Lots of films are intended to have sequels, launch franchises, or even be the start of a new cinematic universe, but things don’t always work out the way they’re planned. There are plenty of times that a film should’ve worked, and I’m going to be looking at the ones that I think deserved better, by analysing why they failed, why I think there’s potential there, and then giving a few sequel or franchise ideas.
This time in ‘The Franchise That Should Have Been’ – The One
As always, spoilers ahead.
The One is very much a product of it’s time. There’s an abundance of early 2000’s CGI, which has aged about as well as the two Papa Roach songs on the soundtrack, but when you look past the polygons and the new metal (and Jason Statham’s distracting hair), there are plenty of things to like about The One. I think this film is not just ready for a sequel, but there’s serious franchise potential, but before I get to that…
Just why did it fail?
The One didn’t embarrass itself at the box office, but it didn’t exactly light up the world. It had a budget just short of $50 million, and ended it’s theatrical run with a little over $72 million. While this doesn’t scream profit, the likelihood is that once all of the TV rights and DVD sales were factored in, this film would have made some money.
One of the biggest factors in this was no doubt the lack of a bankable star. Jet Li was pretty much the sole focus of the marketing campaign (his name was above the title on most of the posters), and while he no doubt has fans, he doesn’t have a spectacular track record, especially when you take out any franchises of which he was only a small part. The other recognisable name is Jason Statham, and he wasn’t anywhere near as well known as he is now, as this was released before The Transporter, The Expendables and Crank, which are probably his most notable roles.
The hard sell
This is one of those films that will either have you interested straight away, or have you dismiss it just as quickly. The one line pich for this film goes something like this: a man travells through different dimensions to kill every other version of himself in order to gain ultimate multiversal power. To long time readers of comic books or science fiction novels, this is an easy concept to get your head around, but in an era when mind bending sci-fi was only just starting to come into prominence, a lot of audiences might not have gotten what this film was going for.
Why did I like this film so much?
Even though one way this film chooses to demonstrate the multiverse by putting Jet Li in a bunch of different wigs (Jet Li with long dreadlocks was my favourite), there are some other, better, glimpses into what we could see in potential sequels. There’s a moment when Jason Statham’s character comes face to face with an alternate universe version of his recently deceased partner, which is just one way this concept could play with your feelings, or stunt the emotional growth of a character, should a story choose to go in that direction.
The potential of power
In the very opening scene of this film we can an idea of how powerful Jet Li’s character has become. He’s so fast and strong that he can move from one opposition to the next before his last victim has hit the ground. Whatever you thought of this film, you have to acknowledge that these moments were entertaining cinema.
There’s also a great moment between Li and Delroy Lindo, when they go through all the possible outcomes of Li’s plan, the most interesting of which being him attaining the power of a god. This is something we never get to see, but it definitely left me wanting more.
What are we missing out on?
I’ve already hinted at a few ideas, but let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way. Sorry Statham, but lose the hair, and the accent. It’s easy to explain, a Jason Statham from another universe comes through a wormhole, and this time he’s bald and very English. Sorted. It might even be good to see evil Jet Li and evil Jason Statham team up, having both killed many of the multiversal versions of themselves.
So what about plot? The obvious thing would be that Jet Li has become the leader of the ultra high security prison dimension he’s been sent to, and now has an army of dangerous, amoral criminals at his disposal, which would make for perfect fodder for our heroes. There’s only one thing he’s missing – the ability to leave this prison dimension. That is until some sort of plot devise happens, and he of course breaks free, and is now once again on the hunt for the one version of himself that’s left out there in the multiverse.
That’s all very well and good, I hear you typing, but the first film didn’t make a lot of money, so why make a sequel? Well, it’s funny you should ask. Something that’s come a long way in the last fifteen years is the Chinese box office, where Jet Li is still a big draw, only now, the Chinese market is one of the biggest in the world. This film would not do well in America or Europe, and could potentially be s straight to Netflix deal in the western world, but there’s big money to be had in worldwide box office.
I know this is my solution for everything, but why not bring in Gareth Edwards to direct? For anybody that doesn’t know, he’s the Welshman behind one of the most critically acclaimed martial arts films in recent memory: The Raid 2. This was not only critically adored, but it was somehow made for only $4.5 million. Obviously if the main stars returned they would need a big pay day, but I still think there’s a way to make this film, and make a decent profit, which of course is all that matters?
So what do you think about this The One? Have I convinced you that the world lost a great franchise, or do you think I’m wrong, as usual? Share any thoughts, comments, or suggestions for other franchises that should have been below.
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