Romeo Is Bleeding

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Romeo Is Bleeding
Romeo is bleeding ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPeter Medak
Produced by
Written byHilary Henkin[1]
Music byMark Isham[1]
CinematographyDariusz Wolski[1]
Edited byWalter Murch[1]
Distributed byGramercy Pictures[1]
Release date
  • 1993 (1993) (UK)
  • 4 February 1994 (1994-02-04) (US)
Running time
109 minutes[1]
  • United Kingdom[1]
  • United States[1]
Budget$10 million
Box office$3.3 million (US)

Romeo Is Bleeding is a 1993 neo-noir crime film starring Gary Oldman and Lena Olin, directed by Peter Medak. Its title was taken from a song by Tom Waits. The film was critically unsuccessful and a box office bomb, although the central performances by Oldman and Olin have garnered praise.


Jack Grimaldi, a corrupt cop who does favors for the Mafia in exchange for large fees, has a loving wife, Natalie, and an adoring mistress, Sheri. He thinks he has it all, until both the cops and mob are outwitted by a psychopathic Russian female mob assassin, Mona Demarkov.

Italian crime boss Don Falcone orders Jack to deal with Demarkov. Jack is unable to kill her; she seduces and makes a fool of him. Falcone, disappointed in Jack's ineptitude, orders one of his toes amputated. Realizing he has endangered both his wife and mistress, Jack instructs Natalie to leave the city immediately, giving her all the payoff money he's saved as well as instructions where to meet him out West when the time is right. Jack ends his affair with Sheri and puts her on a train out of the city. Jack tries to hunt Demarkov but soon realizes that he is putty in her hands. He is attracted to her sexually and no match for her professionally. Mona forces him to help her bury Falcone alive, then offers to pay Jack to help her fake her own death.

Although he obtains phony papers for her, she refuses to pay and attempts to strangle him. He shoots and wounds her in the arm, then tries to drive away with her handcuffed in the back seat. Mona escapes by hooking her legs around his neck, causing him to crash the car. She slithers out through the shattered windshield without freeing her hands. Mona lures Jack to an abandoned warehouse. He again attempts to kill her but is tricked into shooting Sheri instead. Mona fixes the corpse so as to suggest that it was she, and not Sheri, who died. Mona handcuffs Jack to the bed and they have sex.

She turns Jack in, copping a plea deal that will indict Jack for the multiple murders that she tricked him into committing. The police arrange a confrontation between Jack and Demarkov at the courthouse, as he is heading in and she is heading out. She threatens to kill his wife. Jack grabs a gun from the ankle holster of a fellow officer and shoots her dead. He turns the gun on himself, only to discover that the revolver is empty. Instead of being sent to prison for the murder, he is given a commendation. This frees him to begin a new life out West, with the new identity of "Jim Daugherty". He imagines Natalie's return, but, as Mona told him, Natalie is long gone, never to return. A despondent Jim is resigned to living life alone in a remote desert town.



The film was filmed on location in New York City in Coney Island, Bushwick Manhattan, and Queens.

Aborted Bon Jovi involvement[edit]

Jon Bon Jovi wrote the song "Always" for the film but withheld the track after he was dissatisfied with a preview screening. Bon Jovi in 2004 recalled: "The script was great: the movie wasn't."[2]


Chicago Sun-Times writer Roger Ebert said that while Oldman is "unsurpassable in roles of this type", the film is "an exercise in overwrought style and overwritten melodrama, and proof that a great cast cannot save a film from self-destruction."[3] Todd McCarthy of Variety called it a "heavy dose of ultra-violent neo-noir" whose "far-fetched plotting eventually goes so far over the top that pic flirts with inventing a new genre of film noir camp."[4] The New York Times journalist Janet Maslin praised the work of Oldman and Olin, calling the former a "master craftsman" but concluded, "For all its promise, and for all the brittle beauty of Dariusz Wolski's cinematography, Romeo Is Bleeding eventually collapses under the weight of its violent affectations."[5]

Deviating from critical consensus, Peter Travers in Rolling Stone called the film a "scorcher of a thriller" with a "knockout performance" by Olin. He wrote, "It will be a shame if audiences don't get the joke".[6]

Romeo Is Bleeding holds a 22% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes based on 36 reviews with an average score of 4.5/10.[7] MSN Movies wrote, "While not a great movie – or even a good movie, according to most critics – Gary Oldman's performance as corrupt cop Jack Grimaldi is still highly regarded".[8] In 2011, Josh Winning of Total Film commented, "Oldman's proficiency with accents comes to the fore as he perfectly narrates this film noir... this is up there as one of his best ever roles."[9]


Box office[edit]

The film debuted poorly[11] and grossed $3.6 million in the US on a $10 million budget.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Romeo Is Bleeding (1994)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  2. ^ 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong (DVD). 2004. 7 minutes in. Island Records.
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Romeo Is Bleeding Movie Review (1994) - Roger Ebert".
  4. ^ McCarthy, Todd (15 September 1993). "Review: 'Romeo Is Bleeding'".
  5. ^ Maslin, Janet (4 February 1994). "Reviews/ Film; The Secret Extra-Marital Life of a New York City Policeman". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Rolling Stone review.
  7. ^ Romeo Is Bleeding Movie Reviews, Pictures,; accessed 28 March 2014.
  8. ^ Romeo Is Bleeding profile, MSN Movies; retrieved 30 July 2013.
  9. ^ Winning, Josh. "Romeo Is Bleeding: The film chameleon's greatest moments", Total Film, 11 April 2011; retrieved 4 October 2011.
  10. ^ Romeo is Bleeding profile,; accessed 28 March 2014.
  11. ^ "Weekend Box Office: 'Ace Ventura' Detects a Winning Take". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-01.
  12. ^ Romeo Is Bleeding – Box Office Data; accessed 28 March 2014.

External links[edit]