Jet Li, The One

Early on in The One, jet li breaks into fragments and gets sucked up into one of those swirling metaphysical vortex tubes that spits you out into a parallel universe. (I’m planning to buy one the moment I master Windows XP.) As special effects go, this one is fairly commonplace, but still significantly more fun than watching Li pretend to act. It’s standard operating procedure in a review of a movie like this one to proclaim that the star, however trashy his surroundings, is a veritable fireball of charisma. I’m here to offer a heretical view: Jet Li is not charismatic. In ”The One,” we watch good Jet battle evil Jet (they’re alter egos who hail from different dimensions — oh, never mind), and the difference between the characters boils down to…blank and slightly less blank.

Okay, I know — it’s an action film. Li, as always, kicks and leaps and twirls with razory grace, but his broken English is a good deal less charming than Jackie Chan’s, and it’s hardly much of a thrill to see ”The One” recycle, on a lower budget, the slo-mo bullet dodges from The Matrix, along with unspectacular variations on several other of that film’s time-bending demolition-ballet effects. The whole thing is scored to a pulverizing techno-metal beat that’s revved to make the action look a lot more exciting than it is. The soundtrack thrashes butt; Li just goes through the motions.

The One
  • Movie
  • 80 minutes