The One
Li vs Li. The two Yulaws fight it out...
dir James Wong
scr Glen Morgan, James Wong
with Jet Li, Jason Statham, Delroy Lindo, Carla Gugino, James Morrison, Dylan Bruno, Richard Steinmetz, Ron Zimmerman, Steve Rankin, Tucker Smallwood, Harriet Sansom Harris, Mark Borchardt
release US 2.Nov.01; UK 12.Apr.02
Columbia
02/US 1h27

2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
the most dangerous man in the universe is you Sooner or later all action stars do a film that features two of them fighting each other. Jet Li gets 125 versions of himself in this parallel universe thriller, but 122 of them have been killed by the time the story starts (cue the hilarious slide show of Li in various wigs!). Anyway, the story is in an alternate reality where Yulaw (Li) can travel between universes, gaining power every time he kills that particular version of himself. Then after dispatching the 123rd, he only has one to go before he is The One. Nobody is quite sure what that will mean--an end to the "multiverse"? A new god? So a pair of cops (Statham and Lindo) are on his trail as he faces up to the final him, a tough L.A. cop who won't go lying down. And he has a feisty wife (Gugino) to help him.

The premise is actually quite cool, and it hooks us in early on with Matrix-like effects work and astonishing stunts and fight sequences. The film looks great (thanks to X-Files alumni Wong and Morgan)--directed with real style and energy, constantly pushing forward to the big finale in a thoroughly entertaining way. Li is a decent action hero, Lindo and Gugino are far better than the film deserves, and Statham tries his best to bark through the role he's given. Alas, besides the eye-catching visuals, the filmmakers never make much of their idea. There are a couple of wink-wink political gags (in one universe Gore is president; in another President Bush is launching a universal health plan), but the filmmakers go for action over substance every time, leaving the story in a pool of cliches. There are two under-explained romances between Li and Gugino, the two final Yulaws just happen to end up wearing the same outfit, and the big climax is in--what else?--a warehouse full of huge machines spraying water, steam, sparks and flames ... and of course massive explosions. Yawn! For something with the potential to be a true original, we certainly deserve more.
themes, violence, language cert 15 9.Apr.02

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
the most dangerous man in the universe is you send your review to Shadows... "This was a great film. The idea of a person fighting themself in a film has been done before but not with Jet Li, and to say it's his first sci-fi it was brilliant. It combined visual effects that take the breath away with traditional Chinese martial arts. The fight scenes were very good! The only thing that was wrong was that the story was covered by all the special effects. I know that people are allowed their own views, but to anyone who watched this film and did not like it I say go back home and watch Plunkett & Macleane! Out of ten I give it: 9/10." --Kevin Bannon, Manchester 15.Apr.02.
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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