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.
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