STARRING: Jet Li, Carla Gugino, Jason Statham, Delroy Lindo

2001, 80 Minutes, Directed by: James Wong

Description: This sci-fi thriller establishes a "multiverse" consisting of countless parallel universes, each populated by variants of every individual. Li plays a renegade from the Multiverse Agency, illegally traveling through "quantum tunnels" to eliminate all versions of himself until only two remain, each sharing the cumulative strength of their "parallel universe versions."

In my review of Ghosts of Mars I gave several reasons why one shouldn't go around downloading pirated movies from the Internet, chief reason being that you might just end up spending a lot of time and effort on a truly rubbish movie. Unlike Ghosts of Mars you would feel better about downloading The One. (For some reason, both movies star Jason Statham of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels fame. He is a lot better in this movie than in Ghosts; then again, this is a better movie all-round.)

Actually The One can be a lot of fun once you convince yourself not to pay too much attention to the fact that it unashamedly rips off the kung fu action sequences of The Matrix. Time standing still? Check. Dodging slow motion CGI bullets? Check. Impossible physical feats? Check. Yup, it's all there - and at times you'd feel as if you're watching The Matrix 2.

At least these devices serves a plot purpose in The One. In recent big budget action movies such as Charlie's Angels and Mission Impossible 2 such flourishes are merely used as stylistic touches and are used for no reason except that film-makers feel in a post-Matrix world that this is the sort of thing that filmgoers expect from their action movies. In The One the protagonists can do all these incredible things because, well, they're supernaturally powerful.

The plot goes like this: the character played by Jet Li has killed off all his "selves" in alternate universes and in the process gained their powers and strength. I can't think of any movie right now that actually features that old sci-fi staple of alternate universes and for this The One scores some points. (It even has some fun with the notion: in one alternate universe Al Gore is President of the United States. In another, President George W. Bush announces universal health care - ha! ha!)

What happens when Li kills off all his "selves"? Who knows? Can anyone remember what happened to the Christopher Lambert character at the end of Highlander when he became "the one"? Besides stealing from this movie, my brother said that The One reminded him a lot of Timecop - that 1994 actioner starring Jean Claude van Damme. To be honest I can't remember much from that movie except that it also stars a martial arts "star" (van Damme) playing two versions of himself. I was also reminded of Terminator 2 a lot.

So The One isn't particularly original, but at least the action is fast and furious and the director wisely realises that letting Jet Li say as little as possible is a good idea. Li's English is bad and he really can't act, but he can kick well and the director lets him do that a lot. The supporting cast is however game, especially the two cops out to get the "evil" Li character (shades of Critters) and the effects are quite well done. Brainless, for sure, but you can do a lot worse than downloading The One from the Internet . . .



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