THE ONE ($28) is one heck of a fun popcorn movie that combines an interesting science fiction premise with Hong Kong style martial arts action and terrific special effects. Not only that, THE ONE also combines the talents of Hong Kong cinemaís Jet Li with those of James Wong and Glen Morgan, whoíve had their hands in cool stuff like THE X-FILES TV series and the under appreciated genre flick FINAL DESTINATION. Those who enjoy escapist entertainment that that they can lose themselves in, will find that THE ONE offers rapid-fire pacing that bounces from one action sequence to the next, while sweetening the whole deal with plenty of high tech eye candy.
The plot of THE ONE proceeds from the notion that there is more than one universe, a multiverse if you will, comprised of alternate realities. In some of these alternate universes the technology exists that can bridge these different realities and allow individuals to travel between universes. Jet Li stars in THE ONE as Yulaw, a criminal who has been illegally traveling between universes and killing off his counterparts that are native to those particular universes. It seems that Yulaw has discovered that he and his counterparts are somehow interconnected, and by killing off the others their energies are redistributed amongst the remaining versions of himself. After killing 123 of his counterparts Yulaw has become incredibly strong, incredibly fast and nearly indestructible. With a single counterpart remaining, Yulaw manages to escape from the multiverseís equivalent of law enforcement and makes his way to the universe containing the only individual that is keeping him from becoming The One. However, Yulaw finds dispatching his final counterpart more of a challenge than he ever expected.
Although English isnít Jet Liís native tongue, he acquits himself quite well in this American movie. He has mastered the language well enough to be convincing in his two primary roles- Yulaw, the obsessed criminal, and Gabe Law, the duty bound police officer and loving husband. While many actors have pulled off multiple roles in films before, THE ONE adds a technical complexity of having Jet Li fight against himself in a very convincing manner. Although aided by digital effects, different camera angles and editing, Li has to perform both sides of the fight and maintain the different fighting styles of both characters. In addition to leading man Jet Li, THE ONE features a solid supporting cast that includes Carla Gugino, Delroy Lindo, Jason Statham and James Morrison.
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made THE ONE available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for 16:9 displays. A full screen presentation is available on a separate layer of the DVD, but this review will address the wide screen version of the film. Like any other brand new movie coming out of Columbia TriStar, THE ONE looks great on DVD. The image is very sharp and richly detailed, with only a miniscule amount of grain showing up in a couple of places. Colors are vibrant and well saturated, with absolutely no signs of noise or smearing. The filmís cinematography makes use of colored lighting to create atmosphere, but the picture is always rock solid. Additionally, flesh tones are always rendered in a completely natural manner. Blacks are deep and velvety, contrast is quite smooth and there is plenty of shadow detail in the darker sequences. Digital compression artifacts are never problematic during the presentation.
As one should expect from any good science fiction/action movie, THE ONE features a kick-ass Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. The mix is very aggressive and highly active throughout the course of the film. Sound effects swirl, bounce, ping-pong and generally draw the viewer into the high-octane movie experience. The rear channels are utilized exceedingly well, giving all the surround junkies out there a satisfying fix. Dialogue reproduction is very clean and never buried under the other sonic elements. The bass channel is deep, percussive and lends genuine weight to the filmís sound effects. Music is well integrated into the mix, with both the filmís score and incidental music sounding full bodied. A French Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai subtitles.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVDís interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a nice complement of supplemental materials. THE ONE includes an audio commentary with co-writer/director James Wong, production designer David Snyder, cinematographer Robert McLachlan and editor James Coblentz. This is an interesting commentary track, which offers a good deal of behind-the-scenes detail pertaining to the technical aspects of the production. Also included on the DVD are four featurettes. Jet Li Is The One runs thirteen minutes and is a fairly standard behind-the-scenes featurette that includes movie clips and interviews with the cast & crew. Clocking in at eighteen minutes is Multiverses Create The One, which focuses on the technical challenges of the films stunts and special effects work. Running about five minutes is About Face, which explores the difficulties of having Jet Li fight against himself in the filmís climatic martial arts sequences and the techniques employed to produce two copies of the actor on screen at the same time. The Many Faces Of Jet Li runs about two minutes and looks at the various guises that actor takes on to play his characterís numerous counterparts. The DVD also features a theatrical trailer, cast & crew filmographies and an Animatronic Comparison for one of the filmís key special effects sequences.
THE ONE is pure popcorn entertainment at it best, making this one heck of a fun movie. If you are looking for something that is both entertaining and slick to feed your home theater system, you really canít go wrong with a copy of THE ONE. The audio and video quality of the disc is first class all the way, making this a disc youíll want to show to you friends when they happen by and ask whatís new and cool on DVD.
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