Romeo Must Die
Romeo Must Die is a 2000 American action film directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak in his directorial debut, featuring fight choreography by Corey Yuen, and starring Jet Li and Aaliyah. It follows a Chinese former police officer travelling to the United States in order to avenge his brother's death. He also falls in love with a rival mobster's beautiful daughter and they are struggling together against both the Chinese and the American mobs. The film's plot is loosely related to William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet but transplanted to contemporary Oakland, California, with the feuding families becoming African-American and Chinese gangs.
|Romeo Must Die|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Andrzej Bartkowiak|
|Story by||Mitchell Kapner|
|Edited by||Derek G. Brechin|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$91 million|
The film was released in the United States on March 22, 2000, and grossed $91 million against a production budget of $25 million. It is considered Jet Li's breakout role in the English speaking American film industry following his role in Lethal Weapon 4. The film contains the acting debut of R&B singer Aaliyah, who would later have a major starring role in Queen of the Damned (2002). This is the only film of hers to be released during her lifetime.
In a nightclub, tensions rise between Chinese-Americans and Blacks, leading to a physical altercation that is eventually broken up by the owner Silk.
Han Sing, a skilled martial artist and former police officer imprisoned in Hong Kong, learns that his brother Po has been found dead in Oakland, California. Han escapes and travels to America to investigate. There, his father and Triad boss Ch'u Sing is engaged in a joint business venture with Isaak O'Day, a black real estate developer and gang leader. The two have been acquiring properties along the waterfront to sell them to Vincent Roth, a businessman who plans to buy a new NFL franchise and build a stadium on the waterfront. Despite Ch'u's assurances that the deal is still in place, Isaak fears retribution following Po's death, and has his chief lieutenant Mac place security details on both of his children.
Making his way to Oakland, Han learns that his brother called Isaak's daughter Trish's record store the day before he was killed. Han assumes the identity of a cab driver and delivery man named Akbar. After a chance encounter, Han befriends Trish by helping her ditch her assigned security, and Trish deduces that Po was actually calling her brother, Colin.
At his brother's funeral, Han confronts his estranged father, blaming him for failing to keep his promise to protect Po after Han had helped them both flee to America to escape the Chinese authorities. Kai informs Han that the waterfront properties are divided between Black and Chinese businesses, and Po was a casualty of racial tensions that have recently escalated into a gang war. Meanwhile, Colin tells his father that Po's aborted meeting earlier at Silk's nightclub was to discuss information Po had that could end the gang war. Isaak explains that the deal with Roth will get their family out of the crime business for good, but warns Colin to be cautious. That night, someone kills Colin and his girlfriend by throwing them out of his high rise apartment.
As Han comforts Trish, he learns that Po wanted to show Colin a list of businesses that were either destroyed or being threatened for failing to sell their properties. The two visit one of the remaining businesses on Po's list but the Chinese owner and his employees have been killed. After killing the Chinese hitmen, Han questions his father, who clumsily deflects suspicion by suggesting Isaak may have used outside contractors. Trish and Han visit the last holdout on Po's list: Silk's nightclub. Mac interrupts their meeting to kill Silk and take his property deed, then abducts Trish and Han. At a remote location, Han escapes by overpowering Mac's henchmen and forces Maurice to divulge where Trish was taken. Meanwhile, Ch’u has his fellow crime lords killed to sell their properties and keep the money to himself.
Isaak and Ch’u meet with Roth at the Oakland Men's Club to sell Roth the deeds for the properties they now control. After Ch’u takes a multimillion-dollar payment and departs, Isaak refuses his payment, stating that his compensation will be in the form of an ownership share of the new franchise. An enraged Mac has Trish brought out as a hostage to force him to take the payout. He reveals to Isaak that the "gang war" was a ruse he and Ch'u concocted to cover their murder and intimidation of businessmen who refused to sign away their properties, and he also killed Colin. Isaak attacks him in a rage and Mac shoots him. Roth flees to the rooftop and escapes via helicopter but Mac shoots Roth's briefcase out of his hand, sending the deeds flying to the winds. Isaak shoots the henchman holding Trish, while Han arrives and confronts Mac about his brother. Mac reveals that it was Ch'u's right-hand man Kai who killed Po, and is about to shoot Han when Trish shoots and kills Mac first. Han and Isaak have a friendly introduction, then Trish waits with her father for an ambulance while Han leaves to confront Kai.
