Preview by: Jack Foley
IT'S FAIR to describe Unleashed (formerly Danny The Dog) as the
most eagerly-anticipted of all of Jet Li's movies in Hollywood.
As shamelessly enjoyable as Kiss of the Dragon was, the martial
arts master hasn't really made that big a splash when doing things
the Hollywood way.
Unleashed, however, could change that, not least because it boasts
a supporting cast including Morgan Freeman and Bob Hoskins.
The film is also directed by Louis Leterrier, who proved himself
quite adept at handling martial arts action sequences in Jason
Statham's The Transporter, and has been written and produced by
Luc Besson, who is also no slouch when it comes to high-concept
The film finds Li as Danny, a man who has been raised like a
dog who is continually forced to fight in death-matches for his
Danny is given a new chance in life, however, when he befriends
a blind piano teacher (Freeman) and his young friend (Kerry Condon)
and is ultimately forced to choose between his new-found humanity
and the life he escaped when re-captured by his former master,
Unleashed is further notable for boasting an original soundtrack
by Massive Attack and action sequences choreographed by the legendary,
Yuen Woo-Ping (The Matrix) that should satisfy Jet Li fans who
have thus far been disappointed by Hollywood productions that
have failed to take advantage of his tremendous physical abilities.
What's more, advance word suggests
that the jaw-dropping action sequences are woven into a dramatic
narrative that showcases some surprisingly nuanced acting from
the action star.
Certainly, the film is generating plenty of buzz among his fans
from all corners of the globe - as well as some controversy.
The poster, for instance, depicts Li lying on the ground defending
himself against a foot stepping on his head, and has been criticised
in some quarters as being racist against the Chinese.
The comments prompted Li to answer them on his website, where
he states that the misunderstanding might be 'because the people
who say this have not yet seen this movie so they don't really
know the idea behind the film. But believe me this film does not
In a question and answer session, the star goes on to answer
questions about his ONE Foundation, a charitable non-profit organization
he is setting up to aid in the victims of natural disasters.
And there is news of another forthcoming project with helmer,
Ronny Yu, and celebrated choreographer, Yuen Woo Ping.
And a report on the Rotten Tomatoes website includes a review
of the film from world-famous critic, Harry Knowles (of Aint It
Cool News), who describes Unleashed as 'hands down the best English
Language Jet Li movie' yet.
Of the violence, he describes it as 'incredibly intense' and
'realistic' but because of the chemistry that exists between Li,
Freeman, and Kerry Condon he didn't miss the mayhem when it's
Related stories: Read
our verdict on the film
review of the Massive Attack soundtrack