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Romeo Must Die

The fashion for repackaging Shakespeare has now gone full circle in Hollywood, with Romeo and Juliet being delivered in a kung fu format! Romeo must die is a modern rewrite of the Shakespeare classic with the warring families as two families in differing organised crime syndicates. Jet Li plays Han the Romeo character.
Son of a triad boss, Han is in a Hong Kong prison after taking the rap for his father's crimes. Han breaks out after hearing his brother has been murdered, in San Francisco. The murder is shrouded in mystery - Han's brother's attitude got him in trouble at a club with boys from a rival gang, headed up by Isaak O'Day(Delroy Lindo). O'Day's daughter Trish is a good apple in a bad bunch and tries to do good by working with kids, until Han crosses her path rubbing both families the wrong way.

The director of the film, Andrzej Bartkowiak fulfils a promise to Li, after working together in Lethal weapon 4 Bartkowiak promised Li a leading role. The direction is very snappy, with little pauses for breath for either audience or cast as they kick and chop their way across San Francisco. The plot is quite far removed from the original tale the title suggests, apart from two warring "families" and the offspring romantically pairing up, it is hard to find anymore similarities. This works in the stories favour, making it fresher than other rewrites and keeping the audience one step behind the story.
This film will probably be remembered in years to come for its groundbreaking effects, giving an x-ray view of a victims body as he is beaten up by Li's impressive moves. This along with the same effects team as the matrix, flying kicks and slo-mo fight sequences are what makes the film.
All in all the movie is a good kung-fu beat em up with an above average storyline, giving Li a great forum to demonstrate his super-slick moves. The movie is probably a vehicle for li's talents with the story line as stage for all the hand to hand combat. A Good "lad" movie that will no doubt have a few boys flying over park benches on the way home.

© Copyright Koolmag Ltd 2000


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