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A cop must fight his evil double from a parallel universe in order to save himself and the world.
For more about The One and the The One Blu-ray release, see the The One Blu-ray Review published by Greg Maltz on March 31, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jet Li, Carla Gugino, Delroy Lindo, Jason Statham, James Morrison, Dylan Bruno
Director: James Wong
» See full cast & crew
The One Blu-ray Review
Blending sci fi motifs with martial arts worked for The Matrix, but it will take more than a Blu-ray release to help The One.
Reviewed by Greg Maltz, March 31, 2009
The producers of The One hit upon a surefire way to double the appeal of crossover martial arts sensation Jet Li. They cast him as the good guy and the bad guy and had him fight himself. This is not as silly as it seems and it is not original, either. Jackie Chan fought himself in Twin Dragons as did Jean-Claude Van Damme in Double Impact. Although the dual identity doesn't help The One, it isn't the film's major problem either. The good and bad Jet Li use different fighting styles, which allows the movie to appeal more strongly to martial arts fans. The real problem with The One is that the sci fi is silly and has to constantly try to come up with even sillier explanations to defend its silliness. The acting and direction is a disaster. While the plot borrows heavily from the best sci fi on film: The Matrix, The Terminator, Timecop and The Highlander, it never achieves a fraction of the appeal of these blockbusters. By opening itself for comparison to those classics and failing to deliver, The One sealed its fate as an also-ran and a rather pedestrian, boring one at that. Sure, all the elements of sci fi grandeur are there, but it never gels together into a cohesive, gripping narrative and there are just enough effects to get in the way of the martial arts sequences. For those who do appreciate The One, this Blu-ray is a solid transfer and comes recommended over DVD versions.
The movie opens with a cop played by Jet Li being transferred from prison. No sooner is he out of custody then Gabriel Yulaw (Jet Li), a more evil and more powerful twin from another dimension appears to assassinate him. Next, two intergalactic cops, agent Harry Roedecker (Delroy Lindo) and agent Evan Funsch (Jason Statham) materialize and follow Yulaw to the typical sci fi "wormhole" that transports all three of them across the galaxy. It isn't pretty because their body parts transport separately, but it gets the job done. The premise is that infinite versions of a person can exist in alternate dimensions or universes and that Yulaw has been travelling between dimensions, killing different versions of himself and consolidating their power to make himself stronger and faster. So far, Yulaw has murdered 123 alternate versions of himself and only one more remains. As fate would have it, the last one is officer Gabe Law (Jet Li--who else?) of the Los Angeles police department.
The so-called multiverse agents, Roedecker and Funsch, are not doing a particularly stellar job of capturing Yulaw and preventing him from whacking his alternate versions. Part of their problem, according to agent Funsch, is that they can't kill him without compromising the safety of the entire universe. As he so eloquently puts it, "If we kill him, there's a chance the whole universe will go with him". Yeah, sure. Sci fi is at its worst when it has to make excuses for its own ineptness. Not to mention, the agents must be clueless if they couldn't prevent any of the previous 123 murders. You'd think they would have figured out how to thwart Yulaw's plan after his second or third alternate version turned up dead and then been able to prevent at least a dozen of the subsequent murders. Heck, in the Terminator films, everyone who travels through space and time seems to know exactly where to go. No matter, though. After 123 deaths, the agents are hot on Yulaw's trail, and trying to prevent murder 124.
One side effect of Yulaw killing so many of his alternates and making himself stronger is that it simultaneously makes Law stronger. So the plot rolls toward the inevitable showdown between Law and Yulaw, to find out who is "the one", complete with smoke and pyrotechnics you might expect in any B movie or heavy metal concert. The fight scenes are definitely the highlight of The One. They are choreographed by Cory Yuen. Unfortunately, they are also heavy on the CGI effects which was definitely necessary for Keanu Reeves and the uber-stylized, high-tech approach used in The Matrix. But in The One, the CGI techniques serve only to cover up the impressive talents of Mr. Li. His fighting has much more impact when shown without the veil of postproduced effects. While Li's kung fu chops are beyond reproach, he was still very green as a main character in a Hollywood production and his English skills still needed some work when The One was filmed. His tough-guy one-liners are delivered particularly weakly.
The One Blu-ray, Video Quality
The video presentation of The One is very accurate and detailed. Contrast is good, black level is spot-on and colors are rendered a touch on the clinical side, which is common for Sony transfers that tend to gravitate to yellow and cyan prominence. But it doesn't detract from the overall color balance or heat and skin tones appear more accurate than the recently reviewed Seven Pounds from Sony. As usual, no sign of edge enhancement or black crush are visible.
Overall, The One boasts a very modern, clean look, with only moderate signs of film grain. The detail and inky blacks generate good depth and accurate textures in clothes, hair and skin. While the definition is welcome and blows away the DVD version, it comes at a price. Yulaw's hokey expressions, which looked even a bit fierce in the standard definition NTSC versions showed his facial expression more clearly, revealing that he appears like he is trying to have a bowel movement when viewed in the 1080p transfer. The increased resolution also reveals some limitations of the sets. Some of them look fine, but others appear rather cheaply constructed. On the plus side, we get to see Carla Gugino, who delivers the eye candy.
The One Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The audio presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 is smooth and crisp, with vocal timbres delivered with good detail and clarity. The score by Trevor Rabin and songs in the soundtrack are presented with a lush midrange and taught bass. The song choice is somewhat odd for a sci fi movie: "Bodies" and "Sinner" performed by Drowning Pool, "Down With The Sickness" performed by Disturbed, "Train Of Dreams" performed by Jesse Dayton, "Knock Three Times" performed by Tony Orlando & Dawn, "There's A Moon Out Tonight" performed by The Capris, "Blood Brothers" and "Last Resort" performed by Papa Roach, "Awake" performed by Godsmack and "Papercut" performed by Linkin Park. It's an odd assortment, but oddly it becomes the best thing about the movie behind the fight scenes. Treble appears detailed and extended with good bass slam during the few moments where it really matters. Strong LFE content exists in a few scenes such as car chases. The surround field is also engineered well, with conservative use of surrounds.
The One Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The bonus material included on the Blu-ray is essentially the same as that on the DVD, without even an upgrade to high definition. The material has been discussed at length elsewhere. It includes:
Director and Crew Commentary
Making of: Jet Li is the One
Multiverses Create the One
About Face: the Many Faces of Jet Li
The One Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The One was clearly a weak attempt to capitalize on the MTV generation that flocked to movies like The Matrix and The Terminator. Director James Wong and X-files writer Glen Morgan just weren't up to the challenge. Even the title of the film harkens back to another glam-rock infused action flick with a sci fi hook: The Highlander. But that movie worked, as did its tagline: there can be only one. It used the music and fight scenes in the flow of the narrative, and the bad guy was really quite a threatening brute. The threat of physical danger must be a driving force of tension in movies like this, and for all his martial arts capability, Jet Li just couldn't become a convincingly scary bad guy. My favorite thing about The One is its running time. It didn't even waste an hour and a half of my life. That said, the Blu-ray does give you a very nice upgrade to high definition picture and sound, so fans of martial arts, sci fi and Jet Li may want to have this clunker in their library just for nostalgia's sake.
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The One Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The One; Ghosts of Mars Announced for Blu-ray - January 19, 2009
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring Jet Li's 'The One' and John Carpenter's 'Ghosts of Mars' to Blu-ray on March 31st. Video for both of these titles will be presented in 2.40:1 1080p AVC accompanied by a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. ...
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