Romeo Must Die (PAL) (2000)

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Released 20-Nov-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Listing-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer-2
Music Video-Come Back In One Piece-Aaliyah featuring DMX
Music Video-Try Again-Aaliyah
Featurette-Making Aaliyah's "Try Again" Video
Featurette-Stairway Dance
Featurette-Kung Fu Football
Featurette-A Benz, a Bike, a Babe and Some Bad-Ass Kung Fu
Featurette-The Hose
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; The Sound Stage
Featurette-HBO First-Look Special: Making Romeo Must Die
DVD-ROM Extras
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 110:20
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (81:38) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Andrzej Bartkowiak
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Jet Li
Aaliyah
Isaiah Washington
Russell Wong
Delroy Lindo
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Timberland
Stanley Clarke


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Italian
French
Spanish
German
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes, this is a gangster movie at heart after all!
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, the start of the credits roll over the final shot.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Warner Bros would like you to think that Romeo Must Die is a new take on the action genre - a film that not only delivers great action and excitement, but really builds deep and meaningful characters. Well, they're half right - it does deliver great action and excitement, but the plot is about as thin as the smile on the face of a used car salesman.

    We are following the story of Han (Jet Li) and Trish (Aaliyah), the children of rival crime lords who have recently entered an agreement that is set to make them rich beyond their wildest dreams. The relationship is strained however when Han's brother turns up dead, hung from a light-pole. The remainder of the plot consists of the two children finding that they are perfect for each other, much to the chagrin of their parents - hence the Romeo of the title - and battling a conspiracy (consisting of lots of Bad Guys for Han to bash) that threatens to destroy both their families. It is somewhat amusing to see that while Hollywood has stretched as far as having an interracial couple in a major film, the two never so much as kiss, and only even hug once during the entire film - so it would seem there is still somewhat of a hang-up in that regard.

    What really makes this movie worthwhile are the action scenes, and these are quite good. While they are certainly not the best of any Jet Li film, they are at least incredibly good looking, and some of the moves that he makes with the assistance of wires, CGI, and his stuntman are quite spectacular - even awe-inspiring. As far as the acting is concerned, it is good enough, with both leads quite comfortable in their roles, although they're not exactly stretching themselves here in playing characters designed around them. The supporting cast pretty much phone in their performances, with the exception of Anthony Anderson who really gets into being the sleazy, no good, two-bit hood.

    Finally, mention should be made that this is one of only two films completed by Aaliyah before her tragic and untimely demise on August 25th, 2001. As the other is the truly abominable Queen Of The Damned, this is a far more fitting tribute to her.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a mediocre transfer. On the one hand it is crisp and clear, but on the other hand it displays more than enough aliasing to become annoying.

    Presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness of this transfer is very good. Fine detail fairly leaps off the screen, and all subtleties are easily visible. There is somewhat of a problem with grain during certain indoor scenes, such as in Trish's apartment from 38:51 to 40:41, where the grain becomes extremely noticeable and quite distracting. Fortunately this happens on only a few occasions. Shadow detail is equally impressive, showing plenty of depth where the light levels are reduced. This transfer actually presents some of the best examples of night scenes I have encountered on DVD. There is no low level noise present.

    Colours are somewhat washed out. The majority of the transfer does not show anything approaching vibrancy, although this is not helped by the mostly overcast conditions in which it was filmed. Night scenes, and artificially lit indoor scenes are the ones that show the best examples of colour, although it could still have been better.

    While the transfer is completely free of compression artefacts, aliasing is an entirely different situation. Aliasing is almost constant on straight edges and the like, and gets bad enough that it becomes quite distracting. There are a number of scenes, such as in Trish's office from 28:38 to 28:47, where almost every straight edge in the frame seems to come to life. As the film progresses, both the frequency and severity of the aliasing seem to drop off, however it by no means goes away entirely. There are a few, small, film artefacts present but they flick by quickly enough to not be at all distracting.

    The subtitles are relatively close to the spoken word, and on certain occasions even clean up the dialogue a little. At least one joke is missed, however, by the subtitles not following exactly what is said (at one point Anthony Anderson's character Maurice, while looking for Trish, states that he will "find (her) Aaliyah looking ass").

    This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change taking place at 81:38 during Chapter 31. It is very well placed, even to the point where the break in the audio sounds more like an intentional pause in the music.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    This is a good, and extremely aggressive, audio mix. At times it in fact goes right over the top and is really too aggressive.

    There are two audio tracks present on this disc, being the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 384 Kbps), and an Italian dub also in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 384 Kbps).

    Dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, and that is no mean feat given the numerous situations in which the effects noises rise to extremes. Audio sync was always spot on and never a problem.

