Gabriel Yulaw (Jet Li), once an officer of the "Multiverse Authority," an agency that polices interdimensional travel via wormholes, seeks to hunt down all variations of himself in alternate universes. By killing all 124 of his other selves (becoming the last version) and absorbing their life energies, he believes he will become an immortal godlike being called "The One". Yulaw is briefly captured by MVA agents Rodecker (Delroy Lindo) and Funsch (Jason Statham), only to escape from captivity during the trial sentencing him to life in the Stygian penal colony in the Hades universe.
The last known alternate, Gabriel (Gabe) Law, works in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. For two years he has been experiencing increases in strength, speed and mental ability, but neither he nor his wife, T.K. Law (Carla Gugino), can understand why. While transporting a prisoner for the Sheriff's Department, Gabe "feels" Yulaw's presence just before he attempts to kill Gabe. Yulaw escapes, but is followed by Gabe, who inhumanly leaps a very high wall. Landing on the other side, Gabe is shot and wounded by Yulaw. As Yulaw approaches Gabe to finish him off, they are interrupted by Rodecker and Funsch.
Gabe realizes Yulaw is identical to him in every way. Unfamiliar with the interdimensional travel concept, he finds Yulaw's appearance shocking. After checking into the hospital, Gabe is ambushed by Yulaw, which Rodecker and Funsch again foil. Yulaw deters them from shooting him because if he is killed, then Gabe would then be left as the only "One". Dressed alike and identical in every way, Gabe and Yulaw's battle confuses Gabe's police colleagues. Both Gabe and Yulaw manage to escape the hospital.
Rodecker is faced with a dilemma: they have to capture Yulaw, but they cannot kill him or allow Gabe to be killed because whoever survives will become "The One", which could potentially have catastrophic damage to the multiverse. Funsch insists that Yulaw, as the instigator, must be dealt with in a more aggressive manner. Rodecker makes a fateful decision to "go way off procedure" and split the team. Rodecker pursues and fights Yulaw and is killed when Yulaw breaks his neck. Funsch catches up with Gabe and explains the multiverse and Gabe's abilities to him. Yulaw finds Gabe's residence where TK, believing it is Gabe, attempts to protect him, but she senses he is not her husband. Gabe arrives, only to have Yulaw force him to watch while he kills her. Funsch finds Gabe and they team up to find Yulaw at the next wormhole.
Yulaw, Gabe and Funsch arrive at the industrial plant, where the final battle between Gabe and Yulaw takes place. When Gabe eventually wins, all three are caught in a wormhole and taken back to the MVA headquarters in the Alpha Universe. Yulaw is transported immediately to the prison colony universe after a last attempt to switch places with Gabe. The MVA then prepares to send Gabe back to his own universe where he will be arrested and put in prison for the murders Yulaw committed, but Agent Funsch instead sends him to a universe similar to Gabe's past via another wormhole, after recalling an earlier conversation Gabe told him about the events which led up to him meeting his wife.
Meanwhile, Yulaw, now in the Stygian penal colony, declares he will still become the One. The camera pulls back to show that Yulaw, standing at the top of a Ziggurat in the Hades universe, battles hundreds of fighters as the credits roll.Jet Li as Gabriel "Gabe" Law / Gabriel Yulaw / Lawless
Jason Statham as MVA Agent Evan Funsch
Delroy Lindo as MVA Agent Harry Rodecker / Gas Station Attendant
Carla Gugino as T.K. Law and Massie Walsh
James Morrison as Officer Bobby Aldrich and 'A' World Inmate #1
Dylan Bruno as Officer Yates
Richard Steinmetz as Officer D'Antoni
Cynthia Pinot as Girl With Briefcase
Steve Rankin as MVA Supervisor
Dean Norris as Sgt. Siegel
Harriet Sansom Harris as Nurse Besson
Tucker Smallwood as Prison Warden
Archie Kao as Woo
Doug Savant as Cop (uncredited)
Originally the film was to have starred The Rock, before Li assumed the lead role.
The hospital scenes were filmed at the North Hollywood Medical Center.
The documentary Jet Li is 'The One' on the special features section on the DVD explains that both Gabriel Yulaw and "Gabe" Law use martial arts that represent their personalities. Yulaw uses Xingyiquan (The Shape-Will Fist), characterized by aggressive linear movements, while Gabe uses Baguazhang (The Eight Trigram Palms) which uses subtle, circular movements. These martial arts are confirmed by their own personalities as Yulaw is very direct, not caring whom he hurts, while Gabe believes life goes in a circle, perfectly balanced.
As part of the promotion for the movie, there was an official website for the fictional Multiverse Authority called the "MVA Mainframe". Although the site is now defunct, it provided detailed background material on the storyline and some of the characters, including some that were not in the film.
The One grossed $19,112,404 (an average of $6,604 per screen) in its opening weekend in North America, opening at #2, and eventually grossed $43,905,746. In other territories, the film grossed $28,783,380, making for a worldwide total of $72,689,126.
The film received mostly negative reviews. Based on 85 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes as of April 2015, the film has an overall approval rating from critics of 14%, with an average score of 3.9/10.
The score by Trevor Rabin was released, but the soundtrack was not.
- Drowning Pool – "Bodies"
- Drowning Pool – "Sinner"
- Disturbed – "Down with the Sickness"
- Godsmack – "Awake"
- Jesse Dayton – "Train of Dreams"
- Papa Roach – "Blood Brothers"
- Papa Roach – "Last Resort"
- Linkin Park – "Papercut"