At the Sing compound, Kai and Han have an all-out fight. Kai burns Han's hands with hot coals but Han rips his shirt to improvise hand wraps, then finishes Kai by landing a kick on Kai's skull, completely breaking his spine. He confronts Ch'u over callously having his own son killed for no other reason than getting in the way of his business deal. With Kai dead, there is no one to protect Ch'u from answering for his crimes to either the American authorities or the other crime families. It is revealed that Han was originally in prison for this reason. As Han walks away, his father picks up his gun and commits suicide.
Han finds Trish waiting for him outside and the two walk away from the house together as the police arrive.
- Jet Li as Han Sing / Akbar
- Jonross Fong as young Han
- Aaliyah as Trish O'Day
- Isaiah Washington as Mac
- Russell Wong as Kai
- Delroy Lindo as Isaak O'Day
- DMX as Silk
- DB Woodside as Colin O'Day
- Henry O as Ch'u Sing
- Anthony Anderson as Maurice
- Edoardo Ballerini as Vincent Roth
- Françoise Yip as Meriana Sing
- Terry Chen as Kung
- Tseng Chang as Victor Ho
- Jon Kit Lee as Po Sing
- Ryan Jefferson Lowe as young Po
- Matthew Harrison as Dave
- Alvin Sanders as Calvin
- Manoj Sood as Akbar
- Alonso Oyarzun as Alonso
During the late 1990s, the producer Joel Silver became annoyed that he did not see anything fresh or original in American action films. For inspiration, he turned to Hong Kong action cinema, where Jet Li was an established movie star. In addition to the influence of Hong Kong martial arts films, the production team also introduced a new visual effect technique: the presentation of martial arts fighting in X-ray vision. They initially experimented with it for a single fight scene with Jet Li and tested it in front of an American audience, which gave an overwhelmingly positive response, before using it in more action scenes throughout the film.
The film's setting is Oakland, California, but other than a few establishing shots, film production was entirely in Vancouver, British Columbia. Principal photography began on May 3, 1999 and ended on July 23, 1999. Filming locations included Gastown, Grandview–Woodland, Vanier Park, Chinatown, Versatile Pacific Shipyards, and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
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 did not test well 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 latter because it would be "somewhat strange and awkward" for Han to have witnessed his father's suicide and then to come out and kiss someone.
Romeo Must Die debuted at No.2 at the U.S. box office behind Erin Brockovich, which had come out a week earlier. The film was produced with a budget of US$25 million. In North America, Romeo Must Die earned $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 has a 33% approval rating from 91 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator; the critical consensus reads: "In his second Hollywood movie, Jet Li impresses. Unfortunately, when he's not on screen, the movie slows to a crawl. Though there's some spark between Jet and Aaliyah, there isn't any threat of a fire. And as impressive as the action sequences are, some critics feel they are over-edited."
Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times called the movie "dreary" but said it was bound to be a hit due to its combination of martial arts action and hip hop. Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, Bob Graham likened it to The Matrix, describing it as a "cross-cultural kung fu extravaganza" that shines during Li's stunts. In his review for the Chicago Tribune, Rene Rodriguez said the film is "needlessly convoluted" and should not have added special effects on top of Li's stunts, which he said makes them seem less impressive because of the artificiality. Roger Ebert rated the film 1.5/4 stars and also criticized the use of computer-generated special effects in a martial arts film, saying that it "misses the point" of having audiences be impressed by realistic stunts. Aaliyah received praise for her role.
|Romeo Must Die: The Album|
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||March 28, 2000|
|Singles from Romeo Must Die|
The film's soundtrack, Romeo Must Die: The Album, is a hip hop and R&B soundtrack released by Blackground Records and Virgin Records America in association with Warner Bros. Records (who helped co-financed the soundtrack) on March 28, 2000. It debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 selling 203,000 in its first week. The soundtrack sold 1.3 million copies by the end of 2000 and 1.5 million copies in the US as of 2001.
