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One, The (Special Edition) (2001) Print E-mail
Thursday, 02 April 2009
Image"The One" is one of Jet Li's blockbuster hits among his plethora of Chinese mainstream martial arts films.  It is not one of his best films, but the concept is pretty original and the film moves at a decent pace.  The film faired okay at the box office, grossing about $45 million.  While it fell short of the creation budget, home video sales pushed it along nicely.

The film comes from creators James Wong and Glen Morgan.  The three of us graduated from the same Los Angeles film school, and I have had the pleasure of working on their material.  The writing/directing team began with a few episodes of the hit television series, "The X-Files."  They made their way into feature films with the hit, "Final Destination."  Since then they have worked on "Final Destination 3," "Willard" and a variety of television episodes.

"The One" follows Yulaw, an ex-multi-verse agent, as he travels from universe to universe, murdering himself.  Confused?  Let's backtrack.  In this reality, there are several universes, not just one universe.  In fact, there are 125 of them.  Scientists have figured out how to predict wormholes and travel from universe to universe.  To police travel between universes, the MVA was created.  Yulaw was forced to defend himself against himself in one of the universes.  When he killed himself, he felt part of the other him's life energy transfer to him.  From then on he has traveled to various universes to murder himself and take their life energy.  The life energy divides among the rest of the "laws."  They are all connected by a string of energy and as the string gets shorter, the survivors have increased intelligence, strength and speed.

Now Yulaw and Gabe Law are the last two "laws."  Two multiverse agents follow Yulaw to the last universe to stop him from killing Gabe.  Balance must be preserved.  If Gabe dies, then Yulaw must die as well, and vice-versa. 

The film is fairly predictable once you know the premise.  Still, it is entertaining.  Carla Gugino doesn't hurt the film either.

The video transfer of "The One" to Blu-ray is another adequate transfer, but not spectacular.  The black levels are strong, with no evidence of crushing in the deep blacks.  Unfortunately, shadow delineation is not up to par.  Details and textures are not exactly superb, but they are far better than those present on the standard DVD.  The colors are a bit drab.  Overall they are pushed to yellow and blue.  Fleshtoens fluctuate from scene to scene, and is probably the most annoying aspect of the transfer.  The image does not contain a lot of depth due to the drained color and lack of shadow delineation.  The film grain is minimal.  The opening sequence contains the most grain, and worried my at first.  However, it tames after the opening.  There is no evidence of edge enhancement, compression artifacting or digital noise reduction.  The 1080p Blu-ray transfer brings out the cheesy nature of the set construction and some of the face painting effects during the Li-versus-Li fight sequence.  Still, the Blu-ray offers a great upgrade. The audio quality of this Blu-ray disc is fantastic.  It has probably the biggest leap in quality from the standard Dolby Digital track on the DVD to the Dolby TrueHD track on the Blu-ray.  Right from the start the surround channels are engaging.  The use of the surround channels continues throughout the film.  The power of the rear channels is almost overpowering, but not quite, as opposed to the strength of the surrounds in "The Fast and the Furious."  There is not much to the dynamic range.  It is fairly constant in the upper range.  The frequency response is good.  The LFE channel's low-frequency extension is deep.  However, there are points in the film in which I felt more bass could have been used.  The dialogue is problematic at times.  Some of the dialogue lines are lost among the sound effects.  The balance of the mix is a bit off, but that is not the fault of the Blu-ray transfer.  There are some demo moments in the audio track.

The Blu-ray contains the same special features on the standard DVD release.  All remain in standard definition.  First, there is a director and crew commentary track.  This track is interesting to me, as I have had experience with James Wong and the crew.  However, I'm not sure it would be interesting to most film fans.  There are a handful of featurettes.  "Jet Li is 'The One'" is a making-of featurette.  "Multiverses Create 'The One'" is a choreography segment.  "About Face" and "The Many Faces of Jet Li" are brief special effects featurettes.  Lastly, there is an Animatic Comparison of one of the scenes in the film as well as a preview for another Sony film.  The disc is also BD-Live enabled.

"The One" is a fun film, but there are several holes in the theory.  Nonetheless, for what it is, it succeeds.  The video quality is adequate, while the audio quality is tremendous.  Add this film to your collection if you are a martial arts fan and/or enjoy some good surround sound use.

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