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ROMEO MUST DIE is the story of fathers and sons, of the importance of blood, of star-crossed lovers willing to risk their lives for their love. Two warring families, one Chinese, one African American, are fighting for control of the Oakland waterfront. It's an eye for an eye as members of each gang keep turning up dead--including the son of Ch'u Sing, the Chinese gang leader, which escalates the war to epic proportions. Into this fray comes Han Sing (Jet Li), Ch'u's other son, a cop who has escaped from a Hong Kong prison where he was serving time for not arresting his father and brother. Han soon becomes a little too friendly with Trish O'Day (Aaliyah), the daughter of Isaak O'Day (Delroy Lindo), the leader of the African American gang. The growing romance between Han and Trish parallels the growing body count.
ROMEO MUST DIE is a fast-paced, hip-hop retelling of the classic Shakespeare tale. A thumping soundtrack and wicked special effects--including martial arts battles in which the fighters virtually fly through the air--add to the excitement. Jet Li and Aaliyah turn in fine performances laced with just the right amount of comedy. Director Andrzej Bartkowiak has a keen visual sense--he previously served as cinematographer on such films as THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE, SPECIES, and SPEED--that pumps up such standard fare as car chases, prison breaks, and even a pickup football game. The film includes an awesome special effect that reveals a person's skeleton as he dies--it has to be seen to be believed.
Mitchell Kapner - Screenwriter
Michael Bolton - Production Designer, NOT singer
Michael S. Bolton - Production Designer, NOT singer
Timbaland - Music Producer
Aaliyah - Singer/Actress
Aaliyah Houghton - Singer/Actress
Eric Bernt - Screenwriter
DB Woodside - Star
Andrzej Bartkowiak - Director Of Photography, SPECIES (1995)
Isaiah Washington - Actor
John Jarrell - Screenwriter
Francoise Yip - Chinese Actress
Jet Li - Hong Kong Actor
Jim Van Wyck - Producer
Delroy Lindo - American supporting actor,
DMX - Rapper/Actor
Glen MacPherson - Director of Photography
Stanley Clarke - Composer
Joel Silver - American Producer
Russell Wong - Actor/"Eat A Bowl Of Tea"
Anthony Anderson - Actor, LIBERTY HEIGHTS/THE DEPARTED
Derek Brechin - Editor, ROMEO MUST DIE (2000)
Derek G. Brechin - Editor, ROMEO MUST DIE (2000)
Theatrical release: MARCH 22, 2000 Filmed in Vancouver and on location in California. Jet Li appeared in Aaliyah's video for "Try Again." The soundtrack includes songs by Aaliyah, DMX, Fatboy Slim, Confidential, Groove Armada, Destiny's Child, the Crystal Method, and Joe, among others. There are two versions of the officially released soundtrack; one is edited because of language. ROMEO MUST DIE is Jet Li's English-language debut film. Jet Li said that ROMEO MUST DIE is "essentially ROMEO AND JULIET with the two warring families being African American and Chinese .This film has a solid story and the action sequences come very naturally." Russell Wong, who plays Kai, said of Li, "He is truly the Mikhail Baryshnikov of the martial arts." The name of Trish's boutique is Serpentine Fire. ROMEO MUST DIE's special effects team also worked on THE MATRIX. ROMEO MUST DIE is Andrzej Bartowiak's feature-film directing debut and Aaliyah's feature-film acting debut. Producer Joel Silver said, "Jet has enabled us to make all of the action in this film completely authentic, without fooling the audience. All the fighting, all the stunts and wire work--it's all Jet." Li said that the fight scene in the beating room, when he's supended upside down, was one of the toughest scenes to film in his 25-movie career thus far. Li's Hong Kong choreographer, Corey Yuen, did the martial arts choreography for ROMEO MUST DIE.
"...A style-drenched, kick-butt, music-fueled, Kung hop actioner that assiduously devotes itself to devising the most dazzling and inventive martial arts sequences..." Variety, p.25-33
"...Russell Wong brings a malevolent energetic charm to gang member Kai, while Isaiah Washington exudes taut fury..." - 11/01/2000 Sight and Sound, p.62
"...ROMEO MUST DIE has a great look and an edgy feel....The film's kinetic energy is well-matched by Stanley Clarke and Timbaland's terrific score..." - 03/22/2000 Los Angeles Times, p.F5
"...[With] loads of cool chop-socky action..." - 11/01/2000 Total Film, p.94