Sunday, 13 July 2008
The One (2001)
(Screenshot courtesy hkfanatic.com)
Jet Li vs. Jet Li - can it get any better?
This is a sci-fi flick, dealing with the mystery of parallel universes. Parallel universes exist, and so, if you have the technology, you can actually travel to another parallel universe and visit yourself (and since all the yous have similar names, they will be easy to locate). But what happens if you kill the other you?
Yu Law, formerly a policeman in the force guarding the highly restricted travel between the universes in one of the more advanced universes, has found out that if he kills his other selves, he will get stronger, because when one dies, his strength, smartness, etc. is evenly distributed among the ones remaining.
But what eventually happens when you've killed all the others, and you're the only one left? Some say it will wreck the balance in the multiverse and destroy it. But Yu Law thinks he will become God. So, he ruthlessly kills all the other Laws in the multiverse one after one - including the blond Sven Law (!?). But the last one he has to kill, Gabriel Law, won't give up so easily, because, somehow, Yu Law has gotten all the evilness and Gabe Law has gotten all the goodness in the distribution of the strength of the parallel Laws!
It probably won't be any too terrible spoiler if I share the ending with you. Basically, evil Yu Law is eventually sent to the Stygian penalty colony in the Hades universe, where he will get to do the kung fu with the other inmates for the rest of his life. Good Gabe Law gets to escape the mess in his own universe and is sent to a fairytale LA where everyone is nice and eveything is bright and candy-like, and, most importantly, where his wife's parallel alter ego is still alive. Good for him: Gabe won't have any competition from the other Law, because Yu Law already killed him. But what we don't know is whether there will be any legal repercussions for Gabe Law in this other universe due to the fact that a guy who looked just like him was recently killed by another guy who looked just like him ...
But I wonder if it wouldn't have been better if they'd have mixed up the Laws, after all. Gabe, with his goodness and sweetness, could have made the Stygian colony a much better and friendlier place, while Yu could have learned to be nicer again after getting some of all the love and sweetness in the candy and balloons universe.
Though only one Jet Li at the time really is Jet Li (the other is a stunt with jet Li's face glued onto him), the kung fu of the grand finale is quite interesting. What to do when your opponent has exactly the same strength and ability as you? Gabe Law tries using a completely different style ...
As mentioned in the trivia section of imdb.com:
"For the martial arts aficionados: Jet Li uses two distinct kung fu styles when portraying Gabe and Yulaw. The evil Yulaw uses Xingyi Quan, or "Mind-Form Fist" (loosely translated). As can be seen when he is training, it is a very linear, offensive style. Gabe on the other hand practices Bagua Zhang, or the "Eight Trigrams Palm". It is characterized by open palm fighting, with circular footwork. Both styles are two of the three main "internal" styles of Chinese kung fu - the third being Taiji Quan (Tai Chi)."
(Screenshot courtesy jiggscasey.com)
Heh, well, for one thing, the only women who ever appear are the girlfriends/wives of the two remaining Law guys.
In the beginning of the film, Yu Law escapes from deportation with the help of a racy redhead in a corset dress, who has smuggled a detonating mouse in her heel into the premises (yes, much like when death sentences are carried out in the US, people can come watch when someone is deported to a penal colony in this universe). But what does she get out of it (not to mention the poor mouse)? We don't know, because she is completely ignored in the rest of the movie.
Gabe Law's wife T.K. is the ideal type of woman you turn into a suicidal maniac for when she is killed by your evil alter ego. She is kind, nurturing, a vet, and has even learned some Chinese for you. She is also rather dumb in combat situations, getting not only herself, but also other people killed by the evil guy who claims to be her husband.
I can't decide which Law I should like less. The evil one, at least, has a sympathetic taste in music (and thanks to him, the movie's soundtrack is quite enjoyable). But the good one is not just nice and good-hearted in the usual Jet Li way, but he's so sugar-coatedly sweet that it's dangerous for your teeth, and you can't help but secretly hope that Yu Law will win in the grand spark, steam and acid special effects specked finale in the factory, after all.
Instead, Funsch (Jason Statham), the rookie of the two multiverse agents chasing Yu Law, seems to be a much more interesting character ...