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Jet Li has recently shot into the big time with a couple of Hollywood blockbusters, but even before those he was also well known, starring in movies such as the ‘Once Upon a Time’ trilogy and other foreign martial arts films. However, it was only a matter of time before he moved onto American movies, and first became famous for his role in Lethal Weapon 4. Since then he has gone on to play the lead in several other movies. The One is his most recent effort, and this is the review of the region two DVD.

One, The
Film
Imagine that there are over one hundred and twenty parallel universes, and in each one a version of you exists. Well that’s the idea that is introduced in the credits to this movie. The film is set in the future, where transporting between these universes is possible. This may sound intriguing, but also has its disadvantages. Criminals can use this possibility to their advantage and travel between the parallel universes, killing their counterparts. The movie begins by introducing us to Yulaw Lawless (Jet Li), a power-hungry, violent criminal, who has murdered one hundred and twenty three different versions of himself, and only has one more to kill before he becomes ‘The One’. The energy of every victim that dies is shared between the remaining counterparts in each of their respective universes. This means that Yulaw only has one more universe to visit before he become the most powerful entity, and ultimately ‘The One’. To stop this happening, a Multiverse Security Force has been set up to police universe hopping and any potential crimes that may occur because of it. Hot on Yulaw's heels are Multiverse security officers Roedecker (Delroy Lindo) and Funsch (Jason Statham), who follow his every move. Their pursuit of Yulaw proves to be fruitless until his last but one murder, when they manage to arrest him. He is taken back to his home dimension to stand trial, where careful planning sees the criminal escape with the aim of killing his last victim.

That victim is Gabriel Law (Jet Li), a youthful police officer, who inexplicably keeps getting stronger. One night while escorting a criminal from a secure jail, he stumbles across Yulaw, who is trying to kill him. Fortunately for Gabriel he is rescued by Roedecker, but he is left suitably confused by the whole event. As the movie progresses, Gabriel learns of the relevance of Yulaw’s arrival and must do all he can to protect himself. Added to the equation is Gabriel’s partner, Massie Walsh (Carla Gugino), who cannot understand the changes that are happening to Gabriel and knows nothing about the danger to both their lives.

This is my second viewing of ‘The One’ which I originally saw in the cinema. I left the cinema feeling hugely disappointed, as I had been expecting an all action Jet Li movie with a sci-fi twist. However the movie is modelled largely around The Matrix, with slow ‘bullet time’ action shots bundled throughout. This means that the action skills of Jet Li are not fully utilised and are constantly touched up with spectacular special effects. It is only really towards the end of the movie that we get to see a decent fight scene, which has not been altered immensely. By the second viewing my expectations had been lowered and I found myself enjoying the film considerably more. The movie may be quite short (around 85 minutes), but from the first moment through to the end credits, it is a action feast which should keep even the most cynical action junkie content. When used, the special effects can be quite spectacular with characters performing what are probably some of the most active stunts ever seen. Bizarre effects can often stand out like a sore thumb (The Mummy Returns being a prime example), but the creators of this movie seem to have made a considerable amount of effort to ensure that they don’t fall into that trap.  

One, The
Jet Li has taken a lot of critism for his lack of acting skills in English speaking movies, which is unfair considering that it is not his first language. With each Hollywood movie that he stars in, his English and mannerisms seem to be improving. The same cannot be said for Jason Statham, who is very disappointing and wooden in his role. He doesn’t seem convincing when delivering his lines, and his constant grimacing becomes wearing after about ten minutes. It seemed as if he was making too much effort to be the hard-man, and ended up overacting in the process. The One is the sort of film which should grow on you after multiple viewings. It is considerably easy to watch, with very little thinking power needed once you have understood the premise. There are plenty of action setpieces which allow the film to fly by, and the plot is interesting enough to keep your attention even when Jet Li takes a breather. Jet Li is probably one of the hottest action stars in Hollywood at the moment, and it is easy to see why from this film. The One is a typical Saturday night no-brainer action movie!

