What's better than one Jet Li? Why two Jet Li's of course. Speaking of two of the same martial artists in the same film, it seems to be a favourite past time for Jean Claude Van Damme to star with himself, Double Impact, Maximum Risk and The Replicant. Any way, back to The One. It seems that the writers must have been watching Highlander the night before they wrote this.
The One starts with a narrative telling us that there is not one Universe, but a Multiverse, which is a series of parallel universes. Yulaw, the evil Jet Li, is travelling across the universes, killing his equivalent selves, which makes the energy of the victim divide across the survivors. Having killed 123 versions of himself, Yulaw has the speed, agility and strength of 61 odd men, as has Gabe.
Gabe, a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy, living in our universe is totally unaware of why he is getter faster and stronger as he gets older (obviously played by Jet Li as well). These are the last two version of the same man left and Yulaw must kill Gabe to be the One, an all-powerful being. Two agents of the Mulitverse Bureau of Investigations, which heavily polices the travelling between the universes, have also followed Yulaw from his universe. These agents are Roedecker and Funsch, played by Delroy Lindo and Jason Statham respectively and are determined to take Yulaw back for illegal universe travel and 123 counts of murder.
Yulaw tries many angles to get to Gabe, who is being protected by the agents, including through his wife. Incidentally Carla Gugino plays his wife/girlfriend/partner in all the universes. The final confrontation between Gabe and Yulaw is high-octane action as both men now realise the powers that they have.
The problem with The One is that the whole premise is flawed from the start. If the Multiverse theory is to be believed, then will there not be super-powered old age pensioners on every street corner as their counterparts slowly die off in other universes? (They will be bending Zimmer frames and outrunning the postman with their Giro cheques). The whole movie is really just an excuse to use the latest computer-generated fight sequences, with Li fighting himself. Admittedly the final confrontation is very impressive but could the filmmakers not come up with a better premise to lead us to it? Li swings motorbikes around like baseball bats, jumps over 30 foot walls, crushes and kills everyone that gets in his way, but its all wire-work and computer generated trickery (is this technique being over used or is it just me? That Matrix film really has a lot to answer for!)
The acting is really unremarkable, Li wanders through all of the several roles that he plays. Delroy Lindo is the only one here who keeps his dignity, but he is the kind of actor who is consistently good in all of the roles he plays. Jason Statham, who is a good British actor, puts on a ridiculous American twang. Why are you trying to pass off as an American? His whole performance was awful and very wooden, and his US career will not receive a boost from this sacrilegious attempt.
So, to sum up, The One is a rip off of Highlander, even to the extent where Li says to Li "There can be only one". They just needed to look at the camera and wink at that point, but unfortunately they take the whole thing far too seriously for anyone's good. The action is good, but you have to suffer the rest of the film to get to it. On the whole its not a bad film, it's just a film that wastes a very good premise. Jet Li can do a lot better and needs to really move away from the CGI action wire-work stuff and concentrate on more substantial roles, lest he become the next Van Damme (not a good thing by any standards)
Oh and a final note to Mr Statham; get your arse back over to this side of the pond and hook up with Guy Richie again.
Score : 5/10
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