3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
slick, stylish sci-fi..not as deep as it aims but great fun!,
This review is from: The One [DVD]  (DVD)
The One is a fusion of Matrix-esque stylish mind-bending sci-fi thriller with the more tradition kung-fu action that we expect from Jet Li. While it's action is high-octane and often looks stunning, the interdimensional plotline seems a little "done before", although this film does offer a new twist...
Li plays both the villain and hero of The One. The power-hungry Yulaw is killing off his 124 alter-egos in other dimensions, one by one, absorbing their life essence in order to become "The One". Having killed off 123, only Gabriel Law (of our dimension) remains to prevent him becoming a supreme being. He too shares in Yulaw's increased strength, dexterity, speed and mental capacity, and trained as a cop, a showdown is imminent. Yulaw is also being chased by two multiverse agents [Delroy Lindo, Jason Statham] who track and follow him through wormholes, but now cannot risk killing him as the consequences of Gabriel becoming "The One" are just as unpredictably dangerous.
The plot is riddled with unexplained elements, such as just why there are only 124 different universes. Indeed all the convoluted sci-fi theory has to be discussed between Lindo and Statham, due to Li's typically wooden delivery of his lines. Nonetheless, the sci-fi element is embellished with decent dimension-hopping special effects to cover any problems, and the story is generally coherent.
The acting and dialogue is largely forgettable. Li's English and acting abilities have never been terribly strong, but he does provide a charismatic performance as Yulaw and a sympathetic one as the rather confused Gabriel. The film is also able to build up some tension through the fact both characters are dressed similarly so even the audience often becomes confused as to which of the two they are viewing (although perhaps it might help Gabriel's case if he switched to a bright yellow jumpsuit so the police would realise they were chasing two people?). Statham's hammed up acting is slightly more convincing. Carla Gugino as Gabriel's wife, T.K., evokes more sympathy from the audience, but in such a short film we never really get too close to her either.
What fans are really here to see, of course, is the action. And here the movie does deliver pretty well, especially in the opening and closing scenes. Unfortunately these bouts of action are sporadically scattered amongst a little too much sci-fi rambling, and are often a little too brief in duration. Li's usual martial arts antics are spiced up with some interesting speed-ups and slow-downs to represent Yulaw's superhuman speed. However, the inevitable Li vs. Li showdown is rather disappointing, a missed opportunity. While the fight itself is adequately choreographed, it lacks any special spark. The choppy music video editing with shifting camera angles and overblown sound effects that suited the earlier gun battles and shorter fights is unwelcome here, breaking the flow of the Li's smooth fighting style.
The film always looks sci-fi stylish, but in what has now become a rather conventional and unremarkable way, using dark clothing and blue/grey lens filters (just look at the palettes in the stills here). This aids the action, especially in the time-slowing sequences (not really a Matrix rip-off as some have argued: there's no bullet-time here) which look great.
The key reason that The One works is that it is unshamedly campy but utilising a big budget to create an exciting glossy surface. It never pretends to be genuinely quality cinema, it never tries to cover up its plot holes, it never tries to push Jet Li's acting, and so the sci-fi action remains thoroughly enjoyable throughout.