Romeo Must Die is a 2000 American action film directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak in his directorial debut, featuring fight choreography by Corey Yuen, and starring Jet Li and Aaliyah. It follows a Chinese former police officer travelling to the United States in order to avenge his brother’s death. He also falls in love with a rival mobster’s beautiful daughter as they struggle together against both the Chinese and the American mobs. The film’s plot is loosely related to William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet but transplanted to contemporary Oakland, California, with the feuding families becoming African-American and Chinese-American gangs.
The film was released in the United States on March 22, 2000, and grossed $91 million against a production budget of $25 million. It is considered Jet Li’s breakout role in the English speaking American film industry following his role in Lethal Weapon 4. The film contains the acting debut of R&B singer Aaliyah, who later starred in Queen of the Damned (2002). This is the only film of hers to be released during her lifetime.