- The Washington Times - Friday, November 2, 2001

"The One" is unlikely to transform Hong Kong martial-arts transplant Jet Li into a major American attraction. I have begun to think of Jet Li as Jet Lag, in part because his Johnny-come-lately claims on the prowess associated with Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan look flimsy on the face of things.

Mr. Li seems to be at his snazziest when striking poses in freeze frames. I detect nothing persuasively jet-propelled in his movements. Maybe Piper Cub Li would be a more appropriate alias. Mr. Li's domestic sponsor is the demolition-happy producer Joel Silver, who launched him as a villainous virtuoso in "Lethal Weapon 4." That identity seems to be more congenial.
He enters "The One" as a villain on the rampage. Called Yulaw, evidently in homage to his obvious lawlessness, this scourge sabotages a police mission at a prison that seems to belong to a time frame far in the future, since we're informed in the prologue that 123 parallel universes have been isolated and are vigilantly patrolled by members of a multiverse constabulary, which has the authority to impose severe penalties on unauthorized travel.
Yulaw, it transpires, has been flitting all over the multiverse, murdering counterparts in order to acquire their energy and become superhuman. So the illusion that he fights with the strength of 10 men is way off.
We encounter him at the point where he can smugly challenge civilized society with the strength of 121 men. All that remains is a counterpart named Gabe, a straight-arrow policeman with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.
Multiverse travel is facilitated, in a manner of speaking, through wormholes that seem to reduce the body to ashen molecules before they can be reconstituted in a parallel environment. It's a rough way of getting around, one gathers. Nevertheless, Yulaw seems to have thrived on it and pursues Gabe with fiendish pleasure, shooting up an MRI lab in the process.
The villain is pursued by a set of futuristic cops played by Delroy Lindo and Jason Statham. Their names arguably are the wittiest touch in the movie: Roedecker and Funsch, respectively. What a wonderful investment firm was lost when they decided to become lawmen.
Mr. Li isn't the only cast member who gets to double up. Carla Gugino of "Spy Kids," evidently not in a choosy mood when "The One" came along, plays a tramp associated with Yulaw and Gabe's loyal spouse, T.K.
Mr. Lindo gets an L.A. double far removed from his crime-busting profession. For some reason, Mr. Statham has to do a solo act, perhaps because he's the only cast member who possesses some rough-and-ready credibility.
Although we're supposed to fret about Gabe because he might became the One if he should defeat Yulaw, and thereby represent an identical threat to multiverse society, the filmmakers thoughtfully contrive a kind of double happy ending.


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