    The musical accompaniment consists of a score provided by Stanley Clarke and Timberland, and a collection of mostly R&B/Hip-Hop tunes. It is quite effective and works well to push the "east meets west" flavour of the film.

    The surround channels are consistently and aggressively used to both carry the score, and to provide the many directional effects used throughout the movie. There is little in the way of ambient noise provided, but given that there are only a very few occasions where there is no music playing, and no action taking place, this presents only a small problem.

    This DVD contains the most excessive use of the subwoofer that I have yet encountered. This is most noticeable during the opening and closing credits where the bass present in the music is both deep and loud - this really is one where the sub will literally blow you off your chair. Personally, I think that this track goes a little over-the-top - I like a good bass end on a DVD soundtrack, but this is simply ridiculous.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    While there are an enormous number of extras present on this disc, they are mostly of a promotional nature, and as such are of quite limited value. Adding to the nuisance value is their presentation. From the main extras menu, only three options are available, but one goes through to two more pages of extras - both of which in turn lead to pages with three to four more extras each. All-in-all, it makes finding a specific extra an exhaustive exercise, and one that could have been avoided by simply putting a little more thought into the menu design.

Menu

    The menu is 16x9 enhanced, animated, themed around the movie and features Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Cast and Crew

    This sort of page is very high on my list of the most useless extras. It is simply a static page list the major cast and crew - nothing more than could be had by pausing the credits! It was from this page that the NTSC R4 and R1 versions linked to cast and crew bios/filmographies that are curiously absent from this disc.

Theatrical Trailer (2:07)

    Presented at 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio, this trailer is quite effective (and makes extensive use of snippets from Craig Armstrong's brilliant Plunkett & Macleane soundtrack).

International Trailer (1:41)

    Presented at 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced, and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio, this trailer seems in many ways to be more typically "American" than the first, complete with cheesy voiceover. About the only thing that seems to designate this as the "international" trailer is the presence of the only nudity in the entire movie (which is really bordering on false advertising).

Music Video: Come Back In One Piece - Aaliyah featuring DMX (3:45)

    Presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced), and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio (at 192 Kbps), this is a fairly high quality video of Aaliyah at work, with some help from DMX (who actually has a cameo in this film, although given he went from here to Exit Wounds, I cannot say he has stepped up in the world).

Music Video: Try Again - Aaliyah (3:56)

    Presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced), and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio (at 192 Kbps), this is a very high quality video of Aaliyah's medium-level hit. It also features an appearance by Jet Li, and possibly the most hideous use of eye shadow that I have ever encountered.

Featurette - Making Aaliyah's Try Again Video (4:15)

    Presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced), and featuring Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio, this is not really so much a "making of", but more the video again, this time re-cut to include behind the scenes clips. It is only of very limited interest.

Short Documentaries

    Short is the operative word! This section presents eight "documentaries" as follows:     Each featurette is presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) and features Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

Featurettes

    How the featurettes differ from the short documentaries is probably only known by the DVD producers at Warner, for the style of presentation is identical. This section present four featurettes as follows:     All these featurettes are presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) and feature Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

HBO First Look Special: Making Romeo Must Die (14:50)

    It is quite sad that there is more interesting information contained in this promotion-oriented piece than in all the other features combined. Maybe it is simply the fact that I was relieved to not have to touch my remote after only a minute or two, but it certainly appears to be the only worthwhile extra on the entire disc. It is presented at 1.33:1 (not 16x9 enhanced) and features Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

DVD-ROM Features

    The DVD-ROM features consist mainly of web links (as a note, be aware that the "interactive game" mentioned on the back cover is actually on-line - the DVD only provides a link to it), and a few promotional videos. There is a problem with the videos however, as an error appears to have been made, and they are all the same clip of skiers going down tall mountains, and nothing to do with the movies they are supposed to be advertising.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1/NTSC Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The bios are short and uninteresting, and the filmographies easily located on the web, and the DVD-ROM MPEG trailers almost as easily located, so I declare this one a draw.

Summary

    Romeo Must Die is a good Hollywood martial arts actioner that contains a lot of action, and makes plenty of noise. It is presented on a slightly disappointing DVD.

    The video quality is mediocre, as the frequency and severity of aliasing is quite distracting.

    The audio quality is very good, and the surround mix is extremely aggressive, really becoming too aggressive at times.

    While the extras list is impressively long, it is sadly lacking for quality, and really adds little to the overall package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Friday, July 05, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersAll matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)

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Released 20-Nov-2001? - Anon REPLY POSTED
Release date again - Anon