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ROMEO MUST DIE

About The Production
Before production began, Li and his martial arts team spent weeks choreographing and developing several intense and intricate fight scenes. The results bear the signatures of both Jet Li and master choreographer and veteran Hong Kong film director Corey Yuen. "Jet and Corey bring an unbelievably energetic and athletic fight process to this picture that comes out of the Eastern film style," says Silver. "Their fighting and wire work techniques give the audience a whole new way of seeing the fight experience. I was first able to explore wire work during 'The Matrix' and I think it's something that people have never seen before in the West. It literally changed the way we look at action pictures."

"In 'Lethal Weapon 4,' we had four fights," says Li. "In 'Romeo Must Die,' we have eight. We wanted to make each one different, with a variety of moves and styles for the various characters involved. In different situations, you need different kinds of martial arts. If you want to hurt people, or you want to stop people. or you want to kill people — that involves all different types of fighting."

Li and Yuen, who have collaborated on six previous films in Asia, share a passion for staging fights that are an integral part of the story. "I usually base the action on the characters," says Yuen. "For different characters, I create a different kind of action the kind of fight and how characters fight each other."

"First, we need to know the characters and the actors involved, and then we can create the fight scenes," adds Li. "I don't like movies that are just fights. That's a demonstration, not a movie. The story is the most important thing to consider when planning the fight sequences.

"Corey's imagination is amazing," says Russell Wong. "You just don't know where he's going to go with an idea. He is a genius at what he does. The choreography is phenomenal and unlike anything I've seen coming out of this country.

Wong is also a sincere admirer of Jet Li. "I love all of Jet's films, 'Tai Chi Master' and the 'Once Upon a Time in China' series. He has been doing this since he was a kid and he is truly the Mikhail Baryshnikov of the martial arts."

"Traditionally in the west, action sequences have been essentially assembled in the editing room," says producer Silver. "The stunt people who do the actual fighting are shot from various angles. and the lead actor's close-ups are subsequently inserted. The eastern film style has revolutionized the action sequence by using actors like Jet, who are the real thing and can do all the fighting themselves, and shooting them from head to foot. So, Jet has enabled us to make all of the action in this film completely authentic, without fooling the audience. All the fighting, all the stunts and wire work — it's all Jet."

In this respect, Silver sees Li as the Gene Kelly of the action film. "You could shoot Gene Kelly from head to toe, straight through his dance number," says the producer. "It is what made the musicals of the '30s, '40s and '50s so great. Jet brings that kind of grace and authenticity to all of his films."

"The battles all showcase Li's martial arts fighting styles," says director Bartkowiak. "'Romeo' has a little bit of everything thrown in, including one stunt that had never been attempted before. He fights off five soldiers while tied to a rope hanging upside down by one foot."

This amazing scene, which takes place in the "beating room" of a dingy Hong Kong jail cell, took five days to shoot. "I think the beating room is the toughest fight," Li says. "I've done twenty-five movies and I've never done this kind of thing before. It was difficult but we think it's going to be very effective."

Li's character must fight Trish's bodyguar

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