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Shakespeare It Ain't
Romeo Must Die (DVD)
Member Name: wampyrii
Romeo Must Die (DVD)
Date: 24/01/03, updated on 24/01/03 (166 review reads)
Advantages: Oh read the opinion
"Over here kickin' ass beeatch!"
Romeo Must Die was Jet Li's breakthrough movie into mainstream Western cinema. Yes, I know before then he had appeared in Lethal Weapon 4 but let's be honest, no one was paying much attention to him or knew that back in his homeland he already had around 20-something movies under his belt and was one of their biggest stars when they saw that now were they? Mention he was in it now to people and they're like “oh that was Jet Li?” (or ”who??” of course lol) so this was his big break as a Hollywood movie lead. Compared to his previous movies it's umm, well it's not that good but as an introduction to his work for Westerners it's not a bad place to start. Unfortunately since then he has turned in some real tripe, like “The One” after apparently turning down(!) the part subsequently offered to Chow Yun Fat in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon...but hopefully the descent into B-movie hell with be halted there. The world really doesn't need a 21st century replacement for Jean Claude Van Damne et. al. but Hollywood could do with a Jet Li on top form...not that they seem to have a clue how to use the likes of him and Jackie Chan but you live in hope eh?
Anyhoo, Romeo Must Die is basically yet another reworking of the Romeo ' Julliet thing with a whole heap of martial arts action thrown into the mix. We have a black gang and a chinese gang warring over a bit of docklands turf and a few contrivances later we end up with the son of the Chinese gang leader(Jet Li) getting involved with the daughter(Aaliyah) of the black gang leader(Delroy Lindo). Trouble and strife ensue, lots of gun play, lots of chop-socky action...'nuff said in terms of plot I feel...'cos there really isn't that much of it lol.
You really only watch this kind of thing for
the action, the stunts and the martial arts and this has it by the bucketload. In terms of Jet Li's other movies it's not a good one but in terms of what usually gets churned out by Hollywood in this genre it most certainly is. The plot it's all weaved into isn't great but it works in a seen-it-all-before kinda way, in fact, it probably couldn't fail as it's so tried and tested! Every time the bad guys catch up with Li some butt-kicking ensues and every time it's pretty entertaining stuff...dumb, but entertaining. As is the way of things we have everyday objects used in surprising ways, a fire hose becomes a lethal weapon in one fight, Li plays puppeteer with Aaliyah in another because he refuses to hit a girl himself but she has no such qualms...and so on. It's inventive and it's entertaining but you'll be wanting to suspend your disbelief for 100 minutes too...
In terms of scripting, there are a few one-liners to be proud of and Anderson is there solely to provide a little comic relief and does so in a more hits than misses way. There are a few really cheesy moments which would have looked better on the cutting room floor too, notably in a brief appearance from rapper DMX but you take the good with the bad and it's mostly good, or at least 'passable'. Acting is merely 'OK'. Delroy Lindo adds a little class to the proceedings and I was surprised by Aaliyah who I had previously only seen in the quite awful Queen Of The Damned where she failed to impress...not that she was given anything to work with and arguably not even the best in the field could have delivered the dire script with any conviction! Here she turns in a pretty fair performance in the Julliet role, sexy but with that girl-next-door feel as well. It's a role to remember her by rather than her later one in the Anne Rice adaptation. Jet Li was there to kick butt and does so, his acting isn't all bad but not all good either and
the rest were merely passable...as no doubt expected! How often do you see Oscar winning performances in action movies? I rest my case...
Is it worth watching? Well, there's anough action here to keep fans of such things happy and fans of martial arts movies will be equally entertained although it won't be one of the best you've seen by any stretch of the imagination. It's also worth noting there is a lot of wire work employed here to so again, purists take note. Overall though, I'd say it was a pretty fair addition to the action movie genre and worth a rental if nothing else.
Hmm, first impressions...suck! Why? Well the first impressions of this DVD are the case itself which is an ugly flimsy black plastic on three sides with a cardboardback and front wedged between it. To open the case you have to manipulate the cardboard front to unhitch it from under a plastic lip and to close it, more manipulation to fit it back under...who the hell designed this crap? Much tinkering later you'll accidentally discover that the front bit of 1/2cm flimsy black plastic clips off to make things easier, but don't plan on opening the case too many times before it stays off! Inside, more of the same, ugly black housing which clamps the disc quite mercilessly and geez, did someone say cheap and nasty? Warner Home Video should be ashamed of themselves!
