Now here's something you don't see everyday: a movie title that matches
the number of stars most critics are going to give to it.
After Jet Li's last film, "Romeo Must Die," "The One" comes as quite a
disappointment. It's a disappointment for anyone who saw the trailer, as
well. Ads for "The One" show Li doing a lot of "Matrix" style behavior -
dodging bullets, defying gravity, yadda yadda yadda - while the narrator
talks of a man with special powers who might become the One. It gives
the impression of being a story about how a man in our reality could get
the abilities of someone in the reality of "The Matrix" or "Crouching
Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
No such luck. "The One" merely strings together a lot of not very
special fight scenes with a hackneyed sci-fi tale. Writer Glen Morgan
and co-writer/director James Wong speculate that there are numerous
parallel universes (the multiverse - a term DC Comics has used for a
couple of decades at least), each with its own Earth populated by
variations of all of us.
If true, that means there are hundreds of Ed Johnson-Otts on alternate
Earths, each trying to get their review of this lame little movie
finished before deadline. How depressing is that?
Gabriel Yulaw (Li), a former officer in the Multiverse Bureau of
Investigation, has gone renegade, traveling from one universe to the
next murdering variants of himself. He believes that as each
doppleganger is snuffed, the power of his life force is shared by the
survivors. When he finally kills the last double, all the power will
flow into him and he will become the One.
Oh, this guy has got to be a Republican.
After snuffing 123 of his look-alikes, Yulaw heads for the final
confrontation, pursued by M.B.I. agents Roedecker (Delroy Lindo) and
Funsch (Jason Statham). But this Gabriel Yulaw, best known as Gabe, is
unaware of any extra-dimensional hijinks. He just wants to live a nice,
normal life with his wife T.K. (Carla Gugino) and is unprepared to do
battle with his own bad ass self.
The idea is fine, I suppose, but the filmmakers merely use it as a
clothesline to hang fight scenes on. Li gets ample opportunity to strut
his martial arts stuff, but we've seen plenty of that before. His acting
is tolerable, although at times he seems less assured with his lines
than he did in "Romeo Must Die." The other key players are fine,
particularly Jason Statham and the always powerful Delroy Lindo. As far
as the special effects, do you remember those Godawful futuristic scenes
in "The Terminal?" The aerial battles here look just as bad.
I suspect the filmmakers hoped that "The One" would do for Jet Li what
"The Terminator" did for Arnold Schwarzenegger, but my bet is that his
payoff will be less than Jean-Claude Van Damme got for "Universal
Soldier 2," which was zero. And zero is even worse than one.
Copyright © 2001 Edward Johnson-Ott