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This week:

Romeo Must Die

Filthy says:
"Hollywood Must Die!"

Gooden Says: "Jackie Chan is going to kick Jet Li's Ass"


This week, I was lucky enough to be joined by Gooden Worsted. He was in Arvada for Diddy Kong Con 2000, a convention for fans of some video game, I think, Diddy Kong Racing. And he spent the whole fucking weekend croaking, "My name is Krunch!"

So, Gooden and I decided, shortly after finishing an 18 pack of Scheaffer Light, to do a little tag team, like Siskel and Ebert used to do before the skinny one finally got loose of the fat fuck by dying. Mrs. Filthy drove us to see Gooden's choice "Romeo Must Die" on her way to the fabric store. Motivated by nine cheap beers each, we were almost kicked out of the AMC after a brief brawl over who get the popcorn some previous moviegoer had left.

Now, we're back home, still sort of snockered and ready to tell you what a piece of trash this draggy, wannabe kung-fu crap was.

"Romeo Must Die" is the story of star-crossed lovers in fighting families. Jet Li is imprisoned in Hong Kong when he learns his brother is killed in a gangland war in San Francisco. With the use of his martial arts and unnecessary X-ray imaging, he kicks some Hong Kong cop ass, and then mysteriously reappears in the good old US of fucking A.

Once there, he unravels the mysteries of the family war through a series of completely unbelievable, and yet telegraphed, plot turns and talky scenes. The war is between his rich fucking pop and these really fucking rich black guys, led by a paycheck-cashing Delroy Lindo, who provides all the star power of a 40-watt lightbulb.

Apparently, a new football stadium will be built in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, but only if the Asian baddies can deliver half of the waterfront, and the blacks can deliver the other half. Exactly half. Because any other division would be too much math for the lousy screenwriters. A shockingly annoying sixteen year old, Edoardo Ballerini, is paying top dollar for an NFL franchise, if the gangs can get the land. Along the way, Li has many misadventures which, Gooden and I assume, were supposed to be funny, but didn't make me laugh any more than the time I woke up from a dental check-up with my fly open. For example, after kicking the black gang's collective ass, he is thrust into a football game with them. Go figure. It feels like the Play-Doh Pumper of plots, where the writers shoved a bunch of shit in one end and the studio put on screen whatever came out the other.

Meanwhile, Li bumps into and falls in love with Lindo's daughter, the loudmouthed and unbelievably good-hearted Aaliyah. Of course, since they're from warring families, their love is strictly verboten. However, Alliyah and Li see a lot of bad shit and figure out who is in cahoots with whom and then start kicking people in the face.

Filthy: Well, Gooden, any fucking thoughts about "Romeo Must Die"?

Gooden: I completely agree. Filthy, it's about redefining the martial arts movie. Instead of the usual kung-fu student being beaten, then training, then beating the toughest bad guy in town, this film is based, loosely, on none other than Romeo and Juliet. Li's romance with Alliyea is the easiest and most readily understood interpretation of Shakespeare's classic. So even a viewer with no familiarity with literature will still get a gloss, not only of action fighting, but of Shakespeare as well. It's educational! And it better be, because it isn't much else.

Filthy: The only thing this over-hyped pile of horseshit redefines is how Hollywood fucks find their ways into our pockets. This isn't about martial arts, it's some dipshit West-Coast Land Rover driver's interpretation of martial arts movies. And their interpretation is to remove most of the fighting, leaving only the really fucking lame plot.

Gooden: Martial arts plots always involve good guys and bad guys, and it's easy to tell who's who. That let's the viewer concentrate on the airborne roundhouse wallops! But good guys rarely have to explain themselves, and anyone with a scowl is bad. Why do these actors have to spend so much time explaining themselves? We know Li and Aliyaah are good because they play with kids. And we know Alliyha is sexy because other characters keep saying "Damn!" They didn't have to do that. She's just hot enough to play the hot character, and she's not going to get any hotter no matter how many people say "Woo, girl!" Believe me, I've tried this.

Filthy: Alanya is about as hot as a busted toaster. Personally, I find acting talent sexy. But with her talent, Aliyana wouldn't convince me one bit if she said "Oh, Filthy, your cock is soooo big." Gooden, allow me to discuss the plot which should be simple enough to deliver the goods. But rather than use it as the launching pad for some naked breasts and flying fists, it launches a half-dozen baddies lacking the subtlety of Scooby Doo villains.

