The One

Bomb Rating: 

It's the sort of writing one might expect from an elementary school play, not a feature film.

I guess I'll just keep repeating this until someone listens (or until I die, whichever comes first): When I watch a martial arts film, I'd like to see the actual martial arts. This means, in a nutshell, that the director should position his camera at a reasonable distance from the combatants, let them fight, and not move the camera a whole lot. If the camera does move, it should only shift as the combatants move. Furthermore, I recommend leaving a nice space between the top of the screen and the fighters' heads and between the sides of the screen and the fighters' flailing arms and legs, so that in case they move faster than the cameraman can move, they don't wander outside the frame until we can no longer see -- but can only hear -- the fight.

Naturally, director James Wong, who has something or other to do with the "X-Files," doesn't understand this. Here, he has Jet Li as his main star and not only does he obscure the action by self-indulgently shaking the camera around, he incorporates ridiculous, Matrix-like special effects to make Li's martial arts, according to Wong and his geek friends, "cooler." Why pay Jet Li the big bucks when the movie's really about you, James?

You're a director and you have Jet Li to do your martial arts and you employ special effects to enhance them? There's your X-file; it defies all logic. The justification for this is that Yulaw (Li) is from an alternate universe within the multi-verse and he's come to kill the last version of himself, a cop named Gabe (Li). As he kills different versions of himself (also played by Li) in different universes, Yulaw grows so incredibly strong and fast that he can kick a guy into the air, go stand in line at the DMV, and get back in time to kick the guy again before he hits the ground. Yulaw can dodge bullets and run fifty miles an hour. In other words, he's no Steve Austin.

In Gabe's world, he's married to T.K. (Carla Gugino), who looks like she's been on a liquid diet since "Spy Kids." Yulaw has been followed through the multi-verse by two cops, Funsch (Jason Stratham) and Roedecker (Delroy Lindo), neither of whom can shoot worth a damn. They have these cool, futuristic guns and I don't think they ever hit anything. Not once. And while Li's English is far from perfect, his dialog would be bad in any language -- it's the sort of writing one might expect from an elementary school play, not a feature film.

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