Retro Review: The One

Written: November 1, 2001

Twice the action, twice the budget, twice the effects and twice the Li is just a little of what “The One” is being hyped as. But twice may not be such a good thing.

According to this film, there are literally hundreds and hundreds of alternate universes that house people who look the same as us but are different from the choices they chose in their lives.

Within these alternate dimensions, a solitary life force flows between all of our duplicates. When one of our duplicates dies in their dimension the power is then shifted and spread among the survivors. When the numbers begin to dwindle the survivors become more and more powerful.

Martial-arts sensation Jet Li (Romeo Must Die) stars as Yulaw, an obsessed man who used to be a member of an elite crime unit, which monitors traveling within the multiverse.

Yulaw has successfully killed 123 versions of himself to become “super-human” as his life force builds. Yulaw is determined to make the body count larger as he slowly becomes closer to being “the One”.

Special Multiverse Agents Roedecker, played by Delroy Lindo (Get Shorty), and Funsch, played by Jason Statham (Snatch), are after Yulaw as he enters our world to take out his final duplicate.

The Special Agents team with Gabe, Yulaw’s duplicate in our world, to help bring Yulaw to justice. Who will be the final Li and which will be the one? Will the fabric of the multiverse unravel as Yulaw destroys himself?

The One is basically “Time-Cop” meets “Highlander” with a dash of the cult TV-series, “Sliders” thrown in. The film is flashy, effects-driven and very hollow.

Jet Li is always very interesting to watch in his action sequences but when you are trying to follow two Jet Li’s, who dress almost identical, you never know who to cheer for. This is especially disconcerting when watching the film’s final 25 minutes where you have an amazing fight sequence where Li fights himself. But which of them is the good guy?

When you aren’t fighting the constant identity crisis you have to contend with the obvious bad acting and dialogue from the entire cast. This film comes off as a “direct-to-video” script that should have been maybe “direct-to-Van Damme” or worse “direct-to-Dudikoff”.

Director-producer team James Wong and Glen Morgan have once more delivered another sloppy effects-heavy project that has no substance. They did a lot better with last year’s “Final Destination” because it wasn’t laden with special effects but with an interesting script (well, as interesting as “teen-horror” films get).

Wong and Morgan are most famous for their contributions to season one of “X-Files” and their short-lived and critically acclaimed space-drama “Space: Above & Beyond” but it seems that these partners really don’t know how to harness their power in the sci-fi genre “above and beyond” those two TV shows.

This film would have made a more interesting comic book than a feature film. To be honest it felt like a really bad comic book movie.

(1.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

One thought on “Retro Review: The One

  1. Thanks for your thoughtful review. I liked this film a bit more than you – perhaps I would give it a 2.5? But, massive Jet Li fan that I am, I do think he has made better films and I find his acting in this to be a little forced – a comment I could make for all of the cast (so I agree with you about the acting). This is maybe one of his better American films, which tells you a lot about how bad his American films generally are! I read a critic who said that this film fails because it tries to be too many things to too many people -as you said above “Twice may not be a good thing”. My favourite part of this film is the brief footage of Li as the 2 characters, each doing his own special brand of martial arts (one in a room, the other on the rooftop). This shows Li’s really special abilities and training, and I wish more of this type of footage had ended up in the film instead of so much special effects.

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