The only person in the theater who didn't figure out who the real bad guys were fifteen minutes into the film was the three year old sitting in front of me, and that's because he was too busy trying to find out who was kicking his seat. Beyond that, I spent way too much time thinking, "why the fuck are they there now?" and "what the fuck is this?" and "Why doesn't she take off her top?" Jet Li doesn't do much for himself. He plays every scene like someone is shoving splinters up his urethra.

Gooden: You gotta give Jet a lot of credit for trying to work out his acting muscles. It's cute, like a ten-year old at her first piano recital. In every acting scene you can see him trying so hard to just act. When he's shocked, his face goes into the perfect expression of sheer desperation and he holds it until he thinks to himself, "Okay, I have acted enough." And then the next scene begins, hopeful bringing some more crane-strikes.

Filthy: One thing that struck me was how director Andrzej Bartkowiak sort of gave up directing halfway through. At first, he was trying to be all stylish and artsy. Somewhere along the way, though, I think he figured out what a pile of shit this was and just rushed to the end so he could get back to making "Depends" commercials.

Oh, I forgot to mention how bad the dialog is. It's got more wood than a circle jerk. First, the black people talk like a bunch of middle-aged white guys trying to act black. They said "don't go there" more often than a whore with a virgin anus. And who can ever forget Edoardo Ballerini's character, no matter how hard we try? He is the lamest movie villain since the writer of "Down to You." Other than being a young businessman with bad hair, there is no reason to hate him other than his frequent use of the word "cheddar" and his "bad" attitude. I'm not sure why Warner Brothers wants me to hate him, but I'm pretty sure it's not because he sucked hairy ass.

Gooden: Yes, and he doesn't even get a boot to the chest! He's caught in a shootout, and his helicopter takes about 100 rounds of ammo, but he manages to escape. How dreadfully unsatisfying!

Filthy: Maybe they're planning a sequel. "Super-annoying Teenage Business Man and the Hair of Death."

Gooden: Sounds like another nine-stars for Jet Li. He'll be up to 27! But the entire point of this film--the only reason anyone is going to see it--is the expectation of radical kung fu moves. Now, when it comes to martial arts, anyone who knows me knows that Jackie Chan is my main man! The hype around Jet Li drove me wild to see this film, and I was surprised to find that Jackie Chan is still my main man! Watching Jackie is watching martial choreography executed to the best of human capability. Watching Jet Li throw punches and kicks is watching a computer-enhanced, wire-flown man break all laws of physics. He leaps fifteen feet into the air and throws a series of kicks that spins his opponent 180 degrees for twin konks on the tail and the noggin. Rad? Yes. But come on! Jet Li is not only a master of karate, but a master of many expert film editors.

The thing I love about the kung fu movies that the 70's song was talking about: the whole body was shown--as in Fred Astaire dances. In this movie, and in the other Jet Li flick, Black Mask, the film cuts so quickly and zooms so drastically, that you really only get to see hands and feet most of the time, and you just have to assume that Jet Li is the master fighter he wants to be.

Filthy: You hit that nail on the head, Gooden. How the fuck does a director screw up kung-fu scenes? I guess by putting the whole goddamn movie in close-up. I don't care how many pockmarks Jet Li has, close-up is no substitute for action. Snot-sucking Jesus, if you have weak characters, make them run around and hit stuff, not yammer like Mrs. Filthy and her koffeeklatsch. I want to see people get their asses kicked, but this movie is more interested in making them act like stereotypes and then "suggesting" they got their asses kicked. Oh, and the movie has this powerfully bad X-ray gimmick, where it shows what happens to the victim's body after a particularly vague Karate blow. It's like an aspirin commercial, showing that the Kung-fu is really working!

Gooden: Right, like the scene where main Chinese baddy's vertebrae all snap like a domino chain. I was so glad to see that in X-ray! My gosh, I used sarcasm! What kind of beer is this? Anyway, I'd say, if you're going to watch it anyway, you should rent it. If you're into stereotypes, then fast-forward to all the scenes with Maurice--he's the fat black comic-relief actor. Then watch the kung-fu scenes in slo-mo. They might be better at that speed. And you can balance your checkbook meantime.

Filthy: I can't tell if Gooden and me are in agreement or not. I say two fucking fingers, and he's talking about nine stars, but no more than that. I'm giving it two fingers because if someone said I had to watch this or Mission to Mars, I would watch this and like it. At least it has some action. Bottom line, though, this is one pile of shit better left on Edoardo Ballerini's shoe. We better quit before our buzzes dissipate and we get all surly and sleepy.

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