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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Romeo Must Die (2000)



Reviews and Comments

Romeo Must Die is a vehicle for Jet Li that, as the title suggests, involves a (tame) romance across social classes, specifically between black and Chinese crime families engaged in a business war that seems to escalate occasionally into outright violence. This isn't a romantic movie, though; this is a pure action flick with lots of male posturing, computer-assisted fight scenes, and the usual array of predictable doublecrosses and backstabbings.

I'd have liked Romeo Must Die more if it had made one shred of sense. None of it has even a suggestion of reality about it. The grand schemes of the crime families would never work in the real world. The characters would handle situations differently than they do. Most relevantly, the fight scenes would not work. Li's aerial acrobatics defy all rules of physics -- real physics and action movie physics. They are simply not believable, and that's sudden death for an action movie, which depends on the illusion of danger to work. Romeo Must Die can't seem to conjure the illusion of anything: we are terribly aware, throughout, that we are watching a movie, and one with a contrived script performed by actors that don't have much chemistry together at that.