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  Beijing Scene

Romeo Must Die
Starring Jet Li
Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Length: 120 minutes

If Jackie Chan is the Charlie Chaplin of martial arts movies, then Jet Li would have to be the Fred Astaire. Compared to Chan's pratfall acrobatics, Li graces the screen with both an elegant aloofness and boundless energy. His gravity-defying fight sequences, a combination of explosive force with balletic precision, have been wooing Asian audiences since his arrival as a young martial arts prodigy.

Jet fans will then be pleased to know that Romeo Must Die is finally out, heralding the star's first movie as a Hollywood leading man. The film opens with his character, Han Sing, defying police guards in a daredevil escape from a Hong Kong prison. Meanwhile, his father, Chu Sing, is busy battling with black crime lord Isaak O'Day (Delroy Lindo) for control of the Oakland, California, waterfront. The murder of Han's playboy brother, Po Sing, during a nightclub brawl leads the two family houses into an inevitable and outright war.

To avenge his brother's death, Han comes to Oakland where he meets Isaak's daughter Trish (Aaliyah). True to its "Romeo and Juliet" theme, while the canned gangland feud between the two families escalates, romance between Han and Trish blossoms.

Some charismatic and talented performances make Romeo Must Die consistently better than it should be. Lindo is especially good as the patriarchal Isaak, and Isaiah Washington hams up the shark-like brutality and catlike street-smart of his sidekick Mack. However, the romance between Trish and Han is unconvincing and fails to create any on-screen spark.

Although Romeo Must Die lacks the edginess of the many Hong Kong action movies which made Li one of Asia's biggest box-office draws, it is still an entertaining blend of gangster flick, Asian martial arts extravaganza, and high-tech special effects. With no fewer than eight fight sequences, featuring perhaps the most outrageous stunt work of Li's career, Romeo Must Die has only a few slow stretches where its pedestrian mob-warfare plot and uneven acting are likely to make its audience restless.

I Love Rock and Roll
Press: Yellow River Audiovisual Publishing House
City: Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province

I Love Rock and Roll is the latest monthly music magazine to join a new wave of hip, well-designed popular publications including Modern Sky and Pop Songs.

In addition to offering profiles of foreign bands and music trends, it highlights many Chinese groups and the rapidly developing popular music scene here. A free 13-track CD that accompanies the magazine features songs from the Rolling Stones and Orange 9mm, as well as local bands H20, Anarchy Boys and Liu Chang. An introduction to each band and song lyrics is also included. The magazine's most recent issue profiles acts including Prodigy and Beijing band Sick Doctor. A piece on Riot Grrrls details both the punk scene in China and abroad, and a Che Guevara feature runs alongside a story on model revolutionary Lei Feng.

I Love Rock and Roll is available at most streetside magazine stalls and costs RMB16.8 with CD and RMB14.8 with tape. For more information on the magazine call (0311) 8637581 or email: iloverock@263.net


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