[box cover]

The One

One of the smartest things about The Terminator is how James Cameron understood that Arnold Schwarzenegger is more of a prop than actor. After all, nothing about the hulking Ah-nold is ordinary, and with a limited acting range he makes a better cyborg than an Everyman. It's a principle that should be followed by anyone who makes action films, and it's also why The One is so inane. The premise of this 2001 Jet Li vehicle is that there are multiple universes in the galaxy, and in each slightly different things occur (for instance, in one Al Gore is president). However, a Mulitverse policeman named Yulaw (Li) has discovered that if you kill your likeness in one universe, all other versions of you actually become more powerful. Thus, Yulaw becomes a master criminal who murders his other selves in the hopes of becoming God, although such a plan is also rumored to destroy the very fabric of time. Down to just two personas, a race begins to stop Yulaw from killing nice policeman Gabe (Li again), with Mulitverse cops Roedecker (Delroy Lindo) and Funsch (Jason Statham) in hot pursuit. And of course, it all leads up to a sequence where Jet Li will fight himself and kick his own ass. The plot of The One is as silly and paper-thin as it sounds, with plenty of moments where the characters have to reiterate bad techno-babble. In addition, the score offers deflating, out-of-context pop music, and it's disappointing to see how much the film relies on CGI for the action scenes, given Li's natural talent. But what sinks The One is that Jet Li — like virtually all action stars — has a limited acting range, and he's asked to carry the weight of at least three roles. Really, who wants Li to be a normal guy? The fact is that every minute he has to act sensitive with his soulmate in every universe (Carla Gugino), he's missing valuable hiney-kicking time. Columbia TriStar's DVD presents the film in both anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and pan-and-scan transfers, with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. Features include a commentary with director James Wong, cinematographer Robert McLachlan, production designer David Snyder, and editor Jim Coblentz, four featurettes, an animatic comparison, a theatrical trailer, and talent files. Keep-case.
—DSH



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