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James Wong
Jet Li, Carla Gugino, Delroy Lindo, Jason Statham, James Morrison
Writing Credits:
Glen Morgan, James Wong

Stealing the power of the universes one by one.
Box Office:
Budget $49 million.
Opening weekend $19.112 million on 2894 screens.
Domestic gross $43.905 million.

Rated PG-13 for intense action violence and some language.

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1

Runtime: 87 min.
Price: $26.95
Release Date: 8/5/2003

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Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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The One (Superbit)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 22, 2003)

Certain parties who work on this website seem to feel the DVD-buying public has an insatiable appetite for all things Jet Li. Certain parties put pressure on other parties Ė thatíd be me Ė to make sure that we cover all things Jet Li. Certain parties were happy to do this for a while, since those parties once thought he seemed like an exciting and compelling performer.

The latter party changed his mind about that, however. Why? Flicks like Romeo Must Die and Kiss of the Dragon, thatís why. In a small part, Li impressed me in 1998ís Lethal Weapon 4, but with more time on screen, heís done nothing but leave me uninterested in the other movies.

As such, I resisted the call of certain parties for me to review Liís latest extravaganza, The One. If anything, this flick seemed the least appealing of the bunch; Iím not eager to watch one Li, but he played multiple roles in this movie.

Like the good little soldier I am, I went ahead and checked out The One anyway. Unfortunately, the experience was just as unstimulating as I expected. As Iíll explain, the movie actually had a lot of potential, but the end result was a dud.

At the start of The One, we learn that there are multiple universes, and different versions of ourselves exist in each one. In some of these places, theyíve learned how to jump between universes, and a particular inhabitant named Yulaw (Li) tries to use that for his own personal advantage. By accident, he discovers that when another version of himself dies, that personís energy splits among the remaining editions. As such, he hops from realm to realm and eventually offs 123 of the 125 possible renditions.

The Multiverse Police remain on his tail for many of these, as represented by agents Roedecker (Delroy Lindo) and Funsch (Jason Statham). Frankly, with 123 failures to date, Iím not sure why anyone thinks the 124th Ė and final Ė one will be any different, but since horrible ramifications could occur if Yulaw eliminates the final other him, they need to try. No one knows what might happen, but some fear the end of all universes.

So the cops head after Yulaw as he attempts to take down his last remaining ďbrotherĒ, Gabe (Li again). Basically the remainder of the film follows this chase and its ensuing battles. Yulaw goes after Gabe, Gabe goes after Yulaw, and thatís about it.

That last factor really provides the main reason The One exists: filmmakers love the novelty of showing a performer interact with him/herself. Didnít this get old with The Patty Duke Show? Actually, I think Jean-Claude Van Damme had more of an influence over The One. He made the only other ďdude kicks his own assĒ movie I can recall Ė 1991ís Double Impact - and I thought the Multiverse police owed a definite debt to his 1994 opus, Timecop.

Interestingly, The One was originally intended as a vehicle for wrestling superstar The Rock, but he elected to do instead. Would this film have been more compelling with the Steroid King at the fore? Perhaps, for some of my complaints about it related to Liís lack of charisma. While I donít like wrestling at all, I must admit The Rock offers a bright and compelling character, while Li seems totally devoid of any personality. Perhaps he comes across as livelier in his Asian films Ė the language difficulties may make it more difficult for him to seem natural and engaging Ė but I get the feeling heís just a dull guy.

The remaining cast includes some good performers, but they donít get to do very much to stand out from the crowd. Really, the whole point of the exercise is for the gimmick of the Li versus Li fighting, and I suppose thatís enough for some people. Personally, those scenes didnít do a lot for me. Li definitely is an impressive martial artists, but the staging of the fights seemed too flashy and glitzy for my liking. It didnít help that the techniques used to hide Liís doubles made the scenes awkwardly shot at times.

Director James Wong shows little inventiveness during the film. The action scenes invariably incorporated aggressive rock music and gimmicks like ďbullet timeĒ and wire work that are increasingly becoming tiresome. The result feels very derivative and stale, as Wong has little new to introduce to the genre.

This seems especially sad because at its heart, The One actually offers a pretty cool story. Itís a clever concept that could have been very compelling. Unfortunately, as executed, itís bland and lifeless. As filmed, The One just seems like one long missed opportunity.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A (DTS) A- (DD)/ Bonus F

The One appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While the original DVD of The One looked pretty good, the Superbit version slightly improved upon it.

Sharpness consistently appeared excellent. At all times, the picture offered solid clarity and delineation, as I noticed no signs of any soft or fuzzy sequences. Jagged edges and moirť effects presented no problems, and the minor edge enhancement from the first DVD seemed absent here. In regard to print flaws, I saw a smidgen of grain at times, but otherwise the image remained clean and fresh.

Like many sci-fi films of this sort, The One featured a generally subdued palette. The film favored cool, metallic blues and didnít often offer many brighter tones. Nonetheless, the various tones seemed well reproduced and clear, and I detected no problems related to noise, bleeding or other issues. Black levels came across as deep and rich, while shadow detail was clear and appropriately heavy. The image looked very similar when compared to the prior disc, but the apparent absence of edge enhancement gave the Superbit edition the edge.

As with other Superbit releases, The One came with both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. The former seemed to replicate what I heard on the original DVD, so Iíll duplicate my comments about it and then address the DTS version. I expected an active mix and thatís what it provided. All five channels received a nice workout, as the track showed solid stereo music in the front as well as a compelling and involving environment. Effects seemed well delineated and accurately placed within the spectrum, and they moved cleanly and smoothly from speaker to speaker. The surrounds added reinforcement of the music and quite a lot of action elements; especially cool was the ďtwisterĒ effect during the wormhole bits.

Audio quality was also very good. Some lines seemed awkwardly dubbed and sounded a bit flat, but for the most part, speech was distinct and natural, and I detected no problems related to intelligibility. Music was bright and vibrant and showed positive fidelity and clarity. Effects came across as clear and accurate, and they also packed a nice punch when appropriate. Bass response seemed deep and tight, with no boominess.

I thought the DTS track improved slightly on the Dolby one, mostly because it seemed a little more powerful. Part of that stemmed from differences in mastering volume, as the DTS mix was much louder, and that could cause it to present a greater impact. However, even when I accounted for those variations, the DTS edition came across as smoother and better integrated, and it also seemed more dynamic and hefty. When taken on its own, the Dolby mix still sounded fine, but when I directly compared the two, it was a little anemic. I definitely preferred the DTS track between the pair.

So far the Superbit version of The One demonstrated stronger picture and sound performance when compared to the original 2002 release. However, the latter wins when we examine its supplements. The 2002 special edition included a lot of fairly good extras, so I gave it a ďBĒ for those features. Like most Superbit releases, this one comes with nothing.

As a movie, chalk up The One as a disappointment. Despite a clever and interesting take on some sci-fi staples, the movie comes across as little more than another aggressively bland and derivative piece of work. From Jet Liís flat acting to the tired incorporation of overused visual and sonic techniques, the film offers little to make it entertaining.

As a DVD, the Superbit version of The One presents the film in its strongest incarnation when I examined picture and audio. Neither blew away the old disc, but both demonstrated improvements. However, this came at the loss of some generally positive supplements, none of which appeared here. If that doesnít matter to you, then go with the Superbit The One, as it will give you the best looking and sounding edition of the movie. If youíre more interested in extras, though, I think the old disc is your best bet. It presents the movie almost as well, comes with some nice materials, and costs $7 less to boot.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.8 Stars Number of Votes: 10
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