ninth symphony films - movie reviews

THE ONE (2001)

DIRECTOR  -  james wong

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  sci-fi

LENGTH  -  87 minutes

RELEASED  -  2 november 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  columbia pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  the one

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $49,000,000
the one - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from ali at

buy the dvd from ali at

a sheriff's deputy fights an alternate universe version of himself.

many characters have the last names of movie directors: woo, scott, yates, siegel, besson...


picture from the one

picture from the one

picture from the one


two out of four possible stars

Jet Li is well on his way to becoming a high priced action movie star in the United States. Already a well-known name in Asian countries, Li has had some early success with his first forays into American films such as Romeo Must Die and Kiss of The Dragon. Though his films have not always wowed the critics, his efforts have continuously pleased his fans. And The One is no exception. Fans of Jet Li will be pleased with his latest effort, even if it’s not the most original film in which he’s been involved.

The most important elements of Li’s action films are the fight sequences. Ninety percent of the reason his fans flock to his films is the unique martial arts scenes that the usually weak plot tries to string together. The story is really just an excuse to get Li around a couple of adversaries who will doubtlessly attempt to kill him. And in The One, although the plot actually comes to the forefront a few times, the people in this film are much more at ease when they are involved in some type of fight sequence rather than when they have to utter some story related dialogue.

In addition to the standard fight scenes, the special effects in the film are rather good. The film involves a sheriff's deputy (played by Li) who fights an alternate universe version of himself who grows stronger with each alternate self he kills. Each time Li or one of the other characters is transported to a different alternate universe, the digital tricks used to simulate the travel are not visually stunning, but serve the film very well in any case. Being that the film has a science fiction related plot, viewers can appreciate the effort placed on the special effects. It’s not often that a film so focused on martial arts puts a great deal of effort into ancillary elements of filmmaking.

And although the script for the film is probably the weakest part, it still can be considered appropriate for the genre. It’s probably too much to expect that the script would be a standout component of the film, so the fact that it’s not reprehensible, while not a mark in its favor, is still respectable. The advent of what could be officially termed, “Lame Action Movie Dialogue,” shows its ugly face in more than one scene, but usually the unintelligent mutterings of one character or another are followed by some interesting eye candy or digital magic. It should be said though that even though this film includes added elements (like digital effects and a science fiction story) that aren’t a standard part of martial arts films, The One isn’t better than Li’s earlier box office triumph, Romeo Must Die.

But it is much more interesting than the slightly lackluster Kiss of the Dragon. That film suffered most from a lack of appreciable chemistry between its stars, and that is where The One is better. Playing Li’s wife (in one of the alternate realities), Carla Gugino doesn’t have the most intelligent dialogue to say, but her relationship with Li’s character is very believable. And as one of the policemen chasing the evil character Jet Li plays (he has multiple roles in the film), Delroy Lindo does remarkably well with his own scenes of Lame Action Movie Dialogue. Though his character seems to disappear too often during the course of the movie, his appearance in the film is an enjoyable one.

Something that doesn’t work as well though is the soundtrack. Filled with pumping metal tunes and a few rap songs, the music in this film actually overtakes the film’s story at times. One would think that the action sequences would be enhanced by such music (heavy metal music and action films go hand in hand, right?), but an orchestral score might have worked better for this movie, as the songs sometimes feel out of place. Like they were hastily chosen by the producers in order to create a soundtrack that would fly off the shelves.

The fact that this film’s story is more than a tad far-fetched really shouldn’t matter to its target audience. As a martial arts film, The One succeeds with fast paced and typical scenes which audience members will expect to see. Jet Li is improving in his ability to express himself convincingly in English and judging from this and past films, it seems his films will only get better. If additional effort in dialogue was put into the mix, the potential for Li’s films could be astronomical, monetarily speaking. As it stands currently, Li will be most respected by his fans for this effort. He might gain a few additional viewers, but at the moment doesn’t have the strength to move into a wide mainstream audience.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

content © 2000 - - ninth symphony films - photographs © columbia pictures 2001
home | archive | ratings | links | photographs | about | contact