Reviewed by GREG KING
(Revolution Studios/Columbia Tristar)
Director: James Wong
Stars: Jet Li, Delroy Lindo, Jason Statham, Carla Gugino, James Morrison, Dean Norris
Running time: 87 minutes.
Martial arts action heroes Jet Li and his contemporary Jackie Chan have followed different paths in Hollywood. While Chan has preferred to make a string of light weight action comedies, Li has appeared in some big budget vehicles that have been full of violence and action but low on credibility. His fourth Hollywood film is a high concept sci-fi thriller about a killer travelling through parallel universes. Combining elements of Quantum Leap, Time Cop, The Matrix and Highlander with the typical martial arts biffo expected from a made-in-Hollywood Jet Li thriller, The One is, somewhat surprisingly, an exciting and undeniably pacy action film.
Using quantum technology, man is able to travel between parallel universes (a multiverse) using a portal that opens at certain times. However, the practice is frowned upon, and a special task force (Multiple Universe Agency) has been set up to deal with unauthorised travel. Yulaw (Li) is a corrupt cop travelling between parallel universes to murder alternative versions of himself and absorbing their power. He has so far killed 123 versions of himself, and the only remaining alternate Law left in the multiverse is Gabe (Li, again), a decent LA cop. When Yulaw travels to our universe to try and kill Gabe he is pursued by two MUA cops (Delroy Lindo and Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels’ Jason Statham) determined to stop him.
The premise behind the film is quite intriguing, but the overall emphasis is on action here, and there are a number of quite brutal set pieces. In a dual role, Li certainly lives up to his reputation and he delivers the goods in the many fight scenes, which will please fans. The climax is a spectacularly inventive sequence that sees good Li versus bad Li in combat, which gives him a chance to display the athleticism and martial arts expertise which has made him a favourite in the genre.
The special effects are okay if not spectacular, especially given the technology available to film makers now. The characters are one dimensional, and the performances of the cast are perfectly suited to the material.
The One has been created by writer Glen Morgan and director James Wong, whose last film was the teen slasher thriller Final Destination. Wong’s direction is less than emphatic, almost as he seems to rely far too heavily on Li’s charisma to carry the film. But his Hollywood career could become stuck in a rut, and Li could become another Steven Seagal or Dolph Lundgren if he keeps choosing second rate action films like The One.