As one of the former Multiverse Investigators, Gabriel Yulaw (Jet Li) knows full well that each of us has a parallel alter ego, or clone; what he also knows is that as he kills each of his own alter egos in one of the dozens of parallel universes, he accumulates and absorbs the power and strength of those he kills. After 123 universes and 123 deaths, he is finally captured by his old colleague, Roedecker (Delroy Lindo) and his assistant Funsch (Jason Statham). On the verge of being sent to a distant penal colony, with the aid of his glamour-puss wife [the baddie version of Gabe’s wife] (Carla Gugino) Yulaw makes a desperate final attempt to kill the last of his alter egos, the other Gabe (Jet Li) and thus become The One – an all powerful entity in the universe.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
This is hi-sci, hi-tech and hi-energy entertainment with a single purpose: to offer audiences a martial arts action flick with a simply told story of good versus evil, with a credible human romance at its heart. It succeeds effectively, providing us with a galloping soundtrack to match the visual dynamics and an enviable array of gadgetry and weapons. Ditto the SFX, especially the elaborate new take on the old ‘beam me up Scottie’ process. Dual roles in action films have been done before, but there is a bravura about the ambitious nature of this film that sets it apart. Jet Li (who actually plays a three roles, but the third is quite small) is a perfect choice for a hero and his villain clone, feisty and sensitive, lethal and vulnerable as required. Carla Gugino makes a terrific wife for Gabe, a sweet but strong lass with a brain. Solid support from both Delroy Lindo and Jason Statham as the security heavies from Multiverse Investigators, and the script gives everyone a chance to do something with their characters. Action fans will not be disappointed, especially by the final showdown between good Gabe and bad Gabe, in which the traditional clothing cues are given the flick. There is a tight power to the direction and a morally conclusive ending. A fine Hollywood contribution to the Hong Kong-born martial arts action genre, The One keeps it simple, spectacular and snappy.
Review by Louise Keller:
With its great premise and whirlwind of dazzling martial arts action, The One enthralls in a blast of non-stop action Jet Li style. And what style he has! The notion of good versus evil and the struggle for power and ultimate control is certainly not new, but the interesting issue of coming face to face with another version of ourselves through parallel universes, is beguiling indeed. The transportation through the multiverses is a little like tripping through Being John Malkovich's portal but with Star-Trek finesse, while multiverse agents police the streets, in a Men in Black kind of way. But The One is not at all derivative: it is an original both in concept and execution. Set in the present day, it feels as futuristic as Starship Troopers, yet the central character is grounded by his goodness and love for his wife and family. Truly a feast for the senses, the visuals are extravagant and the soundtrack is as exciting as it is relentless. The acrobatics and martial arts stunts are simply awesome, and I guarantee your jaw will drop and mouth remain open with eyes agog in the fantastic sequence when Li comes face to face with himself. This climactic, keenly choreographed fight sequence (which we are told took four weeks to shoot), is martial arts at its most sophisticated. Adept editing, extraordinary use of stunt doubles and an interesting use of two distinct styles of fighting, make this one of the most exciting confrontations imaginable. The ideas never run dry and there is probably too much detail to absorb on first viewing. The gymnastics with handcuffs appealed to my imagination, while the sequence in the warehouse is as visual as a New Year's Eve fireworks display. The entire cast is excellent, and Li's appeal in his dual roles - is undeniable. Thrilling escapism, The One is an exhilarating rocket ride.
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ONE, THE (MA)
CAST: Jet Li, Carla Gugino, Jason Statham, Delroy Lindo
DIRECTOR: James Wong
PRODUCER: James Wong, Steve Chasman, Glen Morgan, Charles Newirth
SCRIPT: Glen Morgan, James Wong
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert McLachlan
EDITOR: James Coblenz
MUSIC: Paul Linford, Trevor Rabin
PRODUCTION DESIGN: David L. Snyder
RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Col Tristar
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: January 10, 2002