The One

As great a martial artist as Jet Li is (and he is probably one of the best acting today), his acting ability and film choice will always hamper the quality of his films. He is not doing a good job of picking roles, and the roles he is not doing a great job of acting in them. Li (Kiss of the Dragon, Romeo Must Die) embodies the epitomy of Hong Kong martial arts cinema, with its graceful, violent, and unrealistic martial arts. Unfortunately, in The One, the action gets in the way of the story, leaving the movie a muddled mess. The concept comes straight out of a comic book. There are parallel universes, where each person has a counterpart. If somebody were to begin eliminating his/her counterparts, the essence will redistribute amongst the remaining counterparts. Think Highlander, except with the same person.

Yulaw (Li) is trying to gain all the power; to become 'the one.' He is a criminal, traveling across universes and killing himself. Nobody knows what will happen once there is only one, so Roedecker (Delroy Lindo, The Last Castle, Gone in Sixty Seconds) and Funsch (Jason Statham, Turn It Up, Snatch) are hot on his tail. They work for an agency that enforces the laws regarding travel across universes. Yulaw evades them and ends up in this universe, where Gabriel (hey, it's Li again) is a policeman, happily married to T.K. (Carla Gugino, The Center of the World, Spy Kids). Yulaw immediately tries to kill Gabriel, and the police mistake the two. So now, they are after Gabriel. Gabriel also finds that his own strength is increasing, and this confuses him.

Once he realizes what is happening (and after a couple predictable twists) he vows to go after Yulaw. This is the latest movie from the team of James Wong (director and co-writer) and Glen Morgan (writer). The two were behind Final Destination, Space: Above and Beyond, and as well as a number of memorable episodes of The X-files and Millennium. Except for some martial arts, there is nothing to distinguish The One from any other action movie. The acting isn't great, the dialogue is worse, and the story is even worse.

Li is such a good martial artist that some of these special effects hinder his abilities. Because they each have multiple essences, Yulaw and Gabriel have super strength. Watching Yulaw crush a man between two motorcycles (one in each hand) is boring. Wong also slows down the people around Yulaw, as he beats the crap out of them. Part of the appeal of some of these movies is how it looks like there is a remote possibility somebody can do the stunts. The One is a little too ridiculous. Li jumping across buildings is okay, but some of the other stuff he does are laughable (but they still look great). And Li fighting Li almost smacks of arrogance. Li also has the whole nice guy thing going for him. He is just not credible as a villain. So rent Once Upon a Time in China instead. It's much better.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 27 minutes, Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, drug and sexual content.

Back to Movies