It's like being strapped to a spacecraft in a rainstorm, and being giddy with nausea. That Jet Li stars in this one doesn't quite manage to salvage it from a fast spiral down the celluloid chute.
It begins, intoning the common threat that we are not alone, there isn't a single universe, but a multiverse (as if that was possible). And if that's not bad enough, there are alternative versions of everybody in all these parallel universes. The catch here is, if any character from one universe dies, the common energy shared by the other versions of the same character in other universes gets divided between them, making them stronger, wiser and faster.
Gabriel Yulaw (Jet Li), a former security officer with the metaverse's monitoring body, turns renegade and plots to kill all other versions of himself, so that he accumulates all the energy and power that exists among them, and becomes God-like, The One.
After getting rid of the 123 others, there's just the last guy to off, this being Gabe Yulaw, a police officer in Los Angeles. The final showdown takes place on planet Earth, with Gabriel and Gabe (you'd get a migraine telling one from the other) doing SFX stunts in mid-air, that remind you of a mash between "The Matrix" and "Crouching Tiger..."
Now, while the concept is definitely unearthly, it would have shown promise if director James Wong managed to bridle the elaborate use of SFX and tried evincing a better performance from his cast. All of them, including Li, manage plastic performances, though Li's martial arts save what's left of the day.
"The One" is about as avoidable as the plague...and as much fun.This article was first published on 11 Feb 2002.