Hong Kong action star Jet Li (“Lethal Weapon 4”) and R&B artist Aliyah are a hip-hop Romeo and Juliet in this tired tale of rival gangters. Fans of martial arts will do well to wait for it to come out on video, so they can fast-forward through all the meaningless exposition and endless shots of people giving mean and meaningful looks at each other and get to the good stuff.
Delroy Lindo is Isaak O’Day, a gangster who dreams of going legit, “making deals in country clubs instad of pool halls.” He loves his children, Colin (D.B. Woodside) and Trish (Aliyah) deeply and wants to protect them. But Colin wants to “be a man,” and for him that means taking matters into his own hands.
Kai Sung (Russell Wong) is the leader of the rival gang. Like O’Day, he has a son who wants to be a player. He and O’Day are trying to get the deeds to the shoreline property in their districts, to turn it over to a sleezy developer who is competing for a football franchise. We know he’s sleezy because he keeps saying fake profound things in an arrogant way, like,” golf is a game of finesse, not power, much like life,” and “If I say there is caviar on the mountain, you just bring some crackers.”
When Sung’s son is killed, his brother Han (Jet Li) breaks out of a Hong Kong prison to come to the US to avenge his death. He meets Trish, and they find that they have more in common with each other than with their sides in the fight.
There are some nice fight scenes, though it seems an insult to Jet Li’s extraordinary talent to trick them up with computer graphics. If we want to see people suspended in the air while they kick each other, we can rent “The Matrix.” Little flashes of x-ray shots of bones being crunched are an interesting touch. When you’re fast-forwarding the video, be sure to stop and see it.
Parents should know that the movie has very strong violence, some girl/girl kissing, drug use, and that it is really dumb. (I especially love the ending, with Han and Trish wandering out of the house with all the dead people, the police completely ignoring them.) Families who see the movie may want to talk about racism and the way that children prove their independence, or maybe just how such bad movies get made.