One Way


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)


One Way is kind of a tamed-down, higher-budget version of the classic exploitation film I Spit on Your Grave, following the standard formula of "girl gets raped, get gets brutal revenge." This is the second such film I've seen in the past two weeks, following Straightheads, a British film in which Gillian Anderson goes through the rape/revenge cycle. This time the victim is played by Lauren Lee Smith, who plays a sweet, naive girl who works at an ad agency.

The film begins with a flashback - or perhaps an imaginary flashback. The relationship of the flashback to reality is never established. Lauren Lee is a barely pubescent child who is raped by four young thugs, and is then revenged by an African-American in a general's uniform, who slaughters all the thugs with an assault weapon. It's clear that the general is imaginary -some kind of a steam valve for her internal pressure. The rest of the incident? Who knows? Was she raped? Unclear. It comes out later in the film that she reported the rape, including the part about the black general with an AK-47, thus earning herself a nice long rest in a nice soft room since neither the rapists nor their bullet-strewn bodies were ever found. Perhaps she killed them and blamed it on the "general." Perhaps the rape never happened in the first place. Perhaps it happened and she just fantasized the revenge.

In the film's main story, the childhood rape victim is really not the central character, but a peripheral element. She is the platonic best friend of a go-getter in an advertising firm who is just about to marry the boss's daughter. The boss's ne'er-do-well son catches the rape victim alone at night in the office and violates her brutally, then leans on his future brother-in-law to give him an alibi. Torn between loyalty to his best friend (the victim) and his entire future, the go-getter makes the amoral choice and lies on the witness stand.

The victim goes nuts because this is the second time she's been raped without getting any justice from the legal system. She wants revenge. First she schemes to cause the liar to lose his job and his fiancée. Then she kidnaps her assailant, sodomizes him with a gigantic strap-on, then kills him and lets the liar take the fall for the murder. The film is about how all that eventually gets sorted out.

It is not as sensationalistic as I've made it sound. Both the liar and the victim are fleshed-out characters not just cardboard plot devices, and there are plenty of twists and surprises at the trial. The film is also assembled with a nice smooth linear narrative and some sound cinematography. It's a completely competent effort in every way.

Having said that, I still can't recommend the film to you. It is much too plot-heavy, and the plot relies on several implausible points.

(1) The police do not believe at first that the liar is the murderer. They naturally make the correct assumption that the rape victim was after revenge. But as the true murderer is about to be hauled off in cuffs, she receives a completely unexpected and airtight alibi. An elderly nun, Sister Mary Plot Device,  swears that the victim/killer was with her during the entire time-frame when the kidnapping and murder occurred. This nun just felt sorry for the victim and decided to lie for her. Since she's an elderly nun ready to swear to her story on the bible, the police naturally rule out the real murderer as a suspect. This was a flagrant abuse of the normal tolerance an audience will allow for the use of a "deus ex machina" - and it was almost literally a "deus" in this case, since the sworn word of an elderly nun is about as close as a scriptwriter can come to having God personally exonerate the accused.

(2) The liar's fiancée, by then an ex-fiancée, conveniently forgets an important piece of evidence that would completely exonerate her ex. Later in the trial, she returns at the 11th hour to say she omitted this key fact. The ol' "I was with him/her all night long" alibi is actually used three times, and each time the police or court officers immediately buy into it 100% and redirect the investigation. In this one case it was true. The other two times it was perjury.

(3) The murderer splatters her former rapist's blood all over her Audi, so that it looks like an abattoir. There is no explanation of how she could have cleaned every trace of the DNA from her automobile.

The contrived plotting is exacerbated by the distance the script maintains between the characters and the audience. Although the characterization has some depth, there is no possibility for empathy with any of the characters.

* The rape victim gets away with her revenge murder, and we see her smiling and happy at the end, riding a cab to the airport to begin a new life elsewhere, to the strains of happy-ass Gilligan music. While we can sympathize with her actions to some degree, even root for her revenge, we can't relate to the cavalier, self-satisfied, even smug way in which she laughs at the law. The film would have been better off to allow her a mixture of relief and intense regret.

* The other main character is the liar, and although he seems like a decent human being who grows as the film progresses, we can't really empathize with him because we have seen how he cheats on his trusting fiancée and we have seen how he lies to protect a man he knows to be a rapist.

Overall it's too sensational to be a mainstream drama and too tame to be an exploitation picture.


Amazon Deutschland is selling the Region 2 DVD for 14 Euros. The film is in German or English, but the special features are all in German.


  All other reviews are in German. The film was released theatrically in Germany.


4.8 IMDB summary (of 10)

That is about a point low. The film is not a masterpiece, but it does not belong in the 4s. I would have guessed 5.5-5.9.


Box Office Mojo. The budget was about nine million dollars. It was filmed in Europe and Canada. It opened disappointingly, with a $600,000 weekend in Germany, third among new releases for the week and sixth overall.

It grossed less than two million in its run, maxxing out at 304 theaters. (Blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean come close to 1000 theaters and can gross up to $60 million.)


  • Lauren Lee Smith: breasts and full side nudity.
  • Sebastien Roberts: buns


A note on Til Schweiger, who is the star of this film. I know that he is a superstar in German-language films, especially comedies, and I think he did a good job in a complex role in this film, but I can't imagine that he will ever be a leading man in English-language films. (Unless he produces them himself, as he did with this one.) It's not that he has a German accent. Not at all. If you did not know it in advance, you'd never guess his pronunciation to be Germanic, and the way he speaks English is generally quite charming, but he has a much worse problem than an accent. He has a high-pitched nasal voice and a complete inability to pronounce the English letter "r," making the "w" sound instead. At one point he actually said (I'm not exaggerating), "I'm sewious, I'm getting mawwied." I think I may have giggled cruelly at that point. He's a very handsome fellow and a good actor, but unless he gets himself a voice and diction coach, the pinnacle of his English-language career is going to be as the future voice of Elmer Fudd.

(Wagnerian music):

"Be vewy quiet. I'm sewius about hunting wabbits befow I get mawwied."


Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


It's a completely competent film, but the combination of unsympathetic main characters and convoluted plot machinations lowers the film from the status of drama to melodrama and makes it nothing more than a reasonably engaging story which places a slightly excessive strain on our credulity and offers insufficient compensation in the form of either edification or guilty pleasures.