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Double jeopardy
Jul 10, 2005 01:48 AM 1483 Views
(Updated Jul 10, 2005 01:48 AM)





If time-travelling antics leave you baffled, then you be well advised to steer clear of The One. This high-falutin, futuristic sci-fi thriller, headlining martial arts star Jet Li, posits the existence of no less than 124 parallel universes. We exist in each of these dimensions in different guises - a policeman in one, a criminal in another - and travel between universes is strictly governed by the Multiverse Bureau of Investigation. After all, think how traumatic it would be to come face-to-face with your identical twin.

Agents Roedecker (Delroy Lindo) and Funsch (Jason Statham) are enlisted to track down villainous Yulaw (Li), who has murdered 122 of his likenesses across the various galaxies.

With each killing, Yulaw has increased in power and strength, making him that much more difficult to apprehend. He needs to murder just one more doppelganger - mild-mannered cop Gabriel - to achieve ultimate power and become The One.

Unfortunately for Yulaw, Gabriel is somehow spiritually linked to his dastardly alter-ego, and is gaining in strength at the same time. He is also an expert with martial arts, and should prove a worthy adversary for the dimension-hopping madman.

However, Gabriel does have one weakness, his wife TK, and she may be the Achilles Heel to ensure his downfall.

Screenwriters Glen Morgan and James Wong, who penned the excellent teen thriller Final Destination and several memorable episodes of The X-Files, muddle the central premise. They fail to make any sense of Yulaw's motives for his killing spree, and completely abandon logic when it suits them.

Li's emotional range is depressingly narrow and he fails to make much distinction between Yulaw and Gabriel, other than to frown constantly as the villain, and smile as the good guy. He still isnt entirely comfortable with English dialogue, and frequently it appears as if he has learnt lines phonetically. He rarely reacts to anything he is saying.

Lindo chews scenery and Statham is so excruciatingly bad, every one of his lines gets an unintentional laugh. His American accent is the best running gag I've seen all year.

Action scenes are slickly choreographed, but we've seen it all before, and on several occasions, you catch glimpses of Li's stand-in (who looks markedly different to the lead star), shattering any illusion that the actor is fighting a double of himself.

The climactic battle in a factory (cue the steam and flames) fails to get the adrenaline pumping. If Morgan and Wong are correct, and there are 124 parallel universes, then watching their film could be an extremely perilous business.

After all, by watching The One, you could be sharing all that post-screening depression and misery with your 123 other selves. On your conscience be it!

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