Romeo Is Bleeding

For 2015 documentary film, see Romeo Is Bleeding (2015 film).
Romeo Is Bleeding

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Peter Medak
Produced by Hilary Henkin
Paul Webster
Written by Hilary Henkin
Music by Mark Isham
Gary Alper
Cinematography Dariusz Wolski
Edited by Walter Murch
Distributed by Gramercy Pictures
Release dates
1993 (UK)
4 February 1994 (US)
Running time
110 minutes
Country UK/USA
Language English
Budget $10 million
Box office $3,275,865

Romeo Is Bleeding is a 1993 crime film starring Gary Oldman and Lena Olin, directed by Peter Medak. Its title was taken from a song by Tom Waits. Although the film was critically and commercially unsuccessful, the central performances by Oldman and Olin have been praised.


Jack Grimaldi, a corrupt cop who does favors for the Mafia in exchange for large fees, has a loving wife, Natalie, and an adoring mistress, Sheri. He thinks he has it all, until both the cops and mob are outwitted by a psychopathic Russian female mob assassin, Mona Demarkov.

Italian crime boss Don Falcone orders Jack to deal with Demarkov. Jack is unable to kill her; she seduces and makes a fool of him. Falcone, disappointed in Jack's ineptitude, orders one of his toes amputated. Realizing he has endangered both his wife and mistress, Jack instructs Natalie to leave the city immediately, giving her all the payoff money he's saved as well as instructions where to meet him out West when the time is right. Jack ends his affair with Sheri and puts her on a train out of the city. Jack tries to hunt Demarkov but soon realizes that he is putty in her hands. He is attracted to her sexually and no match for her professionally. Mona forces him to help her bury Falcone alive, then offers to pay Jack to help her fake her own death.

Although he obtains phony papers for her, she refuses to pay and attempts to strangle him. He shoots and wounds her in the arm, then tries to drive away with her handcuffed in the back seat. Mona escapes by hooking her legs around his neck, causing him to crash the car. She slithers out through the shattered windshield without freeing her hands. Mona lures Jack to an abandoned warehouse. He again attempts to kill her but is tricked into shooting Sheri instead. Mona fixes the corpse so as to suggest that it was she, and not Sheri, who died. Mona handcuffs Jack to the bed and they have sex.

She turns Jack in, copping a plea deal that will indict Jack for the multiple murders that she tricked him into committing. The police arrange a confrontation between Jack and Demarkov at the courthouse, as he is heading in and she is heading out. She threatens to kill his wife. Jack grabs a gun from the ankle holster of a fellow officer and shoots her dead. He turns the gun on himself, only to discover that the revolver is empty. Instead of being sent to prison for the murder, he is given a commendation. This frees him to begin a new life out West. He imagines Natalie's return, but, as Mona told him, Natalie is long gone, never to return. Jack is resigned to living life in a remote desert town.



The movie was filmed on location in New York City in Coney Island, Bushwick Manhattan, and Queens.



Romeo is Bleeding garnered a 23% "rotten" rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with an average score of 4.5/10.[1] Roger Ebert said that while Oldman is "unsurpassable in roles of this type", the film is "an exercise in overwrought style and overwritten melodrama, and proof that a great cast cannot save a film from self-destruction." Todd McCarthy opined: "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." Janet Maslin wrote that "For all its promise, and for all the brittle beauty of Dariusz Wolski's cinematography, Romeo Is Bleeding eventually collapses under the weight of its violent affectations." Bon Jovi recorded the song "Always" for the film, but withheld the track after the band was given a preview screening and was dissatisfied with it.[2]

Conversely, Peter Travers in Rolling Stone called the film a "scorcher of a thriller" with a "knockout performance" by Olin. He asserted: "It will be a shame if audiences don't get the joke".[3]

While Romeo Is Bleeding was poorly received, Oldman's performance as corrupt cop Jack Grimaldi is well regarded.[4] In 2011, Josh Winning of Total Film commented: "Oldman's proficiency with accents comes to the fore as he perfectly narrates this film noir ... this is up there as one of his best ever roles."[5]


Box office

The movie was a box office bomb. It debuted poorly[7] and failed to make a significant impact, grossing only $3.6 million worldwide[8] on a $10 million budget.[9]


  1. Romeo Is Bleeding Movie Reviews, Pictures,; accessed 28 March 2014.
  2. 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't be Wrong DVD
  3. Rolling Stone review.
  4. Romeo Is Bleeding profile, MSN Movies; retrieved 30 July 2013.
  5. Winning, Josh. "Romeo Is Bleeding: The film chameleon's greatest moments", Total Film, 11 April 2011; retrieved 4 October 2011.
  6. Romeo is Bleeding profile,; accessed 28 March 2014.
  7. "Weekend Box Office: 'Ace Ventura' Detects a Winning Take". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-01.
  8. Gary Oldman – Box Office Data Movie Star,; accessed 28 March 2014.
  9. Romeo Is Bleeding – Box Office Data; accessed 28 March 2014.

External links

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