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'One, The'

Violence is appalling in martial arts thriller

Friday, November 02, 2001

By Barry Paris, Post-Gazette Movie Critic

"The One" is a sci-fi martial arts thriller, conceived in commercialism and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equally violent in parallel universes.

'The One'

RATING: PG-13 for rampant violence

STARRING: Jet Li, Carla Gugino, Delroy Lindo

DIRECTOR: James Wong

WEB SITE: www.spe.sony.com



Those parallel universes collide when rogue agent Jet Li of the Multiverse Bureau of Investigation is forced to confront himself in the form of alter egos who turn on one another in alternate realities.

Jet's reality at hand is the one in which he's a devoted veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department with a devoted wife (Carla Gugino). Neither of them understands why his evil twin Skippy suddenly appears from another world or why Jet's good self starts chasing his bad self.

This universal confusion is a tough gig: Your body shatters and liquefies in a tornado-like vortex, then magically recombines elsewhere. It's especially noxious if you, like Jet, are sentenced to life in the Stygian Penal Colony of the Hades Universe -- one I've personally been inhabiting for years.

Director-writer James Wong (an "X Files" TV director) makes strange, interesting uses of slo-mo, jump-mo, dance-mo and stop-action-mo -- providing "The One" with a fine sound-effects track in the process.

But I'm sorry: When a white rat explodes, killing everyone in sight, while hundreds of bullets never make anyone even bleed let alone die, there's something sick and objectionable about the violence -- truly appalling for kids. If this thing can get a PG-13 rating, only Jeffrey Dahmer's head-boiling of little boys should get an R.

We are told that Jet Li "burst into Hollywood" with the megahit "Lethal Weapon 4" in 1998. As far as I'm concerned, the sooner he bursts out of Hollywood, the better.

The premise of traversing parallel universes reminds me of Father Guido Sarducci's report when Vatican astronomers discovered a parallel planet identical to Earth in every respect but one: "They eat corn on the cob from top to bottom, instead of side to side."

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