From the previews, this movie looked awesome. With an awesome soundtrack, it shows Jet Li flying through the air, kicking off walls, and everything in between. This movie was going to be unloaded. Unfortunately, Romeo Must Die barely has enough action to keep its head above water.
The story is good, but it is not Romeo and Juliet. I was looking forward to an action-packed adaptation of William Shakespeare's popular tragedy. It did not have to be down to the letter, did not have to have Elizabethan English, nor did it have to end the same way, but it would have been cool to see Jet Li take on the role of Romeo and duke it out with the father of Juliet's family. Unfortunately, Li isn't even named Romeo, as the title suggests - there is one line that ties his character, Han, to Romeo. Sure, he falls in love with his father's enemy's daughter, Trish, but that's about as close as this movie comes to the Shakespearean play. Romeo Must Die does have a good plot, though, involving deceit after deceit, as two families go head to head when there is actually a third party working the both of them. Things get a little complicated - actually, too complicated - as, by the end, I still cannot figure out where the NFL guy fits in. Yes, the NFL guy. The other bad thing, besides the story not being Romeo and Juliet, is that it might be too good for its own worth, since Romeo Must Die lacks in the action department. There are a couple scenes thrown in here and there - a pointless fistfight in the beginning, a pretty cool but pretty short car chase, a comical woman vs. woman with Li part, a couple of small shootouts, and a fight to the death climax (which is conveniently shown in the previews, along with most of the other action) - but not enough to satisfy an action fan, and action fans probably make up the bulk of Romeo's audience. Somehow, since this movie was made primarily for the American audience, I think the producers wanted this to look like the more popular Jackie Chan films. Jet Li is more comical in this than in any other movie I've seen of his (only Lethal Weapon 4 and the disappointing Black Mask), and he uses more props. In one scene, he fights in a warehouse (a great place for props) and manages some pretty cool things, but then he takes control of a fire hose and that represents the rest of his battle. Unlike Chan movies, where he uses one prop and goes on to the next, and where they are actually believable, Li's prop usage seems lackluster.
The story is good and the action scenes are good, but there are not enough action scenes. I guess I'm going to have to wait for the next attempt at an action-packed Romeo and Juliet.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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