Romeo Must Die
|Romeo Must Die|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Andrzej Bartkowiak|
|Produced by||Joel Silver
Jim Van Wyck
|Written by||Mitchell Kapner (story)
and Delroy Lindo
|Music by||Stanley Clarke|
|Editing by||Derek G. Brechin|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Running time||115 minutes|
Romeo Must Die is a 2000 American action film directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak, his directorial debut, and starring Jet Li, Aaliyah, Anthony Anderson, Delroy Lindo, Isaiah Washington, Russell Wong, and features action and fight choreography by Corey Yuen. It is considered Jet Li's breakout role in the English speaking American film industry.
The film's plot is similar to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but instead of the last name, the families feud over race. The movie's setting was Oakland, California, but other than a few establishing shots, the film was entirely shot in Vancouver, British Columbia. This film was the debut of R&B singer Aaliyah as an actress.
As the movie opens, Po Sing (John Kit Lee) is waiting for someone unknown in an African-American club when Kai (Russell Wong) and his Asian henchmen come in and confront the owner of the club and his bouncers. After a brief fight, all are thrown out by the owner before the meeting can take place. The next day, Po is found murdered.
Fearing retribution, real estate developer (and gang leader) Isak O’Day (Delroy Lindo) arranges for his henchmen to place security on both of his children. Meanwhile, Po’s brother, Han (Jet Li), learns of the murder in the Hong Kong prison where he is serving time. After starting a fight in the mess hall, he escapes from prison by overpowering the guards who took him to an isolation cell for punishment and disguising himself as one of them.
Han makes his way to Oakland, where he learns that a gang war seems to have erupted between black and Asian gang families, including both O’Day and Han and Po’s father, Ch’u Sing (Henry O), even while the two are apparently engaged in a joint business venture. He also learns that his brother called O’Day’s daughter Trish’s (Aaliyah) record store the day before he was killed. After a chance encounter with her, he follows her and learns that Po may have actually been calling Trish’s brother, Colin (D.B. Woodside).
At his brother’s funeral Han confronts his estranged father, blaming him for failing to keep Po safe as he promised he would after he helped the both of them flee to America to escape the Chinese authorities, an action which resulted in his own imprisonment especially when Han was a former police officer. Han learns that the war is apparently over control of property along the Oakland waterfront. Meanwhile, O’Day also reveals to his son that the deal he is working on will get their family out of the crime business for good, but that he must be careful. However, the apparent war over territory is really a cover for the two sides secretly working together to put together a deal for ownership of a new NFL franchise in Oakland.
Colin and his girlfriend are killed by unseen assailants by being thrown out of his high rise apartment window. As Han comforts Trish, he learns that Po had put together a list of businesses that were either destroyed or being threatened with destruction for failing to sell their properties, and that Po was trying to contact Colin to warn him about this. The two visit one of the few remaining properties on the list and learn that the owner, a Chinese man, and his employees have been killed by a Chinese hit team. When Han confronts his father over this, he tries to deflect suspicion by telling him Trish may have been involved.
It is revealed that both sides in the fake war are using violence and intimidation to force the owners of all the waterfront properties to relinquish their rights over their properties. As Trish and Han visit the last property on the list, the nightclub where Po originally intended to meet Colin, O’Day’s chief lieutenant Mac and his goons kill the club’s owner and kidnap both Trish and Han, taking them to separate locations. Han escapes by overpowering his guards.
Ch’u Sing has the other Chinese crime lords killed, ensuring that he will have control over their business interests. O’Day, Ch’u Sing, and the developer arranging the NFL deal meet at the Oakland Men’s club to provide the deeds for the properties they now control. Sing takes a multi-million dollar payment and leaves, but O’Day refuses his payment, stating that his payment will be in the form of a share of ownership of the new franchise. He is betrayed, however, by Mac, who threatens Trish to force O’Day to hand over the deeds to the developer. O'Day, enraged by Mac's betrayal, grabs a gun and shoots Mac's men but is grievously wounded in the process. Han arrives and pursues Mac to the roof of the club. The developer escapes via helicopter, but not before losing all of the deeds after Mac fires repeatedly at the helicopter. Mac reveals to Han that it was Ch’u Sing’s lieutenant Kai who had Po killed, just before Trish kills him.
At his father’s house, Han engages in a brutal fight with Kai, Kai burns him with a barbecue pit and rips some skin of his hand and tackle throws him through a wooden fence, Han exits the destroyed wooden fence and with the look of death in his eye rips two pieces of cloth of his shirt and wraps it around his hand, he then breaks one of Kai's ribs and after breaks his spine, finally killing him. He then confronts his father, knowing now that his father had his own son killed "like running over a dog in the street" for no other reason than that he was interfering with a business deal. He tells his father that he will answer for his crimes, either to the American authorities or to the other Chinese families—no one will go to prison for him this time. As Han walks away, his father commits suicide with a handgun. He finds Trish waiting for him outside and the two walk away from the house together.
