An action movie from 2001, starring Jet Li and Jet Li with Jet Li in a minor role, born in the wake of the Matrix-inspired Bullet Time craze, directed and co-written by James Wong.The story takes place in a multiverse composed of 125 parallel worlds. Gabriel Yulaw, a former interdimensional law enforcer, is forced to kill one of his other selves in self defense. This action accidentally leads him to discover that the life energy is redistributed among the surviving versions of Yulaw, making them stronger and faster. Soon afterward, he drops out of the force and begins actively hunting down all his alternate selves in order to become the most powerful being in existence. He makes it to 123, and only a single target prevents him from becoming The One.
The One contains examples of:
Acting for Two: Several actors play counterpart characters from the different dimensions; Jet Li plays both protagonist and antagonist, plus a few additional ones that we see getting killed off. Each character is significantly different from the other; Carla Gugino plays Gabe's loving wife and Yulaw's rather trampy-looking consort. She also plays his wife's Backup Twin in another universe.
A Hell of a Time: When Yulaw is imprisoned after failing to become The One, he finds it's not so bad, as he receives what he wanted anyways: a place where he is the most powerful of all.
All There in the Manual: The movie's official website, now shut down, included a lot of background material. In it, it is revealed that Yulaw was not the first to try this trick. There were at least two other interdimensional criminals who went around killing doubles. One of them did it for someone else.
Ambition Is Evil: Yulaw. At least, when his ambition is to become a Physical God and defy the normal laws of physics in the multiverse. It doesn't help when Jason's character suggests that COMPLETING the killings could very well destroy the universe the last killing took place in.
Armor Is Useless: Surprisingly averted. All of the armor worn by SWAT team members in both universes deflects bullets impressively well; the armor worn by the SWAT leader escorting Lawless is even shown deflecting a dozen bullets during a slow-motion sequence, and the officer is just in pain, not killed. When Yulaw shoots anyone with his pistol, he generally has to aim for limb shots to put anyone down (save the oddly-unarmored multiversal police).
Badass Normal: Roedecker. He's an ordinary human (or at least as ordinary as any multiverse enforcement officer) who is able to go toe-to-toe with Yulaw and fight evenly with him for about a minute and a half.
Yulaw: I am Yulaw! I am nobody's bitch! You are all mine. I don't need to know you. You only need to know me. I will be The One!
Battle in the Rain: Played with rather awesomely. Gabe and Yulaw dish it out for the last time...under a rain of sparks (they were in a factory).
Bifurcated Weapon: The movie begins with two very similar scenes of a prisoner being transferred, each in another universe. The cops' equipment is one of the differences; In the first scene, their rifles have attached shotguns.
Bittersweet Ending: Though Gabe lost his wife and is now a wanted murderer, Agent Funsch sends him to a "happy" utopian universe where Los Angeles is apparently "America's Cleanest City" and meets that universe's version of T.K. the same way he met her in his universe. Even Yulaw gets one of these - he fails in his goal and is trapped in a prison dimension, but forever testing his strength against endless foes is basically what he was trying to do anyway.
T.K.: That first time we met at the bookstore, did you ever imagine we'd end up in a mess like this? Yulaw: Even if I had known, I still would have done it. T.K.:(turns the gun on Yulaw) It wasn't a bookstore.
Bolivian Army Ending: For Yulaw. Except that he doesn't seem to mind fighting an endless number of enemies for what may be eternity—in fact, being the most powerful man around is exactly his dream.
Car Fu: Yulaw literally wields two police motorcycles like clubs and beat the living daylights out of the unfortunate cops who rode them mere seconds ago.
Chekhov's Gun: The mark left on Gabe's finger by his wedding band.
Conservation of Ninjutsu: In universe, and very literally, as conservation of life force. Each time a multiverse version of a person dies, the life force is spread among the remaining duplicates. Thus, by the time there are only two left, both have superhuman powers.
Also invoked at the ending, where Yulaw's apparent penalty is to fight wave after wave of inmates in a penal dimension that seems to be swarming with them.
Crapsack World: It's implied by Roedecker that Funsch's home universe is one, although his biography on the official website implies that the Beta Universe isn't that bad. It's just that Funsch was LAPD, and that 'verse's LA is a crapsack city, where everyone is, apparently, a combatant.
Crystal Spires and Togas: After Good Law finally subjugates Yulaw, he is dumped on a world like this as a "reward" for his services, largely because he is now a wanted felon with no family in his home universe.
It might also be suggested that the Alpha Universe, in which the Multiverse Authority is headquartered, could be like this as well.
According to the official site, the Alpha Universe isn't much different from any other, except for the presence of quantum tunneling tech (the only universe to develop it) that allows interdimensional travel. While it does have a political and economic effect on some, it largely does not affect the vast majority of people. For example, one of the interdimensional criminals heads a mercenary squad that hides out in another universe and participates in conflicts in the Alpha Universe, using an illegal quantum tunneling device, when someone pays for their services.
We get to see maybe a half-dozen different versions of Law at his hearing, including the criminal Lawless and the goofy-looking, blonde Sven Law.
According to Jason Statham's character, one of Law's counterparts is either gay or a woman (specifically, he says "married to a man"). This appears to be the only thing he mentions that bugs Law. Possibly because he can't figure out which case it would be.
Roedecker is an interdimensional law officer in one world and a gas station worker in ours.
T.K. is an Evil Redhead in one world, a wife in another, and a has-yet-to-meet Gabe "Good" Law Veterinarian in another.
Gabe is good friends with fellow LAPD officer Bobby Aldrich in our universe while, ironically, Bobby is a jailed felon wanting to kill Lawless, another version of Gabe, in another.
Al Gore became president in another world, and Bush in ours. note Not a big stretch: in fact it took several improbable events (90,000 people in Florida voting for Ralph Nader, Palm Beach County having a butterfly ballot, etc.) to make it come out the way that it did. A good example of the ripple effect.
According to the website, the Drakhan Universe has an element that doesn't exist in any other that is illegal to import into the Alpha Universe, as it can be easily used to build weapons that aren't picked up by metal detectors.
My Suit Is Also Super: While clothes do get damaged, eventually, Gabe bringing down a pole with a single kick apparently does no damage to his shoe.
No OSHA Compliance: The climax takes place in just such a factory. A couple of isolated, detonated explosives, and suddenly the entire building is a shower of sparks and flame. But at least the walkways can handle guys leaping twenty feet into the air before landing on them.
Punched Across the Room: Both Yulaw and Gabe can do that. Yulaw likes to do that after briefly going into a superspeed mode.
Replacement Goldfish: Gabe ends up being sent to a universe where an alternate version of his wife is still alive.
Red Herring: Funsch goes into a twenty-second Gun Porn-esque spiel about the high-tech machine-pistol he's carrying to Gabe Law. He gets off maybe half a dozen ineffective shots with it before it gets destroyed.
Redshirt Army: The SWAT teams in both versions of Los Angeles, as well as most of the multiversal police, are little more than speedbumps at best to Yulaw. The exceptions would be Roedecker and Funsch. The only time any uniformed police manage to seriously impair Yulaw is when Gabe is backing them up.
Required Secondary Powers: While sped up, both Yulaw and Gabe are able to perform feats that, realistically, would require certain other abilities not mentioned in the film, such as gripping the ground while running at 50 mph, so they don't start bouncing up and down on every step. Yulaw is able to also exert amazing control of his body while in mid-air.
Spotting the Thread: At one point both Gabe and Yulaw are knocked unconscious and no one can tell them apart. They have a narrow window to send the bad guy to the inescapable dimension and don't know who to send, until Agent Funsch sees the tan line from Gabe's wedding ring.
An eagle-eyed viewer may be able to tell which is which even before Funsch spots the tan line: Yulaw tied the arms of his jacket around his waist, while Gabe removed his entirely.
Super Strength: See the above example with the motorcycles. Then there's the fact that both Gabe and Yulaw are strong enough to punch each other several feet away and break heavy machinery.
Take a Third Option: Rather than kill Yulaw, they manage to teleport him to a prison dimension.
Yulaw invokes this in his scene with Roedecker.
Roedecker:[holds up bomb] First choice: give up. Second choice: die. Yulaw:[snatches bomb] Third choice.
Teleportation Sickness: Even Yulaw becomes helpless after a transit between dimensions, allowing him to be arrested.
Tell Me How You Fight: Yulaw uses a style that favors attacking in a straight line (Xingyiquan), which reflects how focused he is on achieving his goal. Gabe uses a more circular style (Baguazhang), showing that he is more about harmony and balance. This plays directly into their duel, where Yulaw has the advantage on a straight and narrow catwalk, but gets owned once they move to more wide-open ground and Gabe is able to get behind him.
Title Drop: A few times. Some from Yulaw and Gabe.
Unstoppable Rage: Subverted during the final confrontation between Gabe and Yulaw. Gabe, thoroughly enraged at T.K.'s murder, assaults Yulaw directly with raw strength and aggression, playing into Yulaw's strengths and allowing Yulaw to effectively counter and pummel him. It isn't until Gabe stops and goes into a state of controlled rage that lets him take advantage of his strengths that he's able to defeat Yulaw.
Worthy Opponent: Gabe, being the final target, has gradually become this to Yulaw as the life-force from the deceased other versions has also been distributed to him making him equally stronger and faster.
Even for a normal human, Roedecker was able to hold his own for at least 2 to 3 minutes.
"What if there was a killer travelling through parallel worlds... and he looked just like you?" — trailer.