Film Review



Peter Medak’s mean and nasty neo-noir Romeo is Bleeding is stylish, trashy, pulpy, B-movie bliss, overheated and wildly implausible, but always wickedly entertaining, and featuring a combustible Gary Oldman as a corrupt cop who gets in way over his head with one of the ultimate cinematic femme fatales, played with diseased relish by a lethally hot Lena Olin. She’s beyond dangerous, beyond sexy, and Oldman doesn’t stand a chance, while the lurid script by Hilary Henkin (Wag the God, Roadhouse) piles on a ton of violent action mixed with kinky sex and twisted humor, adding up to a unique package that never wimps out at any moment. Oldman had just wrapped Tony Scott’s mid-career classic True Romance before diving into his sweaty and feverish role in Romeo is Bleeding, and his work in this film feels like a logical warm-up to his iconic work in Luc Besson’s Leon (aka The Professional), which he’d shoot immediately after. Morally repugnant and totally out of bounds when compared to most thrillers these days, Romeo is Bleeding was beaten up by most critics at the time of its brief theatrical release, but I would have to imagine it has picked up a cult following in subsequent years. This is the sort of film that feels tailor-made for Twilight Time to do a Special Edition Blu-ray. Dariusz Wolski’s slick and gritty cinematography plays with genre conventions in a respectfully modern fashion, while Mark Isham’s trumpet-dominated score amps up the sleaze quotient to a high degree; music and image are in perfect tandem during this juicy little film. The fantastic supporting cast includes Annabella Sciorra, David Proval, Will Patton, Juliette Lewis, Tony Sirico, Dennis Farina, Ron Perlman, James Cromwell, Michael Wincott, and Roy Scheider as a leathered crime boss. Rome is Bleeding makes a perfect double-bill with Dominic Sena’s underrated thriller Kalifornia, another forgotten-about gem from the early 90’s that’s due for reappraisal.


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