Romeo Must Die

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * · · · · )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * · )

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I didn't think they could mess up Shakespere any more than putting a mustache on Gweneth Paltrow and calling her a man, but here we are. Originally I had heard that the movie was simply unrealistic, but if I wanted realism, I would watch old man Norris kick white-trash ass in Walker. I like the over the top fight scenes, I like seeing martial artists on wires doing some crazy stuff the laws of physics don't even allow. Well, had that been the only fault of the movie, it would have been great, but it wasn't. There were two main things I could put my finger on and say "this sucked". One is the horrible soundtrack. Sure, I hate rap music in general, but this was particularly bad. Second was the lead female co-star who gave me a negative physical response (like a cramp or gagging) with each and every time she showed up on camera. The movie would not let go with the incredible amount of layer upon layer of evil subplots. I wanted to see a movie about guys flying through the air kicking the hell out of each other and instead I get two Shakespeare plots (King Lear and Romeo and Juliet), a good piece of Godfather 3, and one of the worst romances ever put on film. The fight scenes were very very cool, but like Mission Impossible 2, there just wasn't enough of them. To my count, there are only three real fight scenes and two of them are over by the 15 minute mark of the movie. The last one is all the way at the end. A good rule for this movie would have been to put in a good fight scene in every 7 minutes of the movie. Instead we go hours with nothing but a wacky football scene. There is one element definitely worth mentioning that sets this movie apart, and that is "Ultra Pain Mode". This is like a fast action version of the disections done in Three Kings where the camera actually turns into an X-Ray and gives you a close up of the actual trauma done to the body in medical terms. It is only used a couple of times, but it did have me saying "Wow, that is cool" even though the main characters are wearing Old Navy Cargo Pants. After seeing it, I would have to say that every good fighting movie and video game for that matter should add some "Ultra Pain Mode" style camera work. The DVD is a good solid disc with a 2.35. to 1 16x9 enhanced picture and a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that made the rap soundtrack sound even more like nails on a chalkboard. There are a bunch of extra features including a 15 minute documentary on "Ultra Pain Mode". Aside from this very cool new effect in fighting movies, I would have to say that this might be one of the most painful fighting movies I had ever seen. Get your friend to show you the fight scenes and ignore the rest of it.