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Movie Review

The One

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for thematic elements, drug and sexual content.

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teen to Adult
Sci-Fi, Action
1 hr. 20 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
November 2, 2001
Relevant Issues
Jet Li in “The One”. Photo copyright by Columbia Tristar.
Featuring: Jet Li, Delroy Lindo, Carla Gugino, Jason Statham, Jet Li Lian-jie
Director: James Wong
Producer: Glen Morgan, Steve Chasman, James Wong
Distributor: Columbia Tristar

Parallel universes—the idea is intriguing. These other-world ideas are not new. C.S. Lewis penned them in his allegorical “Chronicles of Narnia”; sci-fi fans recognize it from TV’s “Sliders”. Unfortunately, “The One” is every Sci-Fi fans worst nightmare: a big studio (Columbia Pictures) gets a big budget and blows it on an inferior movie.

Jet Li in “The One” The multiverse in this flic is intended to create some suspense and maybe challenge to the imagination. But only two of a possible 124 parallel worlds in James Wong’s multiverse is explored. You can separate one world from another by determining who is the U.S. President—Al Gore or George Bush (presenting Universal Health Care to Congress).

Nicholas Meyer proved in 1979 in the much-better “Time After Time” that chasing someone through time could be very suspenseful. If that’s what you want, skip this and rent that. “The One” also fails miserably in the area of ego vs. ego. Jet Li, with a growing following of fans due to his Martial Arts prowess, may find himself losing some with this turkey. Some critics say Li could be the next Mel Gibson, but it is appearing that Jean-Claude Van Damme may be the closer comparison. With just four of his 40 films in his English-language portfolio, studios have convinced him to recycle dual-action-roles that have failed other would-be stars. Mix in some really lame dialogue and shallow narratives and you’re stuck with a cinematic mix that makes even “Battlefield Earth” look good.

Jet Li plays Gabe, Yulaw, Lawless. Yulaw is the villain of our story and Gabe, an LA County Sheriff’s deputy, is our unlikely hero. He is pursued through these different dimensions by Redecker (Delroy Lindo) and Funsch (James Statham). They are agents of the Multiverse Bureau of Investigation. Yulaw is sentenced to the Hades Universe for his multiple murders. Killing is so casual that they count down his victims for us before sentencing. Yulaw has murdered himself 123 times in other worlds. He is also a former agent of the MBI. When he first killed himself in another universe, he discovered it gave him extra energy. Yulaw then got this brilliant idea to become THE ONE. He wants all the power of his other selves. Each death has made him stronger, faster, and smarter. Quicker than you can “rip-off “The Matrix” again”, Yulaw can now dodge bullets, jump over high walls, and be clocked by police radar at running over 50 mph.

The action and special effects (supposed to keep your mind from the poor plot) come across contrived and staged. And the battle between Gabe and Yulaw? Watch out, cause if these two fighting each other both die, then there goes the universe (literally).

There are some other negatives besides the violence: a homosexual “king-of-the-hill” plot point at the end, and two men discuss gay pornography while they are working.

“The One” is not an action film for children, so don’t take them. However, there is very little language and no sex. But even with that said, “The One” is not a must-see.

Viewer Comments
Negative—I really liked this movie. The effects were cool. Not too much cussing, although the entire theory about getting more strength by killing your counterpart was not correct. I thought it was cool, all action-loving guys need to see this movie.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
Blake Wolf, age 13
Negative—My husband and I could not wait until this movie was over. It was very unrealistic and a waste of our time. We were both very bored. The storyline stinks!
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 1]
Diane, age 31
Negative—When my friend asked me to go see The One, I wasn’t expecting to see the next Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I knew it was just a Matrix rip-off, but I had hoped to enjoy spending the time with my friends, anyway. However, this was one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a long time. The idea behind the plot was okay, the acting was bad, and the script was worse. The soundtrack was horrible—I like hard rock, but the bands they picked were some of the worst of the genre, both musically and lyrically. There were also some plot holes—for example, the idea is that we each exist in other universes, and if only one of us is left, we have superhuman powers, as we are shown by the main character who kills his counterparts and becomes strong. But what happens when all of them but one die in old age anyway? There would be a lot of “the ones” jumping over buildings at the age of 100 if the counterparts of someone in the other universes had all died naturally. Some people may enjoy the action and the bad special effects. I however, couldn’t as a result of the horrendous flaws.
My Ratings: [Average / 2]
Brianna, age 14
Neutral—I was a Jet Li fan ever since I was a little kid… and I was very very disappointed with this movie he made. It was basically not “Jet Li” at all! There was too many absurd moves in this movie… I would rather save the money if I was you, and go watch a Jackie Chan movie…
My Ratings: [Average / 2]
Grace, age 17
Positive—This movie was really awesome. While it didn’t have the greatest acting, or grade A effects, it was an original concept—something Hollywood doesn’t produce much of nowadays… There is no sex, very little language, no gore of any kind, and less crude humor than Shrek.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
Matt Magnus, age 18
Neutral—Very confusing, the fighting is very very fake. If you want a peaceful night do not see this movie. But if you like action it is an okay movie but the story is very confusing.
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
Jarrod, age 13
Negative—Lots of violence (non-martial arts), some bad language, hard-rock music, and weak plot. The only worthwhile scene is the last martial arts fight scene. Why not wait until this comes on video and fast-forward to that last scene. As a Christian, you would be better off. My husband and I rarely (and I mean rarely) go to a theatre to see movies anymore but because he is a martial arts instructor and we were told the movie was “clean” we ventured out. I must admit we were both shocked at how the general public laughs at crude jokes, swearing and violence…
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2½]
J. Vaughn, age 43
Negative—don’t waste your time on this awful movie. Jet Li CANNOT act. The story is lame. You leave the theater wishing you would have stayed home. The most impressive scenes were shown in the trailer preview. If you just have to go see a martial arts film, go see “Iron Monkey.” “Iron Monkey” was better than this terrible movie!
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 1]
Rena, age 36
Positive—Actually, I really, really enjoyed this movie. A very fun, “leave your brain at the door” movie, if you will. The special effects were very cool, as ripped off The Matrix as they may be. The acting isn’t that good, but there’s hardly any acting anyway (most of the movie is action.) The soundtrack is excellent (if you listen to hard metal; otherwise you may not approve.) There were references to porn and one reference to penile implants, but a few utters of the s-word is all the foul language in this movie. Critics complain it is like watching a video game, but that’s why I like it!! My only complaint is that it was too short (80 min.) Very fun movie in my opinion, I’m buying it when it comes out on DVD!!
My Ratings: [Average / 1½]
ELPsteel, age 15
Negative—This movie was extremely boring and predictable. The CGI special effects were sub-par. The plot was terrible. The martial arts and action scenes were nothing spectacular. I loved the matrix, as many people who have seen it do. But Hollywood needs to wake up and stop making rip-offs of this great film. Since then all action movies “have” to include bullet-dodging, camera rotations, and slo-mo effects. The only thing sadder then cheapening the original (The Matrix), is how these writers try to include the special effects in the films without being “too much like the first”. C’mon, am I supposed to believe that Charlie’s Angels can dodge bullets? As for me, I’ll wait for Matrix 2.
My Ratings: [Average / 1½]
Craig, age 18
Movie Critics
…action is non-stop as Good and Evil are evenly matched in this battle…
Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…14 scatological terms… 5 religious profanities [or exclamations]…