Video
Columbia Tristar have provided another first class transfer with this disc. The movie is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is also anamorphic. As it is relatively new you would expect the print to be clean, and this is indeed the case, with no visible sign of damage. Colour levels are dealt with efficiently, with energetic colours throughout, but when duller colours are needed they are portrayed accurately. Black levels are also solid, which can be seen in the images accompanying this review, and are particularly evident towards the end of the movie. MPEG artefacts are non-existent and the overall image is razor sharp. The level of detail displayed is impressive, with even the smallest hair being noticeable on the actors’ faces.  There is a small amount of grain which probably detracts from this being a reference quality transfer, but it is pretty close. I have seen the transfer for the region one release, and this is every bit as good. Another proficient effort from Columbia Tristar.

Audio
What is evident from the very first minute of this soundtrack is that it’s not for the faint hearted! The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack provided is one of the most engrossing tracks that I have had the pleasure of listening to recently. The rears are used at every opportunity, which may sound like overkill, but believe me it works effectively here. A lot of the action scenes have so much going on (gun fire, car chases etc.), that a quieter track may have spoilt such moments. Audio sync was spot-on throughout, with dialogue also being accurately portrayed through the centre speakers. Occasionally the musical score was also reverted to the rear speakers, which was an effective addition. Also included is a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and six different subtitles.

One, The
Extras
Upon selecting the extras section, the first choice I came across was a director’s and crew commentary. There are four commentators involved, including director James Wong. It was hard to tell who was speaking throughout the commentary, with some people just being too quiet. It starts off with James Wong talking about the prologue and why it was added. Originally it wasn’t going to be included, but in the end it was chosen because they didn’t want to confuse audiences early on in the movie. James Wong is probably the best commentator and gives the most useful information. He speaks the most and seems to be in control of the chat. Due to the nature of the movie, this is a very technical sided commentary with little coverage of the crew’s experiences in the movie, and it tends to focus more on how various scenes were shot.

Where this release excels is in the featurettes/documentaries. The first one is called Jet Li is ‘The One’. This documentary focuses on Jet, with many of his fellow actors complimenting his professionalism and attitude. They all have very good things to say about him and he seems to have a new best friend in Jason Statham, who says that Jet doesn’t seem to have an ego.  We are also treated to ‘behind the scenes’ footage with lots of action shots being shown. I found it interested to learn that the ‘Rock’ from WWF wrestling was apparently the tipped to play the lead in this film, but in the end they chose Jet Li, which was a good decision in my opinion. This documentary runs for just over thirteen minutes. The next documentary is called Multiverses create ‘The One’. It starts with the director and Jet Li talking about the differences between Hong Kong movies and American ones. We also get shown a lot of the action scenes, be they rough footage or the final cut. We get to see some of the training that the actors went through too.  This is a documentary which action fans will love. It focuses on particular scenes, and shows you how they were originally filmed and then how the special effects were added. The third documentary on this disc is called About Face – Glen Morgan. This is another technical documentary with more fight scenes, and it should make you appreciate how much thought and effort went into all the these scenes. This documentary lasts for just under six minutes in total. Also included is a brief featurette called The Many Faces of Jet Li. This is a short feature on the different characters that Jet Li had to play in the movie. It only lasts just over two minutes, but it is an amusing couple of minutes which shows the fun side of Jet Li.

One, The
Theatrical trailers are also included on this disc. There are five altogether, including The One, The Sixth Sense, A Knight’s Tale, Hollow Man and The Thirteenth Floor. I only watched the trailer for this movie which runs for just over two minutes and is pretty frantic and entertaining. If you enjoy filmographies then you will be glad to hear that one is included with this release. You can take a look at the careers of James Wong (Director), Jet Li, Carla Gugino, Jason Statham and Delroy Lindo. Finally the last extra contained on the disc is an animatic comparison. This was one of my favourite extras because it was quite funny and tacky. The screen is split into two, with the top half showing the final cut of a scene, while the bottom shows dolls and computer generated images acting out the same scene. It only lasts for just over a minute but it should keep you amused.

Overall
The One sure does pack a heavyweight punch, with Jet Li proving that he is a force to be reckoned with. If you like your action movies frantic and fast-paced then you won’t be disappointed by this one. A first class transfer, along with a lively soundtrack, ensures that fans of the movie can enjoy it in the comfort of their own home. Columbia Tristar have also provided an impressive catalogue of extras, with the featurettes standing out as the highlight of the disc. Jet Li continues his assault on Hollywood with this release, which is probably his best effort to date and is an easy DVD to recommend.


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