11/17/13

THE ONE - REVIEW


Back in 2001, when The Matrix was still all the rage and "the One" was still Keanu Reeves, there was another "One".

Jet Li, that is, in a little film called, quite simply: The One.

Directed by James Wong, mostly known for his work on the Fast & Furious franchise, The One was originally meant to star The Rock (yes, when he was still known as The Rock) but, since he was busy working on The Scorpion King, Jet Li was soon cast in the main role. One year post-Romeo Must Die, Li was starting to build a solid US portfolio movie-wise and starred in this goofy sci-fi actioner also starring Jason Statham. The film introduces the idea of a multiverse, basically the existence of multiple parallel universes. In a Highlander-esque twist, if one was to kill every single version of himself throughout the universes, he would gain all their energy and, that way, become some kind of super-powerful being. Which is why Yulaw, evil Jet Li, travels from dimension to dimension killing himself over and over until he meets his match, his good cop version from our own universe. As Evan (Jason Statham) and Harry (Delroy Lindo), two multiverse agents, try to hunt down Yulaw, good Jet Li has to avoid getting mistaken for his doppelganger and help find him. The One is about as ludicrous as it gets and if you start thinking more than 10 seconds about this whole plot and how it works, you'll soon be poking holes in it larger than the Grand Canyon.

The best way to enjoy this movie is as a brainless martial-arts cartoon. Its Matrix-style bullet-time effects aren't all that impressive, even if at the time they were somewhat new, but they are really fun and help give the film a random Tom & Jerry-style quality. One scene involves Jet Li kicking cops left and right as they float around him in slo-mo like balloons, another has him slam two motorcycles over someone with his bare hands. Very little is convincing in this movie but it's still completely entertaining and too enjoyably silly to fully dismiss. Parts of it are so absurd they're hilarious, like Jet Li saying "I'm nobody's bitch!" or his multi-dimensional equivalents all having silly haircuts, for example. The entire thing doesn't have a dull moment. The One is very much of its time: the Matrix effects, the Men In Black-style futuristic gadgets, emo teen rock playing over every scene, Al Gore being US president in another dimension, it's so early 2000's it hurts. That said, the dated aspect only adds to the entertainment value and, as a sci-fi film, The One is far more creative, far better looking and far better made altogether than so many you see come out in theatres these days (here's looking at you, Gamer).

If you're looking for a martial arts film that makes the most of Li's talents, you might want to stick to the Once Upon A Time In China or the The Legend movies, but if you're looking for a fun way to spend an hour and 25 minutes, then you could do a lot worse than The One.

Brilliantly dumb.

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