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JET LI:  THE ONE

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Jet Li, Delroy Lindo, Carla Gugino, Jason Statham
Director: James Wong
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1, Standard 1.33:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 87 Minutes
Release Date: March 5, 2002

“There has never been anything like what I have become.”

Film ***

The One, as generic as the title sounds, is actually appropriately named in the sense that is perhaps the one guilty pleasure I encountered of any releases last year. The plot is essentially made up of sci-fi gobbledy goo, which is illustrated right from the movie’s opening introduction about the state of traveling between universes. What makes the movie worth the while, other than the engaging Matrix-like fight scenes, is the star, Jet Li, who is not only the film’s hero, but the villain as well. It comes as perfect timing for the action star to play both roles in the same movie, since he has obviously tackled both roles so well, playing the protagonist in Kiss of the Dragon and Romeo Must Die, as well as playing a memorable deadly force in Lethal Weapon 4, his first American release.

We learn in the opening that there is not one universe, but in fact many, creating what is known as a “Multiverse”. Each of us exists in parallel worlds, 125 different worlds to be exact, and traveling between universes is highly restricted and policed. This is a law that Yulaw (Li) is destined to break. He has already been successful in killing 123 versions of himself through engaging in illegal world traveling. Why is he wanting to kill all versions of himself? It is revealed that when a version of a person is destroyed, the energy divides amongst the survivors. Yulaw is looking to destroy all other versions so that he can become “the one”, which will no doubt result in becoming an indestructible force.

After escaping authorities who are about to sentence him to a life sentence, Yulaw travels to his new destination to seek his next target, which is a Los Angeles deputy sheriff named Gabe, also played by Li. Pursuing Yulaw restlessly through the dimensions are agents Roedecker (Delroy Lindo) and Funsch (Jason Statham), who lead the Multiverse Bureau of Investigations. The rest of the movie is essentially an extended chase scene, which leads to the climatic battle between Jet Li and, well, Jet Li, which is the movie’s standout moment.

I mentioned earlier that the fight scenes in The One are Matrix-like. As much as I am getting tired of countless films trying to copy such a breakthrough film, The One throws some neat trimmings on its combat scenes. The opening battle between Yulaw and a swat team is mind blowing, especially when he punches one guy into the air, which is done in super slow motion, beats up two more cops, and then successfully kicks his first victim to the side before he hits the ground. It maybe gravity defying stretched out to the third power, but it’s visually gazing. I also got a kick of seeing Yulaw cremating another victim by quickly lifting a police motorcycle with one hand and swinging it in his victim’s direction.

Directed by James Wong (Final Destination), The One is pure definite escapist fun, fueled by Jet Li’s charisma, the engaging fight scenes, and a killer soundtrack. It’s no Kiss of the Dragon, but it’s a more than acceptable entry from the martial arts sensation.

Video ****

This is truly THE ONE, in terms of being Columbia Tri Star’s best transfer in quite some time, perhaps since their release for Final Fantasy. Both an anamorphic widescreen version and a full screen version are offered on this dual layered disc, but we all know which version is the one to watch. Picture quality is a hundred percent in all aspects, and it is as crisp and unique as they come. The image encounters no flaws whatsoever, making for a purely grand DVD presentation of universal proportions.

Audio ****

This movie is frequent with wall-to-wall action, and the audio job on the DVD enhances this effect to the fullest. The 5.1 audio mix is blazing with sound power. The audio power masters not only that of the action sequences, especially when capturing that Matrix slow motion vibe, but that of the monstrous soundtrack in the film which includes such hard hitting tracks as “Bodies” by Drowning Pool, “Down With the Sickness” by Disturbed, and “Last Resort” by Papa Roach, which all serve as back up on certain action scenes in the movie. If you’re seeking a disc with an ear shattering sound and extreme presence, look no further than The One.

Features ***1/2

Another Special Edition triumph from Columbia Tri Star. Featured are a couple of behind the scenes documentaries, a director and crew commentary, animatic comparisons, an exclusive stunts features, and a trailer.

Summary:

The One hits the mark in terms of pure escapist action entertainment that fans of both Jet Li and sci-fi action films are likely to get a pure kick out of.