One, The (2001) Review

"The One" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The One" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: James Wong
Writer: Glen Morgan, James Wong
Producer: Glen Morgan, Steve Chasman, James Wong
Cast: Jet Li, Delroy Lindo, Carla Gugino, Jason Statham
Running Time: 96 min.

By Joe909

Basically this movie is nothing more than “The Highlander” meets your basic comic book/parallel universe plot. The acting’s stiff at times and there’s no character development to speak of, but still, I had a good time watching it.

The basic story: Evil Jet Li has killed 123 versions of himself in different realities. Absorbing their power, he’s almost a god. But there’s one last duplicate: good Jet Li, who as well has absorbed the energies of his dead copies, albeit unwittingly. Evil Jet comes to good Jet’s reality, and all hell breaks loose.

The best part of the movie is the opening. It’s around 10-15 minutes of pure action. Gunfights, kung-fu, a car chase, the works. Probably my favorite part of the movie, though the end image of evil Jet beating down his countless opponents on a hellish mountaintop was pretty cool.

Overall, I’d say “Kiss of the Dragon” was a much better film. The One is more of a goofy movie, something to watch for the occasional thrill. The “Matrix” effects got on my nerves; here they came off as very slow and unimpressive. Especially the shot of evil Jet picking up two motorcycles. I mean, what was that supposed to be? “Dragonball Z: The Movie?” It just looked fake. Same goes for when evil Jet flew into the air and kicked good Jet.

Like I said, good if you want to watch something fun and mindless. For some reason, it reminded me of a less bloody (but nowhere near as good) modern-day Shaw Brothers movie, mixed with a Marvel comic book.

Joe909’s Rating: 6/10

By Numskull

Lay to rest any fears you may have about Jet Li doing a “Matrix wanna-be” movie. The bullet dodging bits are pretty much the only element that The One swipes from The Matrix. It should have swiped more, because The Matrix is definitely the superior film.

There are a grand total of 125 Jet Lis running around in 125 parallel universes (at least one of which has Al Gore in the oval office), and from the very beginning, one of them has killed 122 of the others. In the first action scene, he takes out #123, leaving just him and one more. But, whenever he kills one, he doesn’t just absorb their power, Highlander-style…instead, their life force gets distributed amongst ALL of the survivors. So, when it comes down to the final two Jet Lis, the only advantage the evil one has is that he knows what the hell is going on, while our hero, to no one’s great surprise, wants nothing to do with the whole mess and thinks the problem will go away by itself if he ignores it.

The badassed Jet Li is pursued from universe to universe by two agents, one of whom is a strictly-by-the-book veteran, the other of whom is a rookie who wants to rush in all guns blazing. Yes, I know you’ve heard that before. No, it’s not any better this time around.

Considering that Jet Li is often labeled a martial arts star, I don’t see a whole lot of martial arts going on here. g The evil Jet beats up one agent, then the other, then fights the “good” version of himself in a fairly lengthy, but not terribly exciting duel which uses too much slow motion and loses some integrity due to the “metal” song they insisted on playing. Mercifully, there’s no rap to be found here, although the “new metal” stuff they use (Drowning Pool, Papa Roach, etc.) isn’t really to my taste either. You want REAL heavy metal, listen to “Whoracle” by IN FLAMES or “Endorama” by KREATOR, or, for something a little less abrasive, “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” by IRON MAIDEN (cast off any preconceptions you may have about these guys if you’re not familiar with them…they’re MILES above and beyond other 1980s “hair bands” like Poison and Guns ‘n’ Roses).

Where the hell was I? Oh yeah, The One. I find it funny that Jet Li stated that this movie would be more suitable for younger audiences than Kiss of the Dragon was. KOTD wasn’t more violent, it was just bloodier. The body count in The One is probably just as high as that of KOTD, if not higher. People get blown away left and right, and one poor sap gets crushed between two motorcycles. Also, when the hair-trigger agent is describing his favorite gun, he says it has an “antipersonnel warhead” or something like that. “Antipersonnel.” Doesn’t that just mean it kills people? Why dress it up? It’s a gun for fuck’s sake.

This isn’t a bad movie, but I hope Jet Li returns to more traditional ass-kicking. And without rap. Dear God how I hate rap. Dub this movie’s soundtrack onto Kiss of the Dragon and use the score, rather than a licensed song, for the last fight. THEN you’ve got a winning combination.

Numskull’s Rating: 6/10

By Williams

Take his evil character from Lethal Weapon 4, his dramatic charm from ‘Romeo Must Die’, and the energy from ‘Kiss of the Dragon’ and you’ve got One badass Jet Li flick right here. Wachowski brothers are shitting their pants! Should’ve given Jet the money he wanted for the Matrix sequels….

This isn’t the first film to duplicate it’s main actor to star and fight against himself. (Twin Dragons, Double Impact) but this is definitely the most successful. It seems like Jet Li takes the best of his performances since he’s entered Hollywood and fused them together as ONE (sorry, couldn’t resist). The story is original and leaves a lot of room for the audience to fill in the missing pieces. It doesn’t dwell on the story too much and I like how we find out what’s going on the same time with everyone else in the film.

And the fight scenes… oh boy! If you’ve liked The Matrix – then you will enjoy this movie. And if you liked Jet in his pre-Hollywood era you’ll love it even more. Jet performs pure Wushu – the martial art he studied as a youth. Looking back he always has so much emotion in his fight scenes – from facial expressions to physical movement (we first started seeing this in again KOD). Believe it or not he uses the martial art to tell the story of both characters he plays – such as the Yin/Yang soft and hard components of not only the art but the ONE who has developed them (sorry couldn’t resist again!) Moreover, their ability to to perform the art is enhanced with their understanding of their place in the universe.

The finale is nothing short of incredible. You really believe it’s Jet fighting himself. He performs traditional Wushu intensely as both characters! They do an unprecedented job of showing his face in the same angle while performing complex fight choreography. As a filmmaker that’s something to keep you hard for about a month!

Williams’ Rating: 9/10

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