- Jet Li – Han Sing
- Aaliyah – Trish O'Day
- Russell Wong – Kai
- Delroy Lindo – Isaak O'Day
- Isaiah Washington – Mac
- Anthony Anderson – Maurice
- Henry O – Ch'u Sing
- D.B. Woodside – Colin O'Day
- Jon Kit Lee – Po Sing
- Edoardo Ballerini – Vincent Roth
- DMX – Silk
- Matthew Harrison – Dave
- Terry Chen – Kung
- Derek Lowe – Chinese Messenger
- Ronin Wong – New Prisoner
- Kendall Saunders – Colin's Girlfriend
- Benz Antoine – Crabman
- Grace Park – Asian Dancer
- Byron Lawson – jailer
- Pablo Lopez - a mexican
According to the documentary The Slanted Screen, Han and Trish were supposed to have a kissing scene, which explains the title of Romeo, but this was met with derision from a pre-screening with an urban audience. Jet Li stated on his personal website that they had filmed both versions of the scene (with kiss and without), and decided to use the one without instead because it would be "somewhat strange and awkward" for Han to have witness his father's suicide and then to come out and kiss someone.
Box office 
Romeo Must Die debuted at No.2 at the U.S. box office behind Erin Brockovich. The film was produced with a budget of US$25,000,000. In North America, Romeo Must Die was a box office success, earning a strong $18,014,503 (2,641 theaters, $6,821 per screen average) in its opening weekend. Romeo Must Die's total North American gross is $55,973,336. The film's worldwide box office gross is $91,036,760.
The film's soundtrack, Romeo Must Die: The Album, is a hip hop/R&B compilation work released by Blackground Records released on March 28, 2000. It debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 selling 203,000 in its first week. The soundtrack sold 1.26 million copies by December 2000.
Produced by Aaliyah, Timbaland, Barry Hankerson, and Jomo Hankerson, it was recorded between May 1999 and January 2000. It includes four songs by Aaliyah, as well as works by Chante Moore, Destiny's Child, Ginuwine, Joe, Timbaland & Magoo and more. Three singles were released from the album: Aaliyah's number-one pop hit "Try Again", the Aaliyah/DMX duet "Come Back in One Piece", and Timbaland & Magoo's "We At It Again", which introduced Timbaland's younger brother, rapper Sebastian, to audiences. Q magazine included the soundtrack album in their list of the "5 Best Compilations of 2000".
Track listing 
- "Try Again" – 4:44 (Aaliyah)
- "Come Back in One Piece" – 4:18 (Aaliyah featuring DMX)
- "Rose in a Concrete World" (J Dub Remix) – 4:50 (Joe)
- "Rollin' Raw" – 3:59 (B.G. From Ca$h Money)
- "We At It Again" – 4:45 (Timbaland & Magoo)
- "Are You Feelin' Me?" – 3:10 (Aaliyah)
- "Perfect Man" – 3:47 (Destiny's Child)
- "Simply Irresistible" – 4:00 (Ginuwine)
- "It Really Don't Matter" – 4:12 (Confidential)
- "Thugz" – 4:12 (Mack 10 featuring The Comrades)
- "I Don't Wanna" – 4:16 (Aaliyah)
- "Somebody's Gonna Die Tonight" – 4:36 (Dave Bing featuring Lil' Mo)
- "Woozy" – 4:10 (Playa)
- "Pump the Brakes" – 4:27 (Dave Hollister)
- "This Is a Test" – 3:20 (Chante Moore)
- "Revival" – 4:57 (Non-A-Miss)
- "Come On" – 3:50 (Blade)
- "Swung On" – 3:15 (Stanley Clarke featuring Politix)
- Noxon, Christopher (2001-07-04). "Taking a Fast-Track Career in Stride". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- Jose Antonio Vargas (2007-05-25). "'Slanted Screen' Rues The Absence Of Asians". The Washington Post.
- Li, Jet. "Jet's Message 7". Retrieved 16 January 2012.
- Mitchell, Elvis (2000-03-22). "FILM REVIEW; Hip-Hop Joins Martial Arts but Lets Plot Muscle In". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
- Graham, Bob (2010-09-11). "Romeo Must Die' Flies On the Strength of Jet Li". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- Rene Rodriguez (2000-03-23). "Convoluted Subplots Kill Off `Romeo Must Die'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- "Romeo Must Die". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- "Martial arts moves get a hip-hop flair". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2010-12-15.
- Welkos, Robert W. (2000-03-28). "Weekend Box Office; 'Erin Brockovich' Holds Off 'Romeo'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-15.
- Natale, Richard (2000-04-03). "A 'Beauty' of a Weekend for Oscar Winner; Box office * Best picture award pays off; 'Brockovich' hangs on to the No. 1 spot. 'Skulls,' 'Fidelity' debut well.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-15.
- "Romeo Must Die at Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2010-09-29.
- Mathis, Dennis. "Romeo Must Die - Original Soundtrack : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved December 25, 2012.
- Christgau, Robert (May 30, 2000). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved December 25, 2012.
- Seymour, Craig (March 31, 2000). "Romeo Must Die Review". Entertainment Weekly (New York). Retrieved December 25, 2012.
- "Review: Romeo Must Die". Mixmag (London): 177. October 2000. Retrieved December 25, 2012.
- "Review: Romeo Must Die". Q (London): 119. November 2000. Retrieved December 25, 2012.
- Basham, David (December 29, 2000). "'NSYNC Album A Shoo-In For Biggest-Selling Record Of 2000". MTV News. MTV. Retrieved December 8, 2012.
- "5 Best Compilations of 2000". Q (London): 95. January 2001. Retrieved December 25, 2012.
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- Official website
- Romeo Must Die at the Internet Movie Database
- Romeo Must Die at Box Office Mojo
- Romeo Must Die at AllRovi