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Introduced to American audiences when he squared off against Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in producer Joel Silver's blockbuster for Warner Bros., "'Lethal Weapon 4," Jet Li now makes his English-language starring debut in "Romeo Must Die. "Jet Li is one of the biggest box-office stars in Asia; he has a huge following," says producer Silver, who scored with critics and audiences with the revolutionary sci-fi thriller, "The Matrix," which was recently nominated for four Academy Awards. "He's not only second-to-none as a martial artist, as we saw in 'Lethal Weapon 4,' but he also has enormous screen presence."

'"Romeo Must Die' was exactly the movie we wanted to make with Jet," recalls executive producer Dan Cracchiolo. "We liked the conflict of cultures and the lack of boundaries from the main character's point of view. Trish and Han connect with each other as people with no regard for their color or culture."

Jet Li describes "Romeo Must Die" as "essentially Romeo and Juliet. In this case, the two warring families are an African American family and a Chinese family. In my past films, we are always first concerned with getting a good, interesting story. That makes the fight scenes more compelling. This film has a solid story and the action sequences come very naturally."

"Romeo Must Die" features fast-paced martial arts against the backdrop of Oakland's colorful, urban hip-hop scene. "This story takes place in a city that has a wonderful kind of musical feeling and hip-hop aesthetic," says Silver. "It's also a story that brings together the East and the West. with hip-hop and Kung fu thrown together into a colorful, unpredictable mix. Aaliyah's music is really sophisticated and has a wonderful feel to it. We also have DMX playing a very magnetic role. Then, with Jet, we have the chance to do some really incredible martial arts sequences in a fresh, interesting way."

Li portrays Han Sing, a former Hong Kong police officer who went to jail to protect his father and brother. "Han made a vow to his mother to always protect his little brother," says Li. "So. when Po is murdered. he does whatever it takes. breaks out of jail, even loses his identity. just to get to the States and find out why."

Atlantic recording artist Aaliyah makes her feature film debut as Trish, the headstrong daughter of crime boss Isaak O'Day. "Aaliyah is magic in this role," comments Silver. "She's completely fresh, very beautiful and an extremely talented performer. She brings an interesting, new dimension to the story."

Warner Bros. Pictures President of Worldwide Production Lorenzo Di Bonaventura first brought the project to Aaliyah's attention. "I felt I had to play a certain kind of character to make my transition from being a music and video artist to becoming an actress. i also get to contribute music to the soundtrack. which is going to be hot," she says.

Aaliyah describes Trish as someone who "has an attitude pretty much all the time, and I really like that side of her. She is in control of her life. She has decided to move on; she has her own store: she has her own life outside of what her family does. She doesn't like to be controlled, and that's like me to a certain extent."

Trish and Han first meet when, while trying to shake Maurice (Anthony Anderson), the bodyguard Isaak has assigned to her, Trish gets into a cab that Han has "borrowed." "Maurice is tagging along, watching her, and she decides to take a tight dip and leave," says Aaliyah. "So. she hops into the cab with Han and says, lust drive.' And they like each other right off the bat."

"Aaliyah is so charming," says Li. "She makes it very easy to work with her."

"Aaliyah and Jet have great, immediate chemistry," says Cracchiolo. "You

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