Anyway, the disc itself isn't bad. As always, don't ask me about the techie stuff, my home set-up isn't amazing so I'm just happy if it looks good, sounds good and doesn't have any annoying glitches! So erm, it looks good presented in its original 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with strong colours and good detail and I didn't notice any signs of grain or damage either...which is good enough for me lol. In terms of sound, no problem again for me, Dolby Digital 5.1, crisp and clean etc. and you've got a choice of subtitles in
different languages (including English) should you so desire to use them. Like I said, the techie stuff doesn't interest me, it looks and sounds fine by my reckoning, that's all I really care about.
Anyhoo, what did bug me was that if you dither for more than a minute on the main menu screen it automatically starts playing the movie! I loaded up the disc, was distracted by the phone and came in around 30 minutes into the movie which seems rather stupid...yes it was a case of just starting it again but why have it on a time delayed auto-play? Geez! I also kinda found the menu system to be a little unintuitive(as in, it initially hid 12 documentaries from me and seems a little 'back to front' by listing music videos one depth less than all the documentary footage) and the menu music doesn't continue through to all pages(and only runs for around a 30 second loop anyway) which is a minor grumble...as is having all the best bits of the movie playing in a five screen montage on the main menu screen. Why do I want to see these before watching the movie? Ugh...pet hate, sorry.
Still, the extras aren't bad and there are lots of them...or at least the illusion of it lol. Throwing down “13 Documentaries!” on the packaging sounds great but when they're 2-5 mins in length each and “3 Music Videos!” when there are two and one 'making of' feature...then it's not quite so amazing sounding.
“Come Back In One Piece”
Rap video from DMX featuring Aaliyah...in all honest, a pretty dire track from DMX(which in itself is saying something in my opinion!), pretty dire video and not exactly Aaliyah at her best either! Umm, not much to say really. If you are a big fan of either then you might be interested, otherwise you won't be...it's your basic rap video format with a clip from the movie fr
ont and back and then little else to speak of unless you're impressed by dudes hanging around looking mean...or trying to anyway.
The music video “Try Again” from Aaliyah. What's to say, it's not a bad track, the video is more inspired than it first looks(cutting martial arts into the dance choreography and the mirror room backdrop inspired by “Enter The Dragon”) but otherwise it's still just a music video and you'll probably not watch it more than once unless you are a fan of Aaliyah.
“Making Of Try Again”
Pretty self-explanatory - it's a brief making-of documentary for Aaliyah's video Try Again. When I say brief, I do mean brief, as it is really little more than a play-through of the video cut with some behind the scenes footage and a few words from Aaliyah and Li at the beginning.
I don't see any point in running through these piece by piece - suffice to say, there are 8 of them in all and they show the making of and choreography behind the major stunts in the movie. It might have been nicer if a little time had been spent tying them up to build a full documentary around them but at least they are on here and if you want to access one particular stunt scene then this s probably easier. Each runs for less than 5 minutes but are cool to watch...this kinda thing always is right?
Four more documentaries looking at the special effects, stunts etc. These too only run out at around 5 minutes and often look at the same areas already covered by the above. The section on special effects I thought was rather lame to be honest as it really doesn't say anything at all other than...umm, well they used a computer to show real-time X-rays of bones breaking...geez really?! Amusing to hear one of the special effects guys say he's never seen anything like that
done before in a movie...must have lived under a rock until asked to do this movie lol. The featurette on stunts is quite interesting though, focusing on a drop out of a window from the 23rd floor of an appartment block...
The usual made-for-TV 15 minute featurette which is designed really to pique interest in the film rather than to offer much in the way of interesting information to those who are yet to watch it. Worth watching though for a few words from producer Joel Silver and his cast, with some more quick cuts of behind the scenes footage and stunts. There's no real depth here though.
Well, there's some extra bits and pieces like a pretty comprehensive scene selection and if you've got a DVD-ROM drive in your computer there is a game of some kind and the original theatrical website to mooch around. I can't comment on this feature. Umm, apparently there are personality profiles for Aaliyah, Jet Li and Anthony Anderson if you are to believe the inlay as well but I'm yet to find out where...??
In all, you buy the movie itself and it's pretty well presented here give or take a few niggles and some really crap packaging! The extras on the disc aren't bad, pretty much what you'd expect really but nice to see it in volume. A notable absentee from the extras is a director's commentary, or a commentary from any one of the cast or crew would have been nice. It would also have been nicer to have had a little more depth in some of the documentary footage we're treated to but there ya go. Overall, not bad, better than a lot of DVD releases out there and if you liked the movie then a worthy purchase, especially since you can pick it up at prices below £10 now.