PictureOne wonders why a film as recent as The One should need Superbit treatment in the first place (it is only 2 years old after all), and it goes without saying that the 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer on display here offers a crisp and clean picture.
Indeed, the palette of the film - mostly a cold blue tone - is rendered well, with cleanly defined images. The opening moments of the film offer us shadow and the foresaid blue tones, and these images come across as vibrant and sharp. Shadow holds detail well, and aside from some visible grain in a couple of scenes (at around 7:04 grain is apparent in the sky), it looks almost reference quality. I say almost, because early on in this superbit edition, edge enhancement becomes apparent. The hard edges of character outlines are plagued by haloing and although at times this is faint, it's certainly there (those with large screens will undoubtedly notice this).
Sadly, this is consistent throughout the whole film, as edge enhancement spoils the filmic look of an otherwise pristine transfer. This seems to becoming the norm for Columbia's Superbit releases - both the recent Starship Troopers and Hook Superbits have suffered from this - which is a real shame. Otherwise, the transfer here is detailed and clean (pretty much scratch free bar one noticeable instance) with good colour saturation, zero bleed and no perceivable artefacts.
SoundAs is typical of superbit releases, we have the choice of both DTS 5.1 (768kbps) or Dolby Digital (448kbps) soundtracks. I chose first to listen to the movie in DTS, before switching back to a selection of scenes of varying tempo and action in Dolby Digital.
It's immediately apparent that the sound engineers went to town on this movie. As the opening voiceover comes at you from the centre channel the remaining speakers burst into life, promising an aggressive soundmix to come. It doesn't disappoint, and within minutes bullets and a heavy rock soundtrack are whizzing around the soundstage. All six channels are used throughout the duration of The One, with clear vocals from the centre channel interspersing the gunplay and martial arts. It's loud and brash, with good use of the LFE channe and moments of very low bass rippling through the room. At around 13:00 when Jet Li kicks and punches the air the bass is sharp and precise, with extension into the lower regions below 20hz. It's very effective, and this usage continues with some of the bigger punches in the film: the main setpiece, the "gantry duel" is another excellent example where LFE is used to good effect.
However, at times the channels feel a little overused, and I wonder if the steering could have been slightly cleaner (more restrained is perhaps a little more accurate). This is not helped by the overtly aggressive music which accompanies many of the scenes, so much so that it feels almost like an MTV video than a movie soundtrack. That said, for demonstrating your AV system, this has some well executed moments.
Comparing the DTS and Dolby Digital versions reveals some striking real-world differences. The Dolby soundtrack is undoubtedly quieter - several decibels in fact - with almost every element of the soundtrack sounding more laidback and enclosed. The top-end in particular sounds duller and LFE - though still punchy in Dolby Digital - has nowhere near the impact of the DTS track. I replayed several scenes comparing the two soundtracks, and on each and every occasion the DTS soundtrack was significantly different to its Dolby counterpart. The differences are narrower where dialogue is concerned, but even there I would describe the DTS track as more forward and open.
The surround channels, too, show marked differences in DTS as opposed to Dolby. During the "gantry duel" as Jet Li jumps off the top platform to land on the lower one, the surrounds are markedly louder in DTS.
As to the question of which is better? Well it sounds obvious that the DTS track is better. However, those with acoustically "live" rooms may find the DTS version too bright and forward (the constant barrage of music doesn't help matters), preferring the Dolby Digital version which is perhaps easier on the ears. It's not simply a case of a volume difference, as increasing the volume on the Dolby soundtrack doesn't totally equalise the soundtracks, it's just the mixes themselves are very different.
Given an ideal listening environment, the DTS is clearly triumphant with more extension and a cleaner, bolder sound. However, given a bright sounding room (lots of clean walls and carpetless floors for example), the Dolby Digital version may be the preferred choice for many. Of course, you can always just play it in DTS and turn the volume down...
ExtrasNone, this is a superbit title.
VerdictA third cousin, twice removed from every other good action movie, The One is uninspired in both script, action and direction. This superbit edition offers an in-your-face sound experience and a generally good video transfer, but is definately One for Jet Li fans only.
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