Plot: What’s it about?
Yulaw (Jet Li) is a renegade criminal who is wanted for killing over one hundred people, all of whom have something in common. The victims are all the same person in truth, the same person as Yulaw even, just found in alternate universes. Yulaw discovered that if he could travel to the other universes and murder his counterpart there, the lifeforce from the dead would revert to him. This means he would be faster, smarter, and stronger, and after over one hundred kills, he has become superman in most respects. Once he has knocked off all the other versions of himself, he will have infinite power and becomes unstoppable, he will become The One. His reign of terror needs only one more victim to attain that level, the Los Angeles police officer Gabe. But the lifeforce freed via the murders hasn’t all went to Yulaw, it has been divided between the two of them, so Gabe is far from defenseless. So with two agents (Delroy Lindo & Jason Statham) in pursuit, Yulaw takes aim on Gabe and seeks to become immortal. But the rules dictate that if Yulaw is killed, Gabe must also be struck down, to keep him from getting the massive power stroke. Can Gabe somehow overtake Yulaw, avoid capture, and surmise a way to survive?
This movie has a big name lead in Jet Li, a wide selection of great special effects, stunning visuals, some killer fight scenes, a chaotic storyline, and some memorable action sequences, all which combines to forge one hell of an entertaining picture. Yes, it has plotholes and no, it doesn’t have a message to deliver, but come on, sometimes you just want to be dazzled and The One is more than up to that task. Li tackles dual roles and even takes himself on in a fight, all in the name of keeping the various parallel universes under control. The storyline is decent, but still asks us to suspend disbelief, which isn’t hard to do here, since The One throws so much eye candy to distract us. The concept plays out well despite the flaws and the turns unfold in a smooth fashion, so it is never hard to follow the events. The One is not the best action movie I’ve seen, but it has some real positive traits and with the touches of science/fiction thrown in, turns out to be one of 2001’s better action offerings. As such, it is recommended to all those interested and thanks to Columbia’s great disc, a rental or purchase is justified.
I always enjoy watching Jet Li in action, but in The One, he gets a chance to do something he doesn’t do often, which makes it even better. No, I don’t mean taking on multiple characters, I mean playing a bad guy and all things considered, I think Li makes one wicked villain. His scenes as the evil Yulaw are really a pleasure to watch, as Li seems to bask in his badness and that adds a lot to the flick’s value. I hope we see more of Li on the bad side of the coin to be sure, but he also manages well as the good guy, so a a nice balance would be cool. In his American films, Li hasn’t been given much chance to act, but that changes here and Li gets to use all of his skills, not just his martial arts abilities. He still kicks serious ass in the action scenes of course, but it is good to see him given a good amount of lines also. Other films with Li include Kiss of the Dragon, Fist of Legend, My Father is a Hero, New Legend of Shaolin, and Romeo Must Die. The cast also includes Delroy Lindo (The Last Castle, The Cider House Rules), Carla Gugino (Snake Eyes, Son in Law), and Jason Statham (Snatch, Ghosts of Mars).
Video: How does it look?
The One is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As you’d expect from a day & date release, the transfer looks superb and leaves little room for complaints, aside from some slight grain in a couple scenes. The film’s often dark visuals are well presented here, thanks to razor sharp black levels and a high level of detail, both of which are vital here. The dark and metallic colors shine in this transfer, but the brighter hues also come through well, including flesh tones, which look natural here. This is a clean, sharp looking new release from Columbia, who continues to maintain an elite status in that respect.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 option is a great one and really lets loose at times, which will have your system working overtime, to be sure. The more action driven scenes have the most power of course, pushing the surrounds and bass to good ends, perhaps even reference points at times, very impressive indeed. Those super high peaks don’t come often, which is why the perfect score isn’t given, but some scenes do merit reference status, I think. The dialogue is clean and crisp throughout also, while the more refined audio is well presented too, so this is an excellent all around audio effort. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English, French, Korean, Chinese, and Thai.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release doesn’t just look & sound good, it also packs a good selection of extras, including a few behind the scenes featurettes. A total of four featurettes are found here, each of which focus on a different aspect of the production, from the complicated premise to the martial arts prowess of Jet Li. Need even more of the inside scoop? Then check out some audio commentary from director James Wong, as well as additional crew members, who provide additional insight into how The One was brought into cinematic reality. This disc also includes some talent files, animatic comparison, and the film’s theatrical trailer.