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Monday, 16 January 2012

Why the Ending of "The One" is Actually Depressing...

Last Night, I watched the Jet Li film "The One" for the first time in over 4 years. Of course, the last time I watched it wasn't the first, and as a teenager this had been one of my favourite action films. Sure it was made by the guys who effectively killed Millennium in Season 2, and the story isn't all that impressive, but it is still an enjoyable sci-fi action romp, and introduced me to both Jet Li and Jason Statham. There is one thing I had never noticed before, however, which really bothered me on this recent watch: well, 2 things, actually. The first is that Jason Statham had to look at Gabe's wedding band to know which of the pair he was when he had just seen him throw off his flaming shirt, while Yulaw still had his tied around his waist. But the most disturbing thing by far was the supposedly happy ending:

You see, at the end, Gabe has lost his wife, and is wanted for her murder, as well as the murders of several police officers. If he returns to his own world, he will be put in prison for the rest of his life which, given he was a cop, probably won't be a very long one. Funsch decides that he owes Gabe more than this, so breaks procedure to send him to a different world: one in which there is clean energy, and his wife is still alive. Whilst on the face of it this seems like a fairly happy ending for Gabe, all things considered, when you really think about it, this ending is pretty horrifying.

Ok, horrifying is a relative term...

For starters: As we are informed earlier in the film, things are completely different in each universe. As Funsch explains to Gabe: "In this Universe, you exist. In another you don't exist. In another, you're married to the same woman. In another, you're married to a different woman. In another, you're married to a man." - literally everything could be different. Gabe appears to have been dropped into a nicer version of his own Universe, about 3 years prior to the point his world has reached, because he has been dropped at the exact place and time he initially met his wife. His dog gets its paw run over by a car, and Gabe takes him into the vets, where T.K. (or, her alternate universe equivalent) is working, and Gabe realizes that this is how they met in the first place, and they can fall in love all over again.

But here's the problem: for starters, we don't know what's different in this Universe. She could be a Lesbian, or already have a boyfriend or husband. Hell, she may just straight up dislike the idea of dating a Chinese dude. Her personality will be completely different. And that's important - because even if she is a very similar person to T.K., and she and Gabe do end up getting together, it's going to be impossible for that relationship to last when he already has an idea of what his wife is like in his head before, as far as she's concerned, he ever meets her. I've never watched 500 Days of Summer, but I've been informed that it revolves around a guy who starts dating a girl named Summer, and falls in love with the idea of who she could turn out to be, as created in his head. When she doesn't live up to these fantasies, the relationship inevitably breaks down, because it's not really her that he's in love with, but some fictional concept of who she could have been. The same thing applies here: No matter how similar the woman in this universe may be to Gabe's wife, she is not Gabe's wife, and this will inevitably lead to their relationship, if they ever form one, falling apart. Not to mention the fact that even if they are completely identical to one another (something Yulaw's list of kills at the start tells us she won't be), she's gonna find it pretty creepy how fast he wants to go with her, and how much he knows about her in so little time, and might just break it off due to pressure. But even if, somehow, their relationship does hold under all these problems: There's still the fact that Gabe watches his wife being murdered in front of him only an hour before meeting this woman, and hasn't had time to get over it - which will fuck him up.

No matter how much of his anger he vents on innocent lamp posts...

I've never really lost anyone, so I'm pretty well just going off the opening episodes of House season 5 here, but as far as I can tell it is extremely painful, and just thinking about it should be enough to cause Gabe to collapse to the floor crying and not be heard from for days. Now, imagine that, but with a constant reminder in your face every single day of exactly what your wife looked like, and exactly the kind of life you could have led together had she not been murdered, and Gabe is almost a dead cert for suicide. Hell, he even says earlier in the film that he doesn't care if he dies now that she is gone - is it really a good idea to give him a reminder of her just when he seems like he might be able to cope?

House tells me the only way he will be able to cope is by taking a road trip with his best friend to a funeral, and throwing a bottle through a stained-glass window...

Even if he doesn't kill himself (I assume Yulaw has to kill him to become The One, otherwise it would have happened by coincidence before now, so he won't refrain from doing it just to protect the multiverse), Gabe is still going to be a mess around this new version of T.K. for several months at least, if he ever recovers - and it's not as if he'll ever be able to talk about what happened, except in the very broadest sense: "I was married to a woman who was murdered by a man who wanted me dead" "why did he want you dead?" "uh... because I was a cop?" - Gabe is going to be one seriously fucked up guy who no amount of counselling will help, and who is gonna need to knock back 40mg of Valium to sleep at night.

