Romeo Must Die

Stars: Jet Li, Aaliyah, Delroy Lindo

Jet Li is the Gene Kelly of the martial arts world (as opposed to Jackie Chan who I’ve decided is karate’s Fred Astaire). This latest from Li is one slick film from the opening credits to its last firery fight scene.

It’s also an intelligent action film that centers on good story and good characters.

Here Li plays Han Sing, a former cop imprisoned for something his underworld father did while in Hong Kong. When he learns his younger brother has been killed, he breaks out of prison in a beautifully filmed sequence where he obliterates four guards while he’s chained and hanging upside down. Once out, he travels to Oakland, California and uncovers a plan by Chinese and Black mobsters to buy up waterfront properties and sell them to a developer who’s intent on building an NFL complex on that prime real estate.

The black mob is run by Isaak O’Day (Delroy Lindo) and the Chinese have Ch’u Sing (Han’s father) What’s interesting is watching their second-in-commands, Isaiah Washington as Mac under O’Day and the very handsome and cocky Russell Wong as Kai under Sing, both vying for money and power while manipulating events in their favor.

The other element in the picture is Trish O’Day (Aaliyah), Isaak’s daughter who soon becomes the love interest and all around helper to Han. You’ll see some very ingenious use of her as a prop in a fight against another girl. This is precisely the kind of thing that Gene Kelly would have come up with had he been a martial artist instead of a dancer.

You’ll also see some “Matrix” like moves which only adds to the slickness.

Lotta says “Romeo Must Die” is fun stuff well done!