Jet Li’s extensive filmography boasts seemingly countless roles, but the sci-action flick The One stands out as one of his more fascinating movies. Drawing inspiration from The Matrix, the movie offers an electrifying blend of alternate realities and martial arts. If you’re seeking a genre-bending adventure that you can enjoy from the comfort of your home, The One is currently streaming on Netflix.
One of Jet Li’s best movies, The One, is now on Netflix.
The One transports audiences to a world where the existence of parallel universes is not only possible but also potentially perilous. Jet Li portrays two characters: Gabe Law, a law enforcement officer from one universe, and Gabriel Yulaw, a rogue former officer who travels across dimensions, eliminating his alternate selves to gain immense power. As Yulaw’s body count rises, Gabe becomes an unexpected hero, determined to stop him from becoming “The One” and obtaining godlike abilities.
Directed by James Wong, The One features an impressive cast led by Jet Li, who flawlessly embodies the contrasting roles of Gabe Law and Gabriel Yulaw. Accompanying Li is a supporting cast that includes Jason Statham, Carla Gugino, Delroy Lindo, James Morrison, Dylan Bruno, Dean Norris, Steve Rankin, Tucker Smallwood, and Ron Zimmerman. The movie’s script was penned by Wong and his regular writing partner, Glen Morgan.
Released in 2001, The One joined a wave of movies aiming to emulate the success of The Matrix, infusing science fiction and martial arts. During that period, films like Equilibrium, Ultraviolet, and Aeon Flux also strived to replicate this winning formula, each with its own take on the genre. Although met with varied responses, these endeavors all aspired to capture the genre-shaping allure that The Matrix had initially achieved.
Arriving in 1999, The Matrix exceeded all expectations at the box office, becoming a massive hit. With a production budget of around $63 million, the film’s unique blend of groundbreaking visual effects, thought-provoking narrative, and innovative action sequences propelled it to a global gross of over $463 million.
While The One couldn’t replicate such triumph, it still garnered a respectable global gross of nearly $80 million against a $49 million budget, making it one of the more successful movies attempting to duplicate the success of The Matrix.
Despite its moderate box office success, The One garnered a mixed reception from critics and audiences alike. While some praised the film’s innovative premise and Jet Li’s dual performance, others found fault in its plot execution and character development. Not surprisingly, the fusion of sci-fi elements with martial arts choreography drew comparisons to The Matrix, which had previously set a high bar for the genre.
Imitators came out after The Matrix changed movies, but The One is one of the most successful, bringing in $80 million and becoming a cult hit.
On Rotten Tomatoes, The One has a critics score of 13 percent. Meanwhile, it has a significantly higher score of 51 percent from regular viewers. It’s clear the film struck a stronger chord with everyday audiences, highlighting a divide between critical reception and the film’s appeal to general viewers.
An intriguing tidbit about The One involves Dwayne Johnson’s initial attachment as the star. At the time, the film was titled The Rock Movie. However, when Johnson left to work on The Mummy Returns, the project underwent a transformation, with the title changing to The One upon Jet Li’s involvement.
A fascinating nugget of trivia about The One involves Jet Li’s utilization of two distinct kung fu styles to depict Gabe and Yulaw. The villainous Yulaw employs Xingyi Quan (Mind-Form Fist), while the heroic Gabe practices Bagua Zhang (Eight Trigrams Palm). Notably, these two styles, alongside Taiji Quan (Tai Chi), constitute the trio of primary internal Chinese kung fu styles.
The One was originally going to star Dwayne Johnson, but he pulled out to film The Mummy Returns.
In crafting The One, a remarkable juggling act was required to harmonize its action-driven sequences with its intricate sci-fi storyline. Jet Li and martial arts choreographer Corey Yuen collaborated on the intense fight scenes, while the film’s visual effects team employed cutting-edge technology to create the illusion of multiple universes. The fusion of genres demanded meticulous set design, costume choices, and seamless transitions between alternate realities, all of which were skillfully executed by the production crew.
The One may not be on the same level as The Matrix, but it’s a mind-bending sci-fi film that deserves a viewing. The film’s intricate plot, exceptional cast, and remarkable production values combine to offer a thrilling cinematic adventure. You can check it out on Netflix.