The One (2001)
Review by Doc Ezra

Directed by James Wong
Written by Glen Morgan & James Wong
Starring Jet Li, Carla Gugio, Jason Statham, Delroy Lindo, Kim McKamy

My Advice: Matinee.

First, there is not one universe - there are many. From slight variations to extreme departures, they all contain a duplicate version of you. Now imagine that all those duplicates have a common pool of strength and power, so that, as duplicates die, the survivors grow stronger. And then imagine that one of your otherselves decides to wipe the rest of you out in order to become invincible. And worse yet, you're Jet Li, so all these versions of you are pretty badass to begin with. Now you have The One.

This film delivers on its promise. That is to say, if you showed up expecting wicked visuals and much Jet Li Ass-whipping (TM), then you won't be disappointed. If you're expecting earth-shattering plot innovations or a thought-provoking exploration of the consequences of egocide, I'd like to know what you've been smoking. It's a Jet Li movie for crying out loud. Anybody expecting more than chop-socky goodness should have their heads examined. And if that sort of thing doesn't appeal to you, then nothing about The One is likely to win you over.

If the premise sounds a bit familiar, that's no surprise. The One is a lot like Highlander, only without the swords, beheading, or Sean Connery. But the fight choreography is brilliant, particularly when good Jet Li is fighting evil Jet Li. And the lenswork on the film is better than one can usually expect from the action movie genre (perhaps due to the film's lean towards sci-fi, which tends to have better camerawork, on average). And the soundtrack rocks much bass, with tunes well-chosen for the moods of the film (think The Crow for a comparable pairing of music and movie)

Disappointments include Statham's over-earnest performance as Funsch, which is as ham-fisted as I've seen in a while, and he's got enough screen time to really be annoying. Delroy Lindo does admirable work, but doesn't get enough play. Jet Li and Carla Gugio are both very enjoyable, and Li's English appears to be improving very rapidly, such that his accent never gets in the way of his delivery.

The film is quality matinee entertainment, definitely worth the big screen if you like kung fu flicks or sci-fi/action movies in general. It's not really forging into any new territory, but it shows great promise for Li's film career in Hollywood as the newest kid on the action star block.

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