Man must have tried hard to fly. He may have stuck wings onto his body and
flapped them till they snapped or till he fell into an abyss. Even though the
aeroplane was invented, he couldn't fly on his own. If you describe jumping
in the air and staying there for a while as flying, then Jet Li has mastered
the art. He stays up there long enough to change his direction and execute different
kicks. Not only does he fly, those who come in touch with him do too. But despite
Li's breathtaking agility and the stylish settings, Romeo Must Die falls
short on one requirement - one that most movies seem to miss out on - a proper
We are shown the murder of a young man who was involved in a scuffle at a nightclub
the other night. He was Po, the son of a Chinese businessman, whose firm is
locked in a conflict with an African-American firm for the control of the Oakland
front. The dispute has been temporarily held as the two now join hands to sell
a part of the land to another firm that wants to build a NFL stadium. But that's
only on the outside, as Po's murder suggests.
To avenge his brother, Han (Jet Li) comes over from Hong Kong where he was
lodged in a prison. Don't even start asking how he does it. The method is as
cliched as they come. The publicity material conveys that Han is "a cop
of legendary proportions". The fact that he was a cop is alluded to only
once in the whole movie. Why was he incarcerated in Hong Kong? It is said, for
his father's sake. But still, why? Nevertheless, the plot drags on.
The other gang in the conflict is headed by Isaak 'O Day (Delrot Lindo). His
son too is thrown to his death from his apartment. The identity of the killers
is kept under wraps but it doesn't need a Sherlock Holmes to find out what's
cooking. But I will still let it be a secret. Isaak's daughter, Trish (played
by vivacious débutante Aaliyah) and Han inevitably meet, and they hit
it off, much to the discomfiture of the two families. The film is rounded off
with another couple of fight sequences, and a little, very little, emotion.
There are very few incidents that serve to make the plot a convincing one.
The hip-hop in the background merely serves to distract the audience's attention
from the fact that the ongoings lack substance. But the movie is essentially
meant to provide us with action and it does just that. The filmmakers may have
got the basics wrong but they sure knew how to make their USP stand out. The
fight sequences, with their x-ray vision, are expectedly enthralling.
Jet Li becomes sophisticated and now takes part in car chases. It is rumored
that Li is so fast that the camera can barely keep up with him. So, most of
the action sequences are in slo-mo. But that doesn't mean that the every move
of his, including walking, be slowed down.
Jet Li is not expected to be the next Robert de Niro or Al Pacino and that
helps. His boyish looks and a genuine smile make his presence an endearing one.
He is very much at ease while speaking English. This fact, combined with his
unquestionable flair for action, will win over a Hollywood that badly needs
a break from the musclemen's brand of action. But one only wishes that he gets
a bit of variety to work with.
And another question for the makers. Who is Romeo? And why must he die?