Take a fairly well worn Sci-Fi plotline, mix in some martial arts, blend with some CGI effects, add some heavy rock music and bake for 87 minutes. This seems to be the recipe for 'The One' starring Jet Li.
Unfortunately, what came out of the oven hadn't risen properly, so was a bit stodgy and a just little bit cheesy.
Engage Cinema Voice Over artist mode:
“There is not one universe. There are many: A multiverse. We have the technology to travel between universes, but travel is highly restricted and policed. There is not one you. There are many. Each of us exists in present time, in parallel universes. There was balance in the system, but now a force exists who seeks to destroy the balance so he can become The One.”
Cut to titles.
Thus begins the noisy extravaganza, avoiding a long drawn out explanation by the characters - instead choosing the 'training film' approach of 'voice over' and graphics.
Yulaw (Jet Li) is a rogue agent from the Multiverse Bureau of Intelligence who has learned that, by travelling from one parallel universe to another and killing the alternate versions of himself, he gains his counterparts' strength, speed and intelligence. After killing one hundred and 23 parallel versions of himself, Yulaw has gained almost unstoppable power and there is only one other version of himself left, Gabriel Law (Jet Li), a Los Angeles cop. Yulaw travels to the universe that houses his nemesis, followed by a pair of agents intent on stopping him from killing Gabe and either gaining near-godlike powers, or destroying the fabric of all existence. Gabe is confused to find himself being hunted and shot at by himself, but with the help of his wife T.K. (Carla Gugino) and the Multiverse cops (Delroy Lindo and Jason Statham), Gabe engages Yulaw in a series of spectacular fights to become the One. James Wong, director of 'Final Destination' and several memorable episodes of 'The X- Files', helms this mind-bending martial-arts mayhem movie.
Now, call me old fashioned, but if I'd put a couple of cops on a case to stop a serial killer then I'm pretty sure that after the third victim had been rubbed out, I'd have replaced them with a more effective team. As it is, the Multiverse cops Roedecker and Funsch are still hot on the trail of this madman after he's killed victim number 123.
They transport from one universe to another by a method that makes the transporter in 'Star Trek' look tame. We see their bodies split into tiny parts and then blasted through time and space, being reassembled at the point of exit. It's not really a pretty sight and looks quite painful.
I'm confident that Jet Li ('Romeo Must Die', 'Lethal Weapon 4') is the favourite international movie star of some members of the MTV generation, but surely they could have got someone who could act. There were several occasions where I couldn't make out his lines, not because of noisy sound effects, but because of his pronunciation. The director needed to ask for another take for clarity. In his alter ego of 'the bad guy' he just doesn't look threatening or scary at all, so perhaps some acting lessons might help.
Bearing in mind that this movie was released back in 2001, Jason Statham as one of the cops is only really memorable for his brave attempt at an American accent. But hey, I look upon this as payback for Dick van Dyke's 'British' accent in 'Mary Poppins' - so it's not all bad.
This was fairly early on in Statham's rise in the public eye and he really hadn't found his feet or his screen persona at this point in his career - but he shows promise.
As for the action scenes, they're generally well choreographed with bullets pinging off walls and spent casings tinkling to the ground as the super powered bad guy dodges them in slow motion. You know the kind of shots I mean, the ones that were pioneered in 'The Matrix'. I reckon the actors must have worn earplugs in the fight scenes to protect their ears from the thumping loud rock music accompanying the carnage.
Coming towards the end of the movie, I thought “I bet they do a finale where you can't tell the good guy from the bad guy”. Know what? I was right!
Only the imprint of the wedding ring on Gabe's finger saves him from being teleported to a penal colony in the Hades system - but even so, have they really dispatched the killer?
If you're looking for a movie that's full of originality, a believable story line and good acting then it's probably best to look elsewhere. If, however, you want something that you'll enjoy with a few mates after a few beers and a curry, then this is 'The One' for you.
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