Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Making of. Making of SFX. Cut scenes.
Out-takes. Music video: RZA - Baby Boy. Regions 2/4.
IT'S rare to find a mainstream martial arts movie that dares
to transcend its boundaries but Unleashed does just that in splendidly
Jet Li, the Fred Astaire of action sequences, stars as Danny,
a human rottweiler who has been kept as a dog by his vicious benefactor,
Bart (Bob Hoskins), to strike fear into any enemies of the Glasgow-based
Whenever a loan is missed, Bart lets Danny off his leash by removing
his human collar - thereby allowing Li to demonstrate his martial
arts prowess in a series of bone-crunching fight sequences that
are breathtaking but brutal.
Things change dramatically, however, when Danny meets a blind
piano tuner (Morgan Freeman's Sam) and subsequently escapes his
cage to take refuge with him and his step-daughter, Victoria (Kerry
But as Danny begins to discover what it is to be human - learning
to play the piano and eat ice-cream - his past threatens to catch
up with him and it isn't long before Danny has to fight again
to protect his new-found life.
Unleashed is one of the most bizarre
action films to come along in a while given its mix of extreme
violence and sugar-coated sentiment.
Yet it is utterly compelling and actually affords Li the opportunity
to demonstrate some acting ability to match his physical attributes.
His scenes with Freeman and Condon lend the movie a great deal
of dramatic weight, while even Hoskins shines as the villain of
the piece, hinting at some humanity in spite of the way he mistreats
It is a credit to director, Louis Leterrier, producer, Luc Besson,
and Li himself that the film seldom does what is expected but
never seems overly ridiculous.
What's more, it still manages to deliver moments of balletic
action to rival the best in the genre, thanks to the presence
of Matrix choreographer, Yuen Wo Ping, and Li himself.
The result is something quite extraordinary - a martial arts
movie with heart that isn't afraid to mix brawn with brains.
Read our review of the Massive Attack soundtrack
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