“Everything Everywhere All At Once” is the perfect sequel to Jet Li’s masterpiece “The One”

Daniel Schienert and Dan Kwan and Everything Everywhere All At Once is an amazing movie that completely blew me away with its insane narrative structure, production value, volume of meaningful themes, emotional impact and sheer entertainment value. Everything is one of the most incredible feats of filmmaking I have ever seen, and I am not saying this lightly. It’s also a sequel to the 2001 film The One starring Jet Li.

Yeoh, this movie is Quan-tastic!

The new A24 film Everything Everywhere All At Once is a wonderful, colorful, bold and heartfelt story centered around Michelle Yeoh as she grapples with life, motherhood, daughterhood, marriage and unfulfilled dreams. The script is hilarious, and Yeoh has incredible chemistry with her on-screen husband, played by Ke Huy Quan, better known as Short Round, from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, aka Indiana Jones: The One Racist to Indians. The two get to banter and riff as not only their titular characters, but also as many, many versions of themselves in many realities. Everything is a film about dimension-hopping through the multiverse, with rules identical to the 2001 Jet Li action film The One.

Both films feature excellent martial arts action scenes, and some pretty great cinematography, centered around the Asian protagonist as they grapple with the multiverse. In Everything, Yeoh is contacted by the first reality to achieve reality-hopping, and is warned about an incoming danger in the form of an omniscient, all-powerful being who’s merged with all of their realities at once. Despite the high-concept, complicated and exposition-heavy setting of this sci fi, the film does a pretty good job of relaying this information to the audience. 

In a traditional narrative sense, the protagonist is thrust into an unknown world, where they have the benefit of being able to ask questions and learn more about this new world that they’re a part of. This technique allows the audience to as well have their questions answered about the plot and the magical rules that we now have to conform to. It’s not so much magic as science-based-fiction, but it’s still pretty whimsical, yet easy to follow.

As a downside, we then get consecutive scenes of Yeoh hiding in some part of a building as more explanations are uncovered through conversations with Quan. It can be a little derivative, and leads to some amount of suspension of disbelief and discrepancies in terms of where people are or what they’re doing from moment to moment. For example, for the first third, Yeoh is being chased by an evil-personified Jamie Lee Curtis, who tends to saunter in circles in the background if we need Yeoh and Quan to whisper and hide behind a conference table munching on a bagel, but also fast and deadly when we need a fun action sequence.

A thousand realities, a thousand emotional climaxes

On the flipside, there are a lot of themes packed tightly into this film. It’s kind of incredible how the Daniels managed to fit so many meaningful and fulfilled emotional arcs into the film. What’s more, the actors are so ridiculously talented and convincing that each of these arcs fit perfectly and resonate for every beat that they need to. While the first half of the film sets up the sci-fi and emotional segments, the second half is a nonstop wallop of conclusions to those segments.

The last hour of the film is a steady stream of emotional gutpunches one after another, getting steadily more and more impactful and meaningful. The film plunges you headfirst into a sea emotion and existential questions about love, relationships and the meaning of life itself. And it comes out of nowhere, that the film goes from kung-fu flick to tear-jerker to literally helping us realize how small of a space we occupy in the entire universe. I’m completely baffled at how well the film takes every single element, moment, motif, metaphor and visual from the first half and turns it into a complete, satisfying and impactful series of miniature climaxes that then culminate with a final emotional scene in a parking lot. The film crescendos after mountain of visual spectacle, only to rain upon itself gently in the most mundane and easy to shoot locations. The final, truly climactic moment is between a mother and a daughter, a woman and the system, a wife and a husband, a daughter and a father. Quiet, close, human moments of connection, completely void of CGI or sci-fi ridiculousness or kung fu action.

First encounters with a cinematic classic

I stepped out of the film stunned. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t fathom my very reality. As the film reel unfurled on the screen before me, the true grandeur of storytelling was splayed in front of me. The peak of filmmaking, the utter pinnacle of cinematic achievement. In the hour after the film, I wrestled with the fact that I’d have to write this review, that I’d have to rate this film. At first glance, I wanted to slap it with my first and only 10/10. I wanted to stick it on the top of my shelf and admire it. I couldn’t stop internally gushing about the utter genius it must have taken to tie together so many subplots and timelines and logical contrivances and tones and genres and still deliver such an impactful message. I was in awe at the fact that we’d been delivered so many messages at all

As time went on, my score crept down to a 9, as I stopped letting myself succumb to the film. I will admit, two days ago my score even teetered at an 8. I took a good, hard look at my previous reviews and ratings. I watched- nay, binged through a slew of terrible, shitty films to cleanse my visual palette. I couldn’t bring myself to even begin talking about this film. Hell, I usually research a film, its influences and its production journey, along with its key creators after I finish a film. When it came to Everything , I couldn’t bring myself to even open up its Reddit thread on r/movies. I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that I’d seen such an amazing visual spectacle.

Ultimately, I am going to give Everything Everywhere All At Once a score of nine out of ten. It sits in line with some of my favorite films of all time, and I look forward to revisiting the film, its characters, its insane plethora of stories and even my own rating. In the same way that I allowed myself to be floored by Spiderman: No Way Home and The Batman, only to revisit the films and restructure my review, I expect to do so for Everything as well.

Furthermore, this film prompted me to rewatch a film I hadn’t seen since I was in middle school, which similarly follows a martial artist as they travel through the multiverse, chased by a multiverse police. the One is a decent film with great action and a great story, but without much emotional gravitas. It is a fantastic prequel to Everything, even though Li doesn’t make a cameo or even a crossover like Dr. Strange, so that sucked.

9/10.

You must absolutely watch this film. It is an unmissable tour de force of sheer filmmaking genius.

Everything Everywhere All At Once is currently playing in theaters

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