ⓘ The One (2001 film)

The One (2001 film)

ⓘ The One (2001 film)

The One is a 2001 American science fiction superhero action film directed by James Wong, written by Wong and Glen Morgan, and starring Jet Li, Carla Gugino, Delroy Lindo, and Jason Statham. The film was released in the United States by New Line Cinema on November 2, 2001, and received mixed critical reviews.

The film deals with the concept of multiverses and interdimensional travel, following a rogue police officer Li who travels to parallel realities in order to kill other versions of himself to become a mythical super-being known as "The One". Li plays a dual role as two separate versions of himself.


1. Plot

Gabriel Yulaw Jet Li, once an agent of the Multiverse Authority MVA, an agency that polices interdimensional travel via wormholes, seeks to hunt down all variations of himself in alternate universes. By killing all 124 of his other selves becoming the last version and absorbing their life energies, Yulaw believes he will become a godlike being called "The One". After killing Lawless, the 123rd variation of himself in the Anubis universe, Yulaw is soon captured by MVA agents Rodecker Delroy Lindo and Funsch Jason Statham and taken back to MVA headquarters in the Alpha universe. During a trial where hes sentenced to life in the Stygian penal colony in the Hades universe, Yulaw manages to escape and teleports to the Charis universe to hunt the last variation of himself.

The last known variation, Gabriel Gabe Law, works in the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department. For two years he has been experiencing increases in strength, speed, and mental ability, but neither he nor his wife, T.K. Law Carla Gugino, can understand why. While transporting a prisoner for the department, Gabe "feels" Yulaws presence just before he attempts to kill Gabe. Yulaw escapes, but is followed by Gabe, who inhumanly leaps over a very high wall. Landing on the other side, Gabe is shot and wounded by Yulaw. As Yulaw is about to finish him off, hes interrupted by Rodecker and Funsch.

Gabe realizes that Yulaw is identical to him in every way. Unfamiliar with the interdimensional travel concept, he finds Yulaws appearance shocking. After checking into the hospital, Gabe is ambushed by Yulaw, which Rodecker and Funsch again foil. Yulaw deters them from shooting him because if he is killed, then Gabe would then be left as the One. Dressed alike and identical to each other, Gabe and Yulaws battle confuses Gabes police colleagues. Both Gabe and Yulaw manage to escape the hospital.

Rodecker is faced with a dilemma: they have to capture Yulaw, but they cannot kill him or allow Gabe to be killed because whoever survives will become the One, which could potentially have catastrophic damage to the multiverse. Funsch insists that Yulaw, as the instigator, must be dealt with in a more aggressive manner. Rodecker makes a fateful decision to "go way off procedure" and they both split up. Rodecker pursues and fights Yulaw and is killed when Yulaw breaks his neck. Funsch catches up with Gabe and explains the multiverse and Gabes abilities to him. Yulaw hides in Gabes residence where T.K., believing him to be Gabe, attempts to protect him, but she senses that he is not her husband. Gabe arrives, only to have Yulaw force him to watch while he kills her. Funsch finds Gabe and they team up to find Yulaw at the next wormhole.

Gabe and Funsch arrive at an industrial plant, where they encounter and fight Yulaw. While Funsch is easily defeated, the final battle between Gabe and Yulaw takes place. The two fight evenly for a moment, but with Yulaw being more superior than Gabe, Yulaw quickly overpowers and nearly defeats Gabe. Remembering his own martial arts form, Gabe uses his own abilities, gains the upper hand and wins. Gabe gets caught in the wormhole along with Yulaw and Funsch as they return to the MVA headquarters. Yulaw is transported immediately to the Hades universe after a failed attempt to switch places with Gabe. The MVA then prepares to send Gabe back to his own universe where he will be arrested and put in prison for the crimes Yulaw committed. Recalling an earlier conversation with Gabe, Funsch sends him to a different universe where Gabe can have a normal life again, beginning with when he first met T.K.

Meanwhile, Yulaw, now in the Stygian penal colony, declares he will still become the One. The camera pulls back showing Yulaw standing at the top of a ziggurat, battling dozens of men.


2. Cast

  • Harriet Sansom Harris as Nurse Besson
  • James Morrison as Officer Bobby Aldrich and A World Inmate #1
  • Richard Steinmetz as Officer DAntoni
  • Dean Norris as Sgt. Siegel
  • Carla Gugino as T.K. Law / Massie Walsh
  • Steve Rankin as MVA Supervisor
  • Delroy Lindo as MVA Agent Harry Rodecker / Gas Station Attendant
  • Jet Li as Gabriel "Gabe" Law / Gabriel Yulaw / Lawless
  • Dylan Bruno as Officer Yates
  • Cynthia Pinot as Girl With Briefcase
  • Doug Savant as Cop uncredited
  • Tucker Smallwood as Prison Warden
  • Jason Statham as MVA Agent Evan Funsch
  • Archie Kao as Woo

3. Production

Originally the film was to have starred with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, before Li assumed the lead role.

The hospital scenes were filmed at the North Hollywood Medical Center.

The documentary Jet Li is The One on the special features section on the DVD explains that both Gabriel Yulaw and "Gabe" Law use martial arts that represent their personalities. Yulaw uses Xingyiquan The Shape-Will Fist, characterized by aggressive linear movements, while Gabe uses Baguazhang The Eight Trigram Palms which uses subtle, circular movements. These martial arts are confirmed by their own personalities as Yulaw is very direct, not caring whom he hurts, while Gabe believes life goes in a circle, perfectly balanced.


4. Background information

As part of the promotion for the movie, there was an official website for the fictional Multiverse Authority called the "MVA Mainframe". Although the site is now defunct, it provided detailed background material on the storyline and some of the characters, including some that were not in the film.


5. Soundtrack

The score was composed by Trevor Rabin and was released on December 11, 2001, but no soundtrack album was released. Noted songs in the film were Drowning Pools Bodies and Sinner. Down with the Sickness by the band Disturbed, Awake by Godsmack, Train of Dreams by Jesse Dayton and two tracks by Papa Roach of Blood Brothers and Last Resort.


6. Reception

The One grossed $19.112.404 an average of $6.604 per screen in its opening weekend in North America, opening at #2, and eventually grossed $43.905.746. In other territories, the film grossed $28.783.380, making for a worldwide total of $72.689.126.


6.1. Reception Critical response

The film received mostly negative reviews. Based on 86 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes as of August 2019, 14% of critics have given the film a positive review, with an average rating of 3.94/10. The sites critics consensus reads, The One plays more like a video game than a movie and borrows freely from other, better sci-fi actioners, burying Jet Lis spectacular talents under heaps of editing and special effects." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 25 out of 100 based on reviews from 21 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "B" on scale of A to F.

Roger Ebert gave the film 1.5 out of 4 stars, calling it "brainless high-tech action without interesting dialogue, characters, motivation or texture." Robert Koehler of Variety wrote: "The combo of cheesy effects and martial arts choreographer Cory Yuens unimaginative staging results in something thats martial artless."

Loren King of the Chicago Tribune gave a favorable review quoting that the movie delivered "the high-octane sequences starring martial-arts expert Jet Li with precision and well-crafted pace." Giving a score of 3 out of 4. Sean Axmaker of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer also gave a favourable review noting that James Wong "manage to create a fun, inventive, mischievously tongue-in-cheek showcase" giving a B- score.


7. Home media

The home video release of The One took place on August 19, 2002. The DVD release contained audio commentary, interviews with James Wong, Jet Li and some more. Almar Haflidason of the BBC reviewed the DVD release giving a score of 4 out of 5.

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