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Film / Romeo is Bleeding

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Romeo Is Bleeding is a 1993 ultraviolent neo-noir crime film starring Gary Oldman and directed by Peter Medak. The title is based on the song "Romeo Is Bleeding" from the Tom Waits album Blue Valentine (1978).

Jack Grimaldi (Gary Oldman) lives two lives. By day he is a respected detective with a loving wife Natalie (Annabella Sciorra). By night he works jobs for the Mafia and shacks up with his younger mistress Sheri (Juliette Lewis). Everything changes when he's ordered by the mob to kill a brutal and seductive Russian hitwoman, Mona Demarkov (Lena Olin), who is placed in his custody. Grimaldi can't bring himself to murder Demarkov, as she is such a Femme Fatale that she manages to seduce and make a fool of him. When his mafia boss (Roy Scheider) hears that Grimaldi failed to carry out his order, he decides to get his revenge on him. Now Grimaldi has two problems: he has to prevent himself, his wife and his mistress from being rubbed out by his colleagues and he should kill Demarkov for humiliating him, bringing his life in danger and also because this might prevent his own murder... Trouble is: he is sexually attracted to her and she is professionally superior to him in every other way.

At the time of its release the film was a critical and box office failure, both in the USA as well as worldwide. However, the campy plot has made it something of a cult favorite, especially to fans of Gary Oldman.

Romeo Is Bleeding contains examples of:

  • Award-Bait Song: Bon Jovi's song "Always" was written to be this, but Bon Jovi disliked the film in previews and pulled the song.
  • Bittersweet Ending: After shooting Mona during a heated final confrontation in which she threatens to kill Natalie, Jack is given a commendation instead of being sent to prison for murder and starts a new life out West in a small remote town. However, he spends his days pining for the forgiveness and return of his estranged wife.
  • Chained to a Bed: After killing his mistress, Mona then handcuffs Jack to the bed and has her way with him.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Mona does this to Jack repeatedly — attempting to strangle him after convincing him to murder his own mob boss and fake her own death and trying to turn him into the police after he shoots the Don.
  • Dark Action Girl: Mona is extremely dangerous, not because she has unusual combat skills, but because she is completely ruthless and depraved.
  • Determinator: Mona doesn't let getting her arm shot off stop her from trying to rule the underworld. She doesn't even seem particularly upset by its loss.
  • Dirty Cop: Jack Grimaldi, who does favors for the Italian mafia.
  • Femme Fatale: Demarkov, arguably, who brings Grimaldi's life and career in serious danger by seducing him.
  • Fingore: More like toegore after the Don is done severing Jack's toe for his ineptitude in allowing Mona to escape.
  • The Mafia: The Italian mafia, headed by Don Falcone.
  • The Mafiya: Mona Demarkov is a Russian gangster.
  • Murderous Thighs: Done by a handcuffed Mona by hooking her legs around his neck from the back seat, causing him to crash his car.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Mona's post-coital recollection of "her first time" is deliberately vague about whether the encounter was sexual, lethal, or both:
    I was 16. What did I know? I wanted to. He was young too. The hardest part was getting a place alone.
    You know what it's like when you're 16. Everybody always lookin' at you.
    20 years later, you wish they were lookin' at you again, but, hey...
    that's life. - Yeah. - So, we finally went off by ourselves...
    down to the beach... one of those lifeguard chairs.
    Middle of the winter. You know you're crazy when you're a kid.
    It was freezing in that chair. But it was nice. Quiet.
    Later on, I just...I... just left him there.
    I closed his eyes...climbed out and went home.
    They were eyes. Like yours.
    I never forget the first time.
  • The Sociopath: Mona Demarkov
  • Underestimating Badassery: When Jack first meets Mona, he's expecting to be impressed due to her fearsome reputation, but he "doesn't see it." She deadpans, "Keep lookin'."
  • The Vamp: Mona all the way. Repeatedly uses Jack's weakness for drop-dead gorgeous babes to make him an accomplice to the Don's murder (after having been ordered by the Don to murder Mona).