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In a stunning dual role, international action star Jet Li portrays Gabriel Yulaw, a police officer confronted with a sinister form of himself escaped from an advanced, parallel universe and intent onkilling Gabriel. His alter ego's hunt culminates in a fateful battle between good and evil that changes Gabriel's perception of reality and forces him to examine the evil hidden within himself. The One features riveting martial arts and innovative special effects.
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Jet Li plays two versions of the same character - one evil, one good. The story's premise is that life essence is shared between every parallel version of an individual across 125 parallel universes - and killing one of those 125 redistributes his life force amongst the remaining individuals. The evil Yulaw, with the knowledge of how to hop between realities, has succeeded in killing all but one parallel version of himself - Gabe Law. Gabe is unaware of the existence of parallel universes, until confronted and nearly killed by Yulaw.
Jet Li performs well in both of the roles, as the hardened criminal Yulaw and the likeable police officer Gabe. Several of the supporting roles are well acted, including Gabe's cop buddies and wife TK. Other roles, such as the gritty multi-verse cops played by Jason Statham and Delroy Lindo, are a bit overacted and cheesy.
With the power of 125 individuals split between the two of them, both Yulaw and Gabe are capable of superhuman feats of strength and speed. This gives the film the liberty to take the martial arts further than typical movies in the genre, leading to some truly jaw-dropping bad-ass action scenes. Despite The One's age, many of the effects still look convincing, particularly those where the world slows to a crawl around a super-accelerated Li, who dances around his opponents and smashes them out of the air (those that have seen the Seth Rogen "Green Hornet" film will recognize that Kato's action scenes were blatantly ripped off of "The One"). Occasionally there are obvious CG elements, and any enthusiast of martial arts will recognize repeated wire stunts, but they are much more excusable when the character has superhuman powers.
Overall, the film is a bit cheesy, but hard-hitting and very endearing. It's hard not to like Li in his role as the good-natured Gabe, and fun to watch his progression as he learns the extent of the powers he has gained thanks to Yulaw's meddling. Not everyone will like The One, but those that do should greatly enjoy it.