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 & videos were released from the album: Aaliyah's number one pop hit "Try Again" (directed by Wayne Isham), Aaliyah and DMX duet "Come Back in One Piece" (directed by Little X), and Timbaland & Magoo's "We At It Again" (directed by Chris Robinson), 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".
|1.||"Try Again"||S. Garrett; Timothy Mosley||Aaliyah||4:45|
|2.||"Come Back in One Piece"||B. Worrell; E. Simmons; George Clinton; Irv Gotti; R. Meys; S. Garrett; W.O. Collins||Aaliyah featuring DMX||4:19|
|3.||"Rose in a Concrete World (J Dub Remix)"||J. Thomas; J.P. Thompson||Joe||4:50|
|4.||"Rollin' Raw"||B. Thomas; G. Dorsey||B.G. From Hot Boys||4:00|
|5.||"We At It Again"||G. Mosley; M. Barcliff; S. Garrett; Timothy Mosley||Timbaland & Magoo featuring Static Major & Sebastian||4:45|
|6.||"Are You Feelin' Me?"||M. Elliott; Timothy Mosley||Aaliyah||3:11|
|7.||"Perfect Man"||Beyoncé; Eric Seats; Rapture Stewart||Destiny's Child||3:47|
|8.||"Simply Irresistible"||B. Kidd; S. Garrett; Timothy Mosley||Ginuwine||4:01|
|9.||"It Really Don't Matter"||E. Ruiz; F. Ferraro; J. Walker; J.E. Figueroa; L.M. Vizzo; Scalere, R. Jr.||Confidential||4:08|
|10.||"Thugz"||A. Banks; D'Mon Dedrick Rolison; K. Garman; T. Anderson||Mack 10 featuring The Comrades||4:13|
|11.||"I Don't Wanna"||D. Scantz; J. Austin; Jazze Pha; Kevin Hicks||Aaliyah||4:16|
|12.||"Somebody's Gonna Die Tonight"||C. Loving; D. Bing; Irv Gotti; Robin Mays||Dave Bing featuring Lil' Mo||4:36|
|13.||"Woozy"||B. Bush; J. Peacock; M. Brown; S. Garrett||Playa||4:10|
|14.||"Pump the Brakes"||B. Bush; E. Seats; R. Stewart||Dave Hollister||4:27|
|15.||"This Is a Test"||Chanté Moore; Eric Seats; Rapture Stewart; Stephen Garrett||Chante Moore||3:20|
|16.||"Revival"||J. Walker; K. Dang; M. Calaguas||Non-A-Miss||4:57|
|17.||"Come On"||A. Moody; S. Holder||Blade||3:50|
|18.||"Swung On"||McKinley, Myron "Elfilin"; Stanley Clarke||Stanley Clarke featuring Politix||3:16|
|Australian Albums (ARIA)||15|
|Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)||18|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)||15|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)||14|
|Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)||4|
|Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)||59|
|French Albums (SNEP)||60|
|German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)||6|
|New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)||17|
|Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)||18|
|UK R&B Albums (OCC)||14|
|US Billboard 200||3|
|US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)||1|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Platinum||100,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||60,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
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- "Ultratop.be – SOUNDTRACK – ROMEO MUST DIE" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 2015-12-04.
- Top Albums/CDs peak
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- "Lescharts.com – SOUNDTRACK – ROMEO MUST DIE". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2015-12-04.
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- "Swisscharts.com – SOUNDTRACK – ROMEO MUST DIE". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2015-12-04.
- "Official R&B Albums Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
- "SOUNDTRACK Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-12-04.
- "SOUNDTRACK Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-12-04.
- "Canadian album certifications – Various Artists – Romeo Must Die - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". Music Canada.
- "British album certifications – Original Soundtrack – Romeo Must Die - The Album". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Romeo Must Die - The Album in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
- "American album certifications – SOUNDTRACK – ROMEO MUST DIE". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.
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