed.
Now, the DVD. The colors were very beautiful for this movie. I don't recall any major artifacting. The audio for the film is very good as well but what makes this DVD shine is the special features. Not only do you get the regular trailer, the international trailer but you get two Alliyah music videos, the making of the music video "Try Again", you get many short documentaries, the HBO featurette and the behind-the-scenes vignette. The insights to how the film was filmed is so interesting, if you are a Jet Li or Alliyah fan, the extras are also a major reason to buy this DVD. Really interesting information from each actor and from those who worked behind-the-scenes. So, the DVD will definitely keep you busy for awhile.
So, you can't go wrong with this DVD. Very cool!!!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
There seems to be several films regarding this one. A story about corruption and property deals, a story about fathers and their children, a tentative Romeo and Juliet romance and of course martial arts and guns.

For those who like cross-culture, "Romeo Must Die", is for you! Jet Li who was fresh from "Lethal Weapon 4" really delivers in this action-packed movie. Playing Han was a big one for him. Aaliyah(1979-2001), the R&B sensation really got her acting chops in gear playing the alluring Trish O'Day, who is being shadowed by the bumbling Maurice, played by the funny, Anthony Anderson, but I personally would hoped for more of Michael Wong and less of Anthony Anderson (his constant 'Dim Sum' refrain being quite irritating) but the actors act, the plot moves and the film is enjoyable enough.

I'd enjoyed the X-ray effects of the movie whenever a fight was going to happen. I liked the part when Han refused to a fight a woman, he used Trish to fight her with. It looked more of a swing dance to me. Since Trish's words backed him up, the enemy was impaled through the heart. And after the final fight, Trish's father (Delroy Lindo), wanted to meet Han for himself, and I 'm glad he got that chance, I think it was silly for him to demand a handshake from him, but hey, he wanted to who the "cat" was, and make sure he did. Han never declined any offer only to know who the troublemaker behind the "war" was.

Before anyone remember seeing Aaliyah in "Queen of the Damned" (which I personal dislike), look into this film first. I Love Jet Li, but this film is not as good as 'Kiss of the Dragon' but better than 'The One' and 'Cradle 2 the Grave' but inferior to Jet Li's Hong Kong movies.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2000
Format: DVD
Romeo Must Die was an all-in-all great movie. It is basically about a "war" between 2 families fighting for Waterfront property, and Jet Li (Han)and Aaliyah (Trish) somehow ends up meeting in a cab. Jet Li than follows her a lot and from there, their relationship grows. The end reveals surprise. (not really, just from what should have been).The fight scenes were magnificent and somewhat resembled the Matrix.(same creator). The X-ray effect was new to me and pretty cool (shows what happens in the body). Although, compared to another Chinese TV show (Yan Zi Li 3), the fight scenes were a so-so. They don't show China and Hong Kong true fighting skills though. Although the trick over and under the leg with the hose was pretty entertaining. If you're really interested in some gravity-warping fighting, go rent a Chinese ancient movie.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2000
Format: DVD
With Jet Li's second US film, Romeo Must Die, US viewers get to see a bit more of why this guy is so famous in Asia. Following a jailed HK police officer named Han (Li) on his quest to learn the truth about his brother's death. Upon arrival he meets up with Trish (Aaliyah), the love interest. The film is truly a mixed bag. the way it is shot and filmed is truly slick, with a smooth new-style camera and hip visuals. the opening scenes are especially well done. one cannot fault any of the acting, and while most of the actors play their usual roles, they do it very well, so it's a safe bet. the music and sound is also well done, with a good mix of rap/hip-hop and a few moments of techno (the Crystal Method make their movie debut) and some good original scores. no problems here. the movie begins to fall apart with some of its more Matrix-esque fight scenes. while the X-ray effect is cool, the digital jumps and moves look awful. the SFX are truly cruddy and jagged, lacking the smooth effects of the matrix or wire work. i mean, this is Jet Li, not Keanu Reeves. while Keanu did a good job with his kung-fu bits in the matrix, jet li is the wire work master. he does not need bad CGI to make him look good. and especially not CGI that breaks all the laws of physics. all in all, a fun ride. the story is nothing new, though it is well told. Jet and Aaliyah are great together, and there are even some moments of great humor through the movie's dark story. Russell Wong does a good job as Kai, though he is a little under used in the movie. i must say that it will win no awards, but was a good action flick. there are several truly cool moments, and for the most part, one can just turn off their worries and enjoy some decent fights and acting. but i must say it. the title is really bad. it does not fit the movie at all.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2002
Format: DVD
Romeo Must Die is typical of a number of recent action-adventure movies. Fill the screen with lots of special effects, with heavy emphasis on explosions. Raise the decibel level on the sound track. Mix in a lot of jarring hip-hop music, paying scant attention to whether or not the vocals have anything to do with the movie. Give all the bad guys flashy cars to drive, lots of great jewelry to wear and houses to live in that are bigger and grander than those lived in by the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Finally, make the villains more likable by implying that tactics such as drug dealing and homicide are the only means certain people have to succeed and that most of them plan to go straight one day soon. The result of all this hocus pocus is that it will hopefully divert the audience so much that it will not realize that the movie has a dumb plot, if it has one at all. Or maybe to make them too dazed and confused to care.
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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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
"Romeo Must Die" is a great martial arts film starring the highly talented Jet Li. His style of fighting cannot be compared to, by any means. Also starring in this movie are Aaliyah, Delroy Lindo, and Russel Wong (another talented martial artist). With great action sequences, a great plot, and cute humor, you're sure to enjoy this movie. I have owned this movie since it's theater release, and have watched it nearly every day...and have not gotten tired of it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2002
Format: DVD
Her stardom was soaring high and the highly talented Aaliyah made her first screen debut. Aaliyah's debut in "Romeo Must Die" will show, not her singing ability, but acting ability. Aside from selling millions of records, this movie and "Queen of the Damned" will be remembered for her participation alone. Her screen presence is electrifying and you won't be able to take your eyes off of her. Aaliyah's energy and enthusiasm made this movie worth while. The beautiful singer/actress definitely had 'IT'.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2000
Format: DVD
This movie is Jet Li's first lead role in an english language film and hopefully many more will follow. Romeo must die has an ok plot, good acting and great fight scenes.
Romeo must die is a martial arts version of, as if the title wasn't a dead give away, Romeo and Juliet. In this movie, Han (Jet Li) escapes from prison in Hong Kong and comes to the US only to find his brother murdered. While searching for his brothers murderer, he accidentally bumps into Trish (Aaliyah), who just happens to be the daughter of his father's primary rival.
Jet Li plays an excellent little tough guy. He is neither as wooden as Chou Yun Fat or as goofy as Jackie Chan. He is, however, an excellent martial artist and a pleasure to watch in action. Beyond being a great entertainer, Aaliyah's acting is also credible and she is absolutely beautiful. There is obvious on screen chemistry between the two, however, it is never developed in the film.
The supporting cast also make solid contributions to the movie. In particular Anthony Anderson makes a great funny man as Maurice. Russel Wong is an accomplished martial artist that helps Jet Li to showcase his talents.
The DVD is a good buy. The film looks good, the sound is excellent (a little too much bass) and it has an excellent sound track. There are lots of interesting extras on the DVD. I don't particularly care for the "making of" documentaries that come with most DVDs because they are little more than extended commercials. Fortunately on this DVD, the music videos are good and the special effects featurettes are interesting.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 4, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Don't get me wrong, this movie blows "Black Mask" out of the universe, but it's still not what Jet's truly capable of putting out. The fight scenes are great (especially when he disarms a group of guys with wire ties as he goes along), but the use of wires here and there make it seem unrealistic. Jet, you're an awesome fighter and don't need to use wires, so lose them, ok?? Not as much flying around as in BM, but it's still there. Russell Wong makes an incredible villian, and his martial arts work is fluid and graceful. We definitely need to see him in something else soon! The plot is stretched reeeeeally thin, but it's still good. I'd suggest seeing it at least once, but I don't know that you'll go for repeated viewings. "Fist of Legend" is the best of the best of his, so get to that one too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Jet Li never achieved Jackie Chan's level of commercial fame in the United States, but he has the honor of having helped create some notable cult action classics; and I know for sure that "Romeo Must Die" is a cult classic because I rented it about a million times after it was released. An ambitious modern evolution of the urban/kung fu meldings from Bruce Lee's heyday, "Romeo" is a competent martial arts vehicle and a surprisingly entertaining blend of action-comedy and crime picture, not to mention a satisfying solo vehicle for Jet Li and a promising big screen debut for the late Aaliyah. Director Andrzej Bartkowiak has yet to outdo himself.

