In a generic condo block outside of Spokane, Washington, elderly Chinese man Mr. Shi (Henry O) is reuniting with his adult and fully Americanized daughter Yilan (Fiehong Yu) for their first visit together in a long time. Although Mr. Shi is a stranger in a strange land, he is eager to improve his English and learn about American culture. Yilan, however, is having none of it. Though she goes through the motions of being happy to see her father, she is clearly distressed by his arrival, leaving him alone most of the time and dismissing his attempts at conversation. Something's not quite right between these two. As some critics have pointed out, there are echoes here of Ozu's gut-wrenching Japanese masterpiece Tokyo Story, in which elderly parents from the sticks come to the city to visit their grown children only to be patronized, ignored, and ultimately disposed of.
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Most freely adapted from Shakespeare, "Romeo Must Die" is a pounding-adrenaline martial arts action flick with a rival gang romance subplot that seems to have lifted more from "Macbeth" than "Romeo and Juliet" -- mainly that it's full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
The marquee-topping American debut of Jet Li -- the high-kicking crown prince of Hong Kong kung fu movies and the bad guy from "Lethal Weapon 4" -- this MTV-minded festival of bullets and flying fists is a very slick affair. Taking a cue from "The Matrix," cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak (who shot "LW4") makes an action extravaganza of his first directing effort by employing suspension-wire acrobatics and a souped-up version of the now-famous rotating freeze-frame technique to enhance Li's 200-octane fight sequences.
Right out of the gate, Li kicks the asses of half a dozen Hong Kong prison guards, while hanging upside-down, one-legged, from a chain in a torture chamber. The raucous scene turns into a spectacular jailbreak, inspired by Li's desire to get to America and avenge the murder of his gangster brother.
Continue reading: Romeo Must Die Review