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Synopsis: THE ONE, a supernatural action bonanza from director James Wong, stars martial arts expert Jet Li. With high-tech special effects and innovative choreography, the film places Li in various battle scenarios fighting against his equal--actually, his double, an evil version of himself living from another reality.
Okay, So I sat down and watched this flick like a good little reviewer should. I love Jackie Chan. I love Chow Yun Fat. I love Jet Li. But every once in awhile they make a film not quite worthy of their talents. The One is just such a film, it should be a Jean Claude Van Damme film...not Jet Li, he's better than this.
First off, it is only 80 minutes (not counting credits) and in that time there really is only one fight sequence of any real consequence and that is between the two Jet Li's.
Second, it is like they meshed Terminator 2 with Highlander and ended up with a slightly slower film child as a result. What I am saying is that the ideas are fine, they have worked before but here they just seem to get in the way of some possible fight sequences...but instead of all that great martial art choreography we have been getting spoiled with, it is a lot of running, shooting and exploding. In the 80's we loved that in our action films, that's why Schwarzenegger was a star...but things have changed, stars have changed, styles have changed and The One just doesn't live up to its promise.
Just to clarify about the martial arts...There are a few brief sequences of twists, turns, kicks and flips but I am talking a full on fight sequence really only appears in the last fifteen/ten minutes of the film.
I don't hate the film, i just feel sad for all the work put into a piece like this and have it being as about as exciting as a Meg Ryan flick. No offence Meg, you make sweet romantic comedies but action films are not your forte.
Besides, some of the effects...I hate to say this...they look pretty cheesy. Especially the one where evil Jet Li beats a cop with two motorcycles. In regular shots he looks normal but during the effects shots the lighting or something doesn't quite match giving him a displaced look within the scene taking one out of the film long enough to think...well that looks fake.
Not to mention some of the most illogical Hollywood devices ever concocted. The two leads, Jet Li vs. Jet Li would look great on paper I admit, but when it comes down to their fight sequences someone should have been paying attention. As they fight a factory explodes and burns all around, with one Jet Li walking through a burning shower of embers...apparently his clothing is almost invulnerable as well...but wait, no...when the filmmakers need to make the two men dress alike once more, they have Jet Li's shirt catch on fire so he will strip down to his t-shirt and look like himself. You got all that? No, I lost myself too...doesn't matter.
One final 'what the hell was he thinking?' moment. Jet Li plays his evil doppleganger like some blase, boring almost emotionless wanna-be. He doesn't ooze the presence he had in, say, Lethal Weapon 4 or Romeo Must Die. Charisma was not on the call sheet those days of working apparently.
The One is a fine Sunday afternoon rental but it is not a full fare, take the older kids to see it action flick.
Post Note: I only gave the movie 2 stars on its release but read the DVD review below as I bump it up to 3.5 stars for the DVD release.
Copyright© Written By: Rob Paul
Director And Writer Commentary
ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 [CC]
FRENCH: Dolby Digital Surround
The DVD Review:
Okay, starting off with the commentary with the director, production designer and cinematographer. It gives so much insight into changes that were made that actually weakened the film. For example, a discussion over the opening 'explanation' sequence...it was a sequence added after the preview screening to explain to the audience what they are about to watch. The original script apparently didn't mind playing a good game of letting the audience in on the secret as it evolves...a much better way of telling the story.
They also discuss elements of the film that had to be trimmed or changed due to to Sept. 11 (they previewed the film a mere two days later and a joke in an alternate universe of Palestine and Israel celebrating 50 years of peace hit the floor). Other elements were cut to achieve a PG-13 film...so perhaps one day a full director's cut will be released making the film a stronger movie overall.
The commentary is a good listen for fans of such things. Some interesting anecdotes, inside stories and bits that didn't make it to the final cut. A great example is a discussion that The One was written for The Rock and how the script changed as Jet Li's personality required a make over.
I have to give a lot more credit to the movie now that the commentary track lets you in on all the things that had to be compromised becuase of a PG rating. Going for these ratings hampers what could've been a great flick. Besides we all know, kids find ways tosneak into films...I always did.
Jet Li is The One: A mini featurette on the man and his art, including some fun little moments of cast and crew members discussing him. A funny little gag about Jet Li being the man you can beat up, but don't mess his hair is discussed. Jet Li also talks about the movie and comes off as more articulate here than he does within the movie itself.
Multiverse: There are two mini documentaries on this film and they are both great. Insightful, interesting, they show some of the new techniques they had to use to come up with bits that would make them work and show footage from behind the scenes that really illustrate the difficulties of building an action sequence from the ground up.
Face Time: What I like about the documentary here called Face Time is the comparative shots, showing the real Jet Li and the fake one, how the computer shots sometimes worked and how they hoped they cheated their way thorugh fast enough to get enough believability. I picked on the movie for the motorcycle sequence and as it turns out this was a later piece added after a preview...so they had less time and the CGI motorcycles never look as real as the actual ones they used.
While I only gave the movie 2 stars, the Special Edition DVD of The One gets another star and half for some solid commentary and great behind the scenes footage.