"Romeo Must Die"
Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak.
Written by Eric Bernt and John Jarrell.
Starring Jet Li, Delroy Lindo, Russell Wong and DMX.
Release Year: 2000
Review Date: 3/27/00
While I won't get onto too much of an Oscar
soapbox, I must say that "The Matrix" was robbed. Somehow, it won
four Oscars on Sunday night, and it didn't win Best Picture! Sure,
it wasn't nominated...but, c'mon! Everyone I know--with the
exception of Brandon "Moose" Larson, a member of Bellview--loved
that movie. It's all bullshit...I was reminded, by watching the
spring break festivities on MTV this weekend (or, as I like to call
them: heaven), that "The Matrix" will probably win Best Picture at
the MTV Movie Awards later this summer. Thank goodness for "music"
Anyway, being that this is the last Bellview
for about a month, I wanted to go out with a bang. Logic told me
that Jet Li--as you may remember, the star of my-now-favorite
martial arts film, "Fist of Legend"--would be that bang.
This movie is a piece of shit. Which is a
shame, considering the fact that there are good things in place for
Mr. Li, including an attempt at a decent story, and a great acting
debut from Aaliyah, the R&B star that got the nod as Li's love
interest in this movie. The biggest problem with all of this is the
shameless promotion of this film that I have had to suffer through
for the last two months--it sells it as an action movie! So, I come
to the movie, with some expectation of seeing...an action movie!!
Chuck "Cameo Cookies: Word Up!" Longer and "Lovely" Laura Wilber
were thinking the same thing...and, you know what? There is almost
And when there is action, the movie does two
seemingly ridiculous things:
1) The movie's world is clearly based in
reality, but its fight scenes are not. This means that, on any
given occasion, Li is swooping through the air, kicking six guys at
once, *in succession* and without hitting the ground. Or, his
character jumps 15 feet in the air. No one in the movie seems
mystified by this, as if all of the Asian characters should just be
able to jump that high. I accept that as an action movie, I'm going
to have to bend the rules a bit...but, this is "The Matrix", without
the sci-fi storyline. These hi-jinks made sense in Li's other
American release, "Black Mask" (not made for American audiences, but
still released here), but that was more of a fantasy.
2) Half of the fight scenes don't even
involve Jet Li!! He is the only reason I came to see this movie!
Delroy Lindo? NO! Russell Wong? NO!! DMX, featured in all of two
scenes? Nope. So, where the fuck is Li? I don't think Jet Li is
even in a third of this movie, yet he is the star. I think that Li
is extremely engaging, and even when the pathetic story didn't work,
I found myself still interested in watching Li work. It is a shame
that the director didn't think the same thing.
It gets worse: its dueling family storyline
is so loaded with cliches, the three of us were trying to guess the
time of the film when Jet Li's brother was going to get killed.
(Chuck got it right: 17 minutes after the brother's "don't worry,
everything is going to be all right" speech, he gets tossed out of a
window. I am NOT giving anything away by telling you about that
scene, trust me!) And, sometimes during fight scenes, the
filmmakers thought that they would be all sly, and show x-ray vision
shots of bad guys meeting their demise. This worked the first
time...but, by the third, I was wishing that I had left after the
But, hey, you could do worse: I like seeing
people getting beat up, and although sparse, there are a couple of
cool looking stunts, and it is clear that Li has a future making
movies here in America. The soundtrack is good, and if you go with
cool people like me and Chuck, you will find yourself dancing in
your seat like we were. And, Aaliyah is hot as hell...I'm anxious
to see what route she takes for her next movie. Just be sure to see
this one during the daytime, preferably when it is raining and you
have got nothing else to do.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard