JeffVice's Review of Ivan the Terrible, Part One

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In a perfect world, movie artists from other countries would be able come to the United States and make films just as good, and be just as successful, as those they make in their homelands. But as we all know, this isn't a perfect world, and things don't work that way, especially for stars who have come stateside from Hong Kong. While Michelle Yeoh found her niche in the Oscar-winning "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," her one-time co-star Jackie Chan has had to team with motor-mouth Chris Tucker to reach stardom, while Jet Li has been consigned to a far worse fate. His latest, "The One," might not be as sickeningly violent as the one that preceded it (this summer's "Kiss of the Dragon"), but it rarely lets him cut loose with his impressive martial artistry — which may be even more unpardonable. Also, this underwhelming science-fiction/thriller is busy swiping from other movies (among them, "The Matrix," "Timecop" and the "Highlander" films) and trying to make the action star into an actor, which has never been his strongpoint. Here Jet plays dual roles, those of L.A. County deputy sheriff Gabriel Yu-Law, and his alternative-universe counterpart, who's been killing other versions of himself to gain unearthly powers (including speed and strength). This evil doppelganger first makes his presence known to Gabe when he tries to kill his "good" twin during a routine prisoner exchange. Fortunately, two "multiverse agents" (Delroy Lindo and Jason Statham) interfere, saving Gabe's life in the process. However, when they explain to Gabe what's really going on, he has a hard time swallowing their tale, as does his wife (Carla Gugino), who's been wondering why her husband has been getting stronger and faster. Time's running out, though. Gabe's fellow officers are now hot on his trail — because they believe he committed crimes perpetrated by his malevolent counterpart. And that counterpart has finally found out where Gabe lives and is setting a trap for him there. Though some aspects of Jet's performance are sketchy (particularly his unintentionally comic emoting as a villain), he's still the best thing that could have happened to the movie. He's much more credible than WWF wrestler The Rock, who was originally supposed to play the part. Unfortunately, director James Wong ("Final Destination") seems to think fans want to see Jet using motorcycles — rather than fists and feet — to pummel his opponents (a novelty that runs out of steam fairly quickly). "The One" is rated PG-13 for violence (martial-arts combat, gunplay and brutal beatings), scattered use of strong profanity, brief gore and some brief, crude talk. Running time: 80 minutes. E-MAIL:
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Okfor ages12+