As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Romeo Must Die, let us not overlook the wonderful and, frankly, WEIRD fight scenes that make up this movie. The RMD fight scenes are equal parts martial arts and slapstick buffoonery, and most of them have completely insane setups. I know RMD came out in 2000, but it reeks of 1980s “all the cocaine” energy. So enjoy this list of fight scenes featuring Jet Li, all of which are good but some of which are also completely insane.
Han meets Trish at the park, but her father’s cronies are playing football and decide to use a scrimmage to beat up Han. That works for about three minutes, but then Han figures out the game, and also how to defy the laws of physics, and he turns the tables, taking down Mac and his crew. The best part of this scene is definitely the terrible wire effects, you can actually see the moment the line goes slack and Li drops out of form. It’s as awful as it is hilarious.
LOL this warehouse fight
Like the football fight, the warehouse fight is unintentional comedy gold. Or maybe it is intentional? I’ve never been able to tell if Han using a firehose to wreck his enemies is supposed to be funny or cool. It reminds me a little bit of the John Wick fight in which John uses a horse to kill people, but that scene is definitely played for comedy. This one, I’m not so sure. I think it is supposed to be straightforward action, but Jet Li blasting Anthony Anderson with a fire hose is funny every time.
This scene is most like the action we’ve come to appreciate in American cinema over the last decade. It’s a close-quarters brawl that depends on timing and camerawork to sell the action, as well as relying on Li’s ability to do stunts in-camera. Also, this one is definitely supposed to be funny, with clear, effective slapstick beats.
Han uses Trish like a pair of nunchucks
This is another of the “this scene is brought to you by cocaine” fights, but it’s also the only one that involves Aaliyah in a meaningful way. I mean, Han basically uses Trish like a pair of nunchucks and it’s weird, but at least Aaliyah gets to do something. Also, this scene features Françoise Yip, who also starred with Li in the Hong Kong superhero flick Black Mask, and with Jackie Chan in Rumble in the Bronx. The setup is bonkers, but seeing people like Yip and Li throw down is the whole point of action movies.
Han vs. Kai finale fight
Easily the best fight in Romeo Must Die, the finale throwdown between Han and Kai (Russell Wong) is vicious and, for the most part, disposes of the dated gimmicks like wire effects. There’s still that dumb as sh-t “x-ray” shot of Kai’s spine compacting when Han kicks him, but that one thing aside, this is the kind of brutal, expertly choreographed and performed action that makes a movie like Romeo Must Die unforgettable.