×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Romeo Is Bleeding

The blood and grunge run thick on the mean streets in "Romeo Is Bleeding." This heavy dose of ultra-violent neo-noir gives Gary Oldman a face-first trip through the gutter that would make Mickey Rourke drool, but the far-fetched plotting eventually goes so far over the top that pic flirts with inventing a new genre of film noir camp.

With:
Jack Grimaldi - Gary Oldman Mona Demarkov - Lena Olin Natalie Grimaldi - Annabella Sciorra Sheri - Juliette Lewis Don Falcone - Roy Scheider Scully - David Proval Martie - Will Patton Joey - Larry Joshua Skouras - Paul Butler Cage - James Cromwell Sal - Michael Wincott John - Gene Canfield Jack's Attorney - Ron Perlman

The blood and grunge run thick on the mean streets in “Romeo Is Bleeding.” This heavy dose of ultra-violent neo-noir gives Gary Oldman a face-first trip through the gutter that would make Mickey Rourke drool, but the far-fetched plotting eventually goes so far over the top that pic flirts with inventing a new genre of film noir camp. Gramercy release will find a cadre of devotees who will groove on the hot cast, high style and low-down macho fantasies, but more people will be turned off by the excessive gore and progressive facetiousness.

Perhaps the most interesting angle here is that the story represents a tough working man’s wet dream, and yet it was written by a woman. Determined to make it big financially, Oldman’s New York police sergeant does his job on the organized crimes task force while accepting payoffs from the mob.

He also has it both ways in the sack, knowing his lovely wife Annabella Sciorra awaits him at home while he makes time with sultry mistress Juliette Lewis.

But that’s before he meets Lena Olin, a member of a Moscow crime family, who has just been nabbed after wiping out some Feds and a government witness. Oldman is entrusted with guarding her at a safe house but she’s got him disarmed and sexually compromised before the Feds even arrive to pick her up.

As narrated in the third person by Oldman in traditional hard-boiled fashion, tale knots up considerably from there. Cultivated gangster Roy Scheider orders Oldman to eliminate Olin, who in turn offers Oldman six times as much money to let her flee the country but tell Scheider he’s killed her. Oldman takes Olin’s cash, but when the she-devil tries to kill him, all hell breaks loose, and pic flies into darkly absurdistterritory that finally gets grotesquely out of hand.

A scene of the two struggling in a car about to crash will have viewers laughing if they aren’t already, and other scenes, including the ultra-bloody climactic shootout, push matters further into silliness.

Ultimately, the prevailing impression is one of an unrestrained fantasy of perverse sex and violence. Screenwriter and co-producer Hilary Henkin has delivered some pungent dialogue, vivid characters and wild scenes, and director Peter Medak has responded by creating a stylishly warped environment for it all.

One of film’s prime motives would seem to be the creation of the most astoundingly, memorably vicious and sexy female villain in movie history, and who better than Olin to play her? With her deep, husky voice, hot bod and intimations of limitless depravity, she would convince anyone that she has already chewed up and spit out the men of one empire and is working on her second.

Oldman clearly has a taste for the wild side but outdoes himself as a self-deluding cop whose weakness for sex and money lets him tolerate no end of beatings, mutilations, humiliations and defeats.

Sciorra registers well as the wife at the end of her patience, while Lewis’ role is a throwaway.

Where style is substance, craft contributions are crucial, and all hands, notably lenser Dariusz Wolski, production designer Stuart Wurtzel, editor Walter Murch and composer Mark Isham, have made strong marks on the prevailing mood.

Romeo Is Bleeding

Production: A Gramercy release from Polygram Filmed Entertainment of a Working Title/Hilary Henkin production. Produced by Henkin, Paul Webster. Executive producers, Eric Fellner, Tim Bevan. Co-producer, Michael Flynn. Directed by Peter Medak. Screenplay, Henkin.

Crew: Camera (color), Dariusz Wolski; editor, Walter Murch; music, Mark Isham; production design, Stuart Wurtzel; art direction, W. Steven Graham; set decoration, Beth A. Rubino; costume design, Aude Bronson-Howard; sound (Dolby), Gary Alper; assistant director, Mark McGann; casting, Bonnie Timmerman. Reviewed at the Northstar screening room, L.A., Aug. 28, 1993. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 108 min.

With: Jack Grimaldi - Gary Oldman Mona Demarkov - Lena Olin Natalie Grimaldi - Annabella Sciorra Sheri - Juliette Lewis Don Falcone - Roy Scheider Scully - David Proval Martie - Will Patton Joey - Larry Joshua Skouras - Paul Butler Cage - James Cromwell Sal - Michael Wincott John - Gene Canfield Jack's Attorney - Ron Perlman

More Film

  • Most Memorable Oscar Speeches in Academy

    The Most Memorable Oscar Speeches in Academy History (Watch)

    No Academy Awards is complete without some emotional acceptance speeches on stage – and some political ones to boot. With just 90 seconds to make an impact, many actors have used the platform as a voice for political change, calling attention to hot-button issues like climate change and gender equality, while others have simply reveled [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Arrested, in Custody of Chicago Police

    Jussie Smollett has been arrested and faces criminal charges for allegedly filing a false police report and for disorderly conduct. Chicago police tweeted Thursday morning that the “Empire” actor was under arrest and in custody of detectives. Smollett claimed that he had been attacked by two men on Jan. 29 — he said they beat [...]

  • Billie Holiday (1915-1959, born Eleanora Fagan)

    Billie Holiday Documentary Draws Buyers as Concord Boards Project

    Concord, the successor to the Billie Holiday Estate, has boarded James Erskine’s documentary “Billie,” which tracks the iconic jazz singer’s life. Altitude Film Sales has sold the project to several territories. Also joining the project, now in post-production, is the Brazilian colorization artist Marina Amaral. Most of the filmed and still images that exist of [...]

  • My Extraordinary Summer With Tess review

    Film Review: 'My Extraordinary Summer With Tess'

    Winner of a special mention from the Berlinale Generation KPlus’ adult jury, the family-friendly, light drama “My Extraordinary Summer With Tess” is straightforward youth cinema with surprising emotional depth. Based on a prize-winning novel by Anna Woltz, a beloved Dutch writer of work for young readers, it explores family relationships and emphasizes the importance of [...]

  • UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report: Women, Minorities

    Hollywood Diversity Gains in TV but Falls Short in Movies

    Minorities and women have registered gains in several key areas of television but women continue to lag in movies, according to a report issued Thursday by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA. “My basic take is that TV is improving more for minorities and women than film,” said Dr. Darnell [...]

  • Ghost Fleet review

    Film Review: 'Ghost Fleet'

    The revelatory documentary “Ghost Fleet” condemns the modern-day slave labor fueling the Thai fishing industry while focusing on the work of Bangkok-based advocacy organization Labor Rights Promotion Network Foundation (LPN), a group dedicated to ending slavery at sea. Combining chilling testimony from formerly enslaved men, some wincingly arty recreations of their ordeals, and on-the-ground footage [...]

  • WGA West Logo

    WGA Plans March 25 Member Vote on Talent Agency Rules

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America plan a March 25 vote for members to decide whether to implement tough new restrictions on how Hollywood talent agencies as operate as agents for writer clients. The vote comes as the guild is in the midst of pitched negotiations with the Association of Talent Agents to renew [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content