Sardonic Sistah Says

Observations… Ruminations… Ponderances… & Rants from Another Perspective

No Sweet Lip for Asian Men

with 13 comments

I remember when Romeo Must Die came out and a lot of people on the black/Asian message boards were upset because there was no clincher kiss at the end of the movie.  Rumors spread why Jet Li and Aaliyah didn’t kiss: he was allergic to her lipstick, Asians wouldn’t like it, black people wouldn’t like it –stupid stuff.  But most of the people on the black female/Asian male message boards wanted to see a romantic ending with Jet Lie and Aaliyah clutched in an embrace.

If you watched The Slanted Screen  on PBS this month you found out why.

And Gene Cajayon, the Filipino American director of the 2001 film “The Debut,” the first Fil-Am movie to be released nationwide in the United States, talks about the revised ending for the action movie “Romeo Must Die,” a retelling of “Romeo and Juliet” where the R&B star Aaliyah plays Juliet to the Chinese actor Jet Li’s Romeo. The original ending had Aaliyah kissing Li, a scenario that didn’t test well with an “urban audience.” So the studio changed it. The new ending had Aaliyah giving Li a tight hug. Says Cajayon, “Mainstream America, for the most part, gets uncomfortable with seeing an Asian man portrayed in a sexual light.”

So it perhaps it was racially motivated but I’m betting anything it didn’t come from black or Asian camps.  I may be hedging bets but something tells me they probably tested the movie to mostly white audiences and the white audiences in selected markets and they were probably uncomfortable with a consumated love connection between the two.  I don’t know whether it was more that Aaliyah was black or that Jet Li is Asian or the thought of the two hooking up just seemed implausible but whichever way it went down it made it end with the oddest hug between them.  All through the movie you got the vibe they were feeling each other and fallling in love and then at the end she cradles his face and hugs him.  Uh huh.  Yeah. 

I wonder if they remade the movie today if it would have the same ending.  I’m awaiting the premiere of Akira’s Hip Hop Shop  starring James Kyson Lee.  I can admit I’m interested in seeing the movie because I’m in a similar combination, but hey, everyone wants to see a reflection of themselves out in the world even the smallest of categories.

Written by rentec

29 May, 2007 at 9:29 pm

13 Responses

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  1. Love your blog!

    Empress of Eccentricity

    30 January, 2008 at 7:24 pm

  2. I don’t understand it either. Why care what white audiences think when the whole story is a modern day version of Romeo and Juliet when the title of the film has Romeo in text? Usually I support this kind of filmmaking from producer Joel Silver (though it’s probably not him to blame) from the Matrix trilogies and Ninja Assassin, but it’s disappointing.


    28 October, 2010 at 4:35 pm

  3. I enjoy seeing Jet Li movies and from the 20 or so I have seen…..I feel Aaliyah was the only woman that brought out the believable emotional side of him. They truly had a chemistry that never seemed forced and like Arnold Schwarznegger films when he has had a female lead of color….(Vanessa Williams in Eraser, Rachel something or other in that cool dream movie with the mutants, Commando with Rae Dawn Chong) there is never a kiss but for every female lead that has been White there is always some affection shown. Damn shame we as a nation STILL have such stupid issues…….


    25 October, 2011 at 3:56 pm

  4. […] Chan’s love interest in Tuxedo was Jennifer Love Hewitt — but no kiss. Same deal with Jet Li and Aaliyah in Romeo Must Die, not even a chaste peck on the […]

  5. […] Chan’s love interest in Tuxedo was Jennifer Love Hewitt — but no kiss. Same deal with Jet Li and Aaliyah in Romeo Must Die, not even a chaste peck on the […]

  6. […] love interest in Tuxedo was Jennifer Love Hewitt — but no kiss. Same deal with Jet Li and Aaliyah in Romeo Must Die, not even a chaste peck on the […]

  7. […] A la Jet Li and Aaliyah in Romeo Must Die, where there was supposed to be a love interest but they never actually kiss (I think it had to do with the inter-racial love […]

  8. This defeats the whole purpose of the movie if it made “white audiences” uncomfortable.

    joe hoe

    4 November, 2012 at 9:53 pm

  9. Probably it would had a different ending now days, the thing is that unfortunately for some reason this made people feel out their confort zone,why? No Idea! Also the thought of a minority portrail of a lead in Hollywood hasn’t completely set in their minds. Hopefully this mind set is changing so we can see more and more as a reflection of normal urban life, after all interacial relationships are becoming more and more common place,hope this helps

    Hinata Hikari

    30 December, 2012 at 11:55 pm

  10. You’re definitely ‘hedging bets’. I was in one of the test audiences for the movie and while it has obviously been a while since then,I remember that the group I was in was very racially diverse.When we were all leaving I heard one asian woman say loud and clear ‘black and white women need to stop trying to move in on our men’.
    I’m not saying that there weren’t any white people who might have felt that way but the general consensus I’m getting from what that one woman said and the boards I’ve visited is that a lot of Asian woman just don’t like seeing girls of other backgrounds with Asian guys.As someone else mentioned Jackie Chan didn’t kiss Jennifer Love Hewitt in the Tuxedo even though she was his love interest.Diane Farr said she got a death glare from an asian girl when she and her korean boyfriend were holding hands on their way to breakfast. If anything,it seems to have been more an insecurity some asian woman have.

    Gi Gi

    9 September, 2013 at 8:54 pm

  11. Jet Li confirmed that the removal of the kiss had nothing to do with race.


    13 September, 2013 at 11:46 pm

  12. That’s a good point. I think Jet Li didn’t kiss her because he was afraid about that lip stick. That’s right. He is a rich guy so he is scared of allergic from that lip stick. Or, maybe the director didn’t ask them to kiss each other?


    22 December, 2013 at 11:12 am

  13. […] Sistah Says. “No Sweet Lip for Asian Men.”  Accessed 06 February […]

    - Beyond Black & White

    18 February, 2015 at 12:00 pm

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