“I am Yulaw! I am nobody’s bitch!”
What I Remember: If you had asked me a couple months ago, I would have just said I remember the video cover, but as I saw the tagline again (“In order to save the universe, he will have to fight the fiercest enemy he has ever faced…himself”), suddenly it came back to me.
This was one of the first times I thought a movie was just too stupid for me.
I LOVED action movies growing up, but I think this came out before I got really taken by them, and the idea of a film where a guy has to fight a copy of himself just seemed too silly even for me, who was just eight years old at the time. I don’t think I ever saw the trailer, because if I did, I definitely would have been sucked in (after all, the trailer is what got me in theaters for The Master of Disguise). I mean, watch this and tell me it doesn’t at least look like a fun time.
Ramblings on the Film: Now that I’m older and wiser, I realize that nothing is really too stupid for me anymore. Gone are any pretensions of being better than a film. After all, I saw kung fu, crappy CGI, Jason Statham, and Carla Gugino. I’m sold.
Ultimately, the film lives up to about half of my expectations. I didn’t expect it to be a good film in the least bit, but I thought I would have fun with it. After all, 87 minutes can’t kill a guy, right?
We start out with Jet Li being taken by the police (led by Sgt. Dean Norris) to an armored car for…something. Admittedly, they explain it later, in probably the movie’s only real moment of pathos, but as of now, he’s a bad guy who must be stopped. Then, through the air vents, a HAND WITH A GUN BURSTS THROUGH and shoots all the cops. They waste probably around a thousand bullets shooting at the air vent before ANOTHER JET LI finally breaks out and leads the cops on a chase.
So far, so good. We’re in for a fun ride. Turns out, two guys chasing after him aren’t just cops, but SPACE COPS (or Multiverse cops, whatever you want to say), and they’re played by none other than Jason Statham and Delroy Lindo. With their special space guns and space tracking devices that tell them when the portal to another universe will open, they find him just in enough time to take him to…Cop…Universe? Basically, they’re beamed into a building through what looks like an incredibly painful process, only to strap Yulaw (Jet Li’s character) into a chair to have him beamed to Prison Universe.
Here, we probably get the height of the movie’s comedy (and I’m not even sure if it’s intentional). See, Yulaw wants to become The One. By killing all the other versions of himself that exist in parallel universes, he absorbs their power and has killed 123 versions of himself. The slideshow gives us a Jet Li with dreadlocks, a Jet Li with long blonde hair, and plenty of other hilarious Jet Lis.
Needless to say, he escapes and makes it to the last universe with a copy of himself: Our’s. Then, we cut to a scene which is practically word-for-word and shot-for-shot a remake of the opening scene, only now Jet Li is one of the cops. Yulaw even shoots out from the air vent and leads the cop on a car chase. Once I realize that I’ve already seen this scene before, all tension basically leaves the room and now settle in for some good old plot exposition.
Luckily, this is a short movie that always seems to be in a rush to get to the action. Just as I’m getting bored with Jason Statham trying to convince Earth’s Jet Li (whose name is Gabe Law) about the whole Multiverse thing, you get a scene where Yulaw picks up two motorcycles like they’re empty boxes and smushes a cop with them, making a delightful Cop Sandwich.
Carla Gugino is basically Jet Li’s girlfriend in all the universes…I think. Her appearance in the beginning helps Yulaw break out, but you know nothing about her beyond that. Then she’s married to Gabe Law on Earth, and she never really gets much to do outside of outsmarting Yulaw once before she leaves the movie for the final half. If this movie is guilty of any crime against cinema, it’s not having enough Carla Gugino.
So, in case you couldn’t tell, the story is more than a little flimsy. After all, the tagline purporting that he needs to “save the universe” is kind of misleading, because, as it turns out, nobody knows WHAT will happen if Yulaw becomes The One. He could become a god (after all, he has been getting stronger with each copy he absorbs), but it’s just as likely that he could explode. In the end, I almost wish Yulaw had become The One just to see it blow up in his face.
But as with any crappy action movie, it’s all about if you can gleam any moments of inspiration from it. Ultimately, the action scenes are too over-CGI’d to really have any kind of impact, but when they finally stage a fight between Yulaw and Gabe Law (seriously, I can’t stop saying their names), the always-reliable Cory Yuen gets to stage a pretty damn good martial arts scene, even if I can’t tell what the hell kind of warehouse they’re fighting in. A gas warehouse? A fog machine warehouse? It changes with every cut.
Finally, it does have one of the best endings for a villain ever, which I won’t spoil here, but it gives Jet Li the chance to say the quote up top.
The thing is, these are exactly the kinds of movies I was nostalgic for when I started this blog. Cheesy, goofy, and not as self-serious as action movies are today. It’s not a good movie, no, but it is fun at times and, most importantly, it’s short. At 87 minutes, I’d gladly take it over most bad action movies being released now.
So, if you’re a fan of cheesy CGI, really bad dialogue, and Jet Li’s horrible English acting, I’d say it’s worth a look, even if most of the rest of the world seems to have forgotten it.