The story: as tensions between competing African-American and Asian underground syndicates reach a breaking point, a young martial artist (Li, Hero) escapes from prison to redeem his brother's death - a quest for which he will be joined by the daughter of an ex-crime lord (Aaliyah, Queen of the Damned).

Part of this movie's selling point - both in advertising and pre-production - was that it was a hip-hop version of Shakespeare's play of a similar title, but that's largely a bunch of nonsense: any similarities between the two are vague, and were it not for the title, few would have spotted them. Nevertheless, I did appreciate the amazingly chaste romantic rendition between the Li and Aaliyah: it's classy and pulled off pretty well considering the latter had never acted before and the former was speaking English for the first time. The rest of the story - penned by Mitchell Kapner (The Whole Nine Yards) - is also pretty good; surprisingly intelligent, with a good twist at the end, and considering the antics of the future lookalike vehicles Bartkowiak directed (nuclear diamonds, anyone?), it's also fairly realistic and relevant in regards to interracial relationships. Considering the type of movie, I'm amazed at how well-acted it was, even without Delroy Lindo (The Cider House Rules) adding his theatrical clout to the cast.

Of course, realism takes a nosedive during the five or six hand-to-hand fights, which were choreographed during that period following The Matrix when every action director was trying to emulate Yuen Woo-Ping. Corey Yuen's one of my favorite fight wranglers of all time, but he deviates from his usual style a bit by rewriting the laws of physics 100% to make Jet stay in the air long enough to complete complex kicking combinations. Sometimes I like the fight scenes a lot, sometimes I'm bored with 'em, but on any day, I'm glad that villain Russell Wong gets to show off his moves during the finale with Jet; their fight wasn't the greatest, but after busting his butt throughout the still-unreleased "Vanishing Son" franchise, he deserved a solid mainstream platform like this to show off. There's also a pretty creative fight with Francoise Yip (Rumble in the Bronx) in here, following a motorcycle chase scene that was later plagiarized by John Woo in Mission - Impossible II.

Much like the director, Jet Li rarely topped himself as far as his career in America is concerned. With this film, he established himself as less of a comedian than Jackie Chan and more or a martial artist, and would go on to collect a loyal but relatively limited fanbase with this image. Future vehicles would show off his dramatic and charisma-related deficiencies, but in "Romeo", these are dutifully covered by both the smart script and the other performers. It's the Jet Li vehicle for the most general action fan, I think, and I can't think of too many folks who'd be genuinely disappointed in it. Buy.
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