Romeo Must Die (NTSC) (2000) (NTSC)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Music Video-Come Back In One Piece-Aaliyah featuring DMX
Music Video-Try Again-Aaliyah
Featurette-Making Aaliyah's Try Again Video
Featurette-Kung Fu Football
Featurette-A Benz, A Bike, A Babe and Some Bad-Ass Kung Fu
Featurette-Master On Fire
Featurette-Jet Li is 'Han'
Featurette-Aaliyah is 'Trish'
Featurette-Anthony Anderson is 'Maurice' aka 'Moron'
Featurette-Inside the Visual Effects Process
Featurette-Diary of a (Legal) Mad Bomber
Featurette-Anatomy Of A Stunt
Featurette-The Sound Stage
Featurette-HBO First-Look Special: Making Romeo Must Die
|Year Of Production||2000|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||3,4||Directed By||Andrzej Bartkowiak|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Jet Li plays former cop Han, who breaks out of a Hong Kong prison upon hearing of the death of his brother in the US. Upon his arrival, he coincidentally meets Trish (Aaliyah), who happens to be the daughter of his father's enemy (or partner), and thus is potentially valuable in tracking down the killer. Throw in plenty of bad dudes to fight with - I especially liked the guy with the afro, sunglasses and flares in the opening club scene - and you've got yourself a movie.
Although the majority of the Kung Fu scenes, of which there are seven, were well orchestrated and beautifully executed, the makers couldn't resist attempting to assist digitally. The Matrix, to which this film has been unfairly compared, was all about people that can bend the rules of reality spinning through the air and leaping great heights. Romeo Must Die should have been about Jet Li’s skill - he never needed the effects before to impress, and I don't know what's changed. The directing also left a little to be desired in at least two of these scenes - the actors were doing the tricks, but at times it looked a little chaotic with excessive camera movement. An interesting effect was the occasional use of an "X-Ray" shot to get an obscenely violent view of bones from the inside as they are broken.
Hip-Hop songstress Aaliyah in her film debut was suitably magnetic as the feisty Trish, and in addition to admiring his obvious martial arts skills, I've always found Jet Li to carry himself with a certain quiet dignity, and thus be eminently watchable. I did, however, feel that the movie lacked a little in the steam department, with the relationship between the two leads not progressing too far past the admiring looks stage, with the exception of a sexy scene where Han uses Trish to fight because he can't hit a woman.
Despite a terribly-written part in a couple of nothing subplots, Delroy Lindo (The Cider House Rules) acquitted himself well as Isaak O'Day, Trish's father. The real standout in the acting department, though, was Anthony Anderson (Me, Myself & Irene) who was the whipping boy both physically and comically for Li as Trish's bodyguard. "Number 2s" to the respective crime families Isaiah Washington (True Crime) and Russell Wong (Prophecy II) were a little wooden, but on balance, the good performances far outweighed the mediocre.
Romeo Must Die is the directorial debut of Andrzej Bartkowiak, a noted cinematographer, who has previously worked on such stylish films as The Devil's Advocate and the action-packed Speed. He creates a gorgeous movie with a lovely texture to it. Everything about the look of the film is smooth and refined. But at the end of the day, despite the promise shown by the cast, I was just a little let down by the fight scenes, the almost plotless script and eventually the length of this movie, which needed to be cut by about 20 minutes to generate some excitement and some punch.
Despite being quite sharp, the transfer was lacking just a little in the detail department, and I suspect that this was due to the inferior NTSC formatting. Without a PAL version for a direct comparison, though, I cannot be sure. This lack of detail was accented upon viewing the DVD on a display not possessing a 16x9 mode, and aliasing was also a little more prevalent in these circumstances, so those without that option, be warned. Shadow detail was excellent for the most part in a very dark movie, but occasionally foreground shadows were lost into the background. There was no low level noise to report.
The colours were vivid and well represented. This was especially evident in the lighting of the movie, which was often neon blues, pinks and reds. The lush green lawns of the O'Day mansion were indicative of this at around 10:00. Skin tones were excellent, and the blacks were deep and inky.
Aside from the very occasional and barely noticeable film artefacts, the only defects that I could detect consisted of some instances of aliasing. The most noticeable (although minor) infractions took place on some roof shingles at 10:08, at 21:35 on a TV speaker grille, and finally at 39:30 on a stack of CD jewel cases. There were no MPEG artefacts to speak of. There was an instance of grain in the night sky at 2:18, however, I have no doubt that this was inherent in the source material.
This is an RSDL disc, and despite searching hard for the layer change, I could not find it.
At times, I felt that the dialogue was a little quiet in the mix, especially when some of the heavier bass tones were generated by the score and music generally. This was never sufficient to cause any difficulty in understanding what was being said. I noticed no problems with audio sync and no other obvious problems or defects in what was a flawless soundtrack.
The Stanley Clarke (Boyz N the Hood) score didn't really stand out amongst the numerous rap and hip hop tracks (from artists such as DMX). Although not being a fan of the genre, I thought that all of the music was quite fitting and enjoyable, and there was a welcome lack of clichéd Chinese themes.
The surround channels came into their own during the numerous fight and chase scenes in which they were utilized well, but they seemed to go a little too silent in between. The lack of much in the way of atmospheric sounds, despite there being many opportunities for them, meant that I was never truly enveloped by the soundtrack and was occasionally startled when the surrounds did come into play.
The subwoofer really got a workout: from explosions to the pulsing bass of the musical soundtrack, it was almost constantly thumping, but in a manner supportive of the action rather than drawing attention to itself.
|Surround Channel Use|
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Speakers||Front: Yamaha NS10M, Rear: Wharfedale Diamond 7.1, Center: Wharfedale Sapphire, Sub: Aaron 120W|