https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1953&reviewer=235

Romeo Must Die

Reviewed By Slyder
Posted 04/08/02 10:12:44

"Dies, It Dies"
1 stars (Total Crap)

Gentlemen welcome newcomer director Andrzej Bartkowiak. He’s the new guy, former cinematographer with an impressive record (Terms Of Endearment, The Verdict, Prizzi’s Honor, Thirteen Days, etc.). One day he finally makes up his mind, and goes on to pursue the dream that many cinematographers crave and chase: Be a director of a movie. So far, that has been a tough task. Jack Cardiff is one of the few that managed that transition successfully, but many haven't. Jan De Bont had only one good film in Speed but sunk with shit like Twister, Speed 2, and The Haunting. Janusz Kaminski flopped with Lost Souls. Now Bartkowiak can add his name on the list because his feature film debut sucked, AND IT SUCKED HARD. Oh, and furthermore, it wasted a great martial arts talent in Jet Li. My first experience with Li was in the Golden Harvest film, The Master, and he blew me away. The guy is an amazing martial arts artist, but this film fucks him in the foulest of ways.

Ok, ripped off Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, there are two gangs at war: the Blacks, headed by black honcho Isaak O’Day (Delroy Lindo), and the Asians, headed by Asian honcho Ch’u Sing (Henry O, seriously, that’s his name). Ch’u’s son, Po (Jonkit Lee) gets wasted, then later, Isaak’s son Colin (D.B. Woodside) also gets wasted. Han (Li), Po’s brother, who’s in jail in China (a scapegoat used by his dad) hears the news and escapes the prison and heads to the US (How he managed to get from China to the US without a passport or papers still puzzles me) to seek revenge. There he meets Isaak’s daughter Trish (the late Aalyiah), and both of course, fall in love. While Han looks for clues to track his brother’s murderer, he uncovers a plot to get rid of some old waterfronts to build… a… football… stadium.

Oh yeah, if you’re not stupid enough, you’ll immediately notice two things at the beginning of the film that immediately will make up the movie for you. You’ll notice that in the black side, Isaak’s right hand man Mac (Isaiah Washington looking like Puff Daddy) is the bad guy, as well as his Asian counterpart Kai (Russel Wong). How do you know? Hell, you can tell, by the way the act and appear, both guys are bad-asses, they got a smirky, sly face, a smile and attitude unlike the other guys, oh yeah, you can tell they’re the pieces that don’t fit in the puzzle. Great, we’ve entered “Predictable-land.” And furthermore, why is there a war over the building of a damn football stadium? This is interesting, I thought that war was on drugs and illegal shit you know. The plot is as shallow as an eye drop, and furthermore, it gets hit with a prop that fucks up many action flicks: IT’S BORING!!! Why the fuck didn’t this film concentrate on the gang war itself, lost of action guns explosions, shit why? Or why not into a love story? Cause honestly, I don’t see the big fucking point calling this movie “Romeo Must Die,” is there any real reason?

Now the action scenes, which include the many fights with Li, and a car chase over the streets of Oakland. The car chase scenes were poorly made since, hell, the car was like driving 35 mph all the time, and it was just pathetic to watch. I was already catching sleep when all this was happening. The martial arts scenes… I’ll get to that later.

Then we’re introduced into some HIGHLY unnecessary comedy relief, in the form of Anthony Anderson in the role of Maurice. Gosh, who the fuck dug out this fuck? The guy is never funny, and is highly annoying, and he’s supposed to be Trish’s bodyguard? Hell I wouldn’t leave my shoes with him. The guy was pathetic. For Christ sake Anthony, just die.

You know, I never really cared for Aaliyah’s work, whether it was in the movies or in music, but gosh, she sucks. Her performance is dreadful here, and I couldn’t stand her most of the time. Guess old Collin is right; singers shouldn’t act, since they don’t know how to act and worse, they damage their reputation by choosing this business as an exposure. Results: shit.

But man, Joel Silver and his bitch Bartkowiak had to trash a guy like Jet Li. Gosh, whoever thought that adding an X-ray-like close-up of somebody’s bones being broken off should be mutilated. What’s cool about that? I mean, sure, we can dig martial arts fights, and we know that breaking bones are part of the game, but come one, do we have to watch it with such details for fuck sake? Only a sick man would like to see how a bone gets broken, or how a bullet shreds a heart to a bunch of blobby shit. What the fuck? Watching that bullshit just made me sick, and at times I felt like changing the channel, and the boringness of the movie did not help either. Furthermore, was it necessary to tie Le with strings so we can see him jump, be suspended in the air and kick five guys at the same time? By the way do we have to add that it’s one of the lamest, most stupid-looking sequences ever on celluloid? I mean, I can’t believe this horseshit just anally raped Li. He’s a great martial artist, and it’s fun to watch him action (always has been), but to watch him do shit like this (check out the last sequence between Han and Kai), is just fucked up, and gives you more the feeling that the guy has no pride at all in showing his true talents, and rather have his talents wrapped up in half-assed FX, that look faker than ever, and rely on strings to do his fighting. Good God, can someone find me a Jackie Chan movie quickly?

In the end, forget it. Don’t waste your time in this flick. Go watch some Jackie Chan movie, or dig out the older Jet Li movies, which are way much better than this sack of shit. Gosh, this one of the most boring action films ever made. Bartkowiak should stick to cinematography, and Joel Silver should STOP, STOP making so many Matrix rip-offs. (0.5-5)

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