Too soon?

But wait - perhaps becoming stronger has made him more tolerant to poisons? It would certainly make sense, given that it is possible to build tolerances to Benzoes, Opiates and other drugs - so perhaps Gabe will need enough tranquilizer to kill an Elephant just to sleep at night - and how the fuck is he gonna get that prescribed? He's not, which means either he has to man up and get over his wife's death (which he won't, being constantly reminded of her), or he's going to have to go out and score ridiculous amounts of drugs illegally. Either way, he's fucked.

And we all know Jet Li's track record with Junkies...

And then we get onto the question of whether he has existed before in that Universe or not. As we know, there is a possibilty there was another Gabe in that Universe before him, and whilst there is no chance of him running into the alternate version of himself, since we know he and Yulaw are the only 2 left, there is always the chance of this alternate Gabe's history catching up with Gabe.

Where's that Chinese Manservant of mine gone? It's shower time!

Think about it: at the start, we see another alternate Jet Li, Lawless, being transferred from prison to a courthouse cell, because he is going to give testimony against some mobsters. Imagine if something along these lines had gone on in this universe. Maybe the alternate Gabe had been in protective custody when Yulaw killed him. Now, what's to stop someone from seeing Gabe and recognizing him as the alternate Gabe, and killing him for this, just as Tony Soprano did to that guy he saw whilst driving his daughter around colleges in the first season?

Being Choked to death with electrical wire isn't normal.
But when Snitching it is...

And even if the alternate Gabe wasn't a criminal, Gabe had better hope that no-one has heard of him. If he lived in the same area, or was an at all known figure, then Gabe's fucked. But you know what? That doesn't really matter - because Gabe is fucked anyway. And you know why?

No, I mean seriously.

He is a Chinese man with no form of identification, no home, and no money, who has been dropped into a town centre in the United States. Even in the most Liberal interpretation of the modern world possible (which one presumes this apparent Utopia is, given everyone drives an electric powered car and there's no smog in Hollywood), that's not going to end well. Gabe is essentially (scratch that: is) an illegal immigrant. He has no family, nobody knows him - he is going to have to fend for himself. He was a cop his whole life, but with no history, he cannot possibly become a police officer in this Universe. So what can he do? Well, he can either hope that this alternate Universe is more socialist and that T.K.'s job will be enough to support them both comfortably, and that he can get her to marry him without her finding him too creepy or him wanting to commit suicide because of his wife's murder, or he can live like an illegal immigrant in modern America: working a shitty job for fuck all money and being constantly abused because he essentially has no rights. Hell, one of the best case scenarios would play out with him becoming a delivery boy for a Chinese restaurant, and even then there's a chance someone mistaking him for a Jap might pull him off his bike and slash his throat before he has a chance to defend himself. You know, that or he would be bored shitless and resent his new life, causing his new wife to grow tired of him and leave him. To be honest, it looks as though there is really only one solution for Gabe at this point:

That's right - join the triads. Think about it: he's super smart, extremely capable, and ridiculously strong. He managed to beat down the most powerful man in the Universe: in any Universe. When I was a kid, they told us we could either be cops, or criminals. What I'm saying to you is: when you're an illegal immigrant who's gonna get deported if he tries to become a cop, which option are you going to take?

3rd choice...

But ok, Gabe's too moral to become a triad, even if he knows there's a chance the police will turn him and he can work for them after all. He's not going to become a Mercenary either, so what does that leave us with? There's really only one option left if he wants to earn a decent living doing something he's good at:

That's right - he has to become a cage fighter, working in seedy underground clubs, beating the shit out of anyone who faces him until one day some guy who lost big time betting against him blows him away with a Mac 10 as he walks out the back of a nightclub. His life cut tragically short.

Mel Gibson finds the idea of a Chinaman dying hilarious, whereas Danny Glover is screaming because Gibson is crushing his hand for "being too black".

Or, you know, he could become a professional sportsman or actor or some shit. But then, that wouldn't fit in with the point I'm trying to make here. And that point is, even if things seem rosy, and Gabe's new home looks like paradise, chances are things are still pretty fucked, and he'll no doubt spend the rest of his life wishing he had killed Yulaw, on the assumption that he would either rather be dead than keep on keeping on, or there was a possibility he could have become Doctor Manhattan when he was the last one left alive (I mean, his wife was Silk Spectre, afterall).

Oh, you thought I was kidding?

In fact, the only person for whom this ending is happy is - you guessed it - Yulaw.


Don't worry - Chinese New Year will be over soon enough, then I can get back to discussing topics which have nothing to do with the Chinese...

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