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Unleashed - Preview

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 action-adventure.

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 life.

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, Bart (Hoskins).

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 insult me'.

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 not there.

Related stories: Read our verdict on the film

Read our review of the Massive Attack soundtrack

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