Romeo Must Die

Bomb Rating: 

It takes a good 15 minutes of film before Jet Li arrives on screen, and it might as well be an eternity. You see, if you're real savvy about film, you'll wonder long before then what's taking the filmmaker so much time given the film's seemingly simple formula for success: Jet Li appears. Jet Li kicks ass. It doesn't take a member of MENSA to figure that out. Unfortunately, first-time director Adrezej Bartkowiak would be lucky to spell MENSA.

When Jet does appear, he's escaping from a prison in Hong Kong, which is the first of many utterly pointless sequences. You see, the goal here is to get Jet to America, where he can investigate why his brother was killed. I have some more news for Bartkowiak and whatever "see Dick shoot" screenwriter wrote this cow pie: Jet can just show up. He can walk off a plane. We know what he's about. His escape from prison is entirely irrelevant and useless to the story.

However, useless and irrelevant is mostly what this film is about. Jet's brother is offed because he's in the middle of a gang war between his father and Isaak O'Day (Delroy Lindo) and yes, this all bears a resemblance to "Romeo and Juliet." There's just the loveliest scene of Isaak hitting golf balls while talking to his second, Mac (Isaiah Washington). Then there's a scene in which his daughter, Trish (Aaliyah - *note to self: avoid actresses with one name), starts dancing in her store for no reason. Is this a Hal Hartley film or a martial arts movie? The gang conflict revolves around bringing an NFL franchise to San Francisco. I was waiting for the war to really heat up once these two morons found out San Francisco already had an NFL team, but this appeared not to be an issue.

Jet has a few fighting scenes, but even those are messed up. What is with Hollywood's direction of martial arts? It has all the appeal of having your prostate surgery done by an epileptic. How did they come up with the idea that shaking the camera made the martial arts better? It's like suggesting that sex would be better if the participants were on fire.

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