Written by Luc Besson
Directed by Louis Leterrier
Running Time: 1:42
for strong violent content, language
and some sexuality/nudity.
Unleashed was a strong action film and had a decent idea, but the story wasn't well thought out and some of the acting was downright frightening.
Danny has been brought up as an attack dog by a local small time gangster. Flashbacks show how Danny got to the position he's in. He has a chance encounter with a blind piano tuner who shows him that life isn't all made up of bad people. But the people Danny 'works' for, don't want to let him go that easily, and will do whatever it takes to get him back. Danny however, will also do whatever it takes to protect his new family, and enjoy a life of freedom, outside the cage he used to live in.
The first, and most important thing, about Unleashed is the fight scenes. In a lot of martial arts movies, the fights look choreographed. And yes, I realize they have to be, and sometimes you can get some fight scenes that look amazing, with flips and dips and ducking gun shots and whatnot. But the actual punches look faked, and the reactions look even worse. In Unleashed, from the very start, the fight scenes look amazing. I felt complete and raw fury from Jet Li every time he hit someone. No one pulled punches, no one fell down before actually getting hit. Everything was hard and real. And that is easily the best thing about the movie. I wish there were more fight scenes, but the ones that were in it were well worth the price of admission (or rental, as the case may be.) Danny gets into a lot of brutal fights that generally seem to involve many people at once, which always seems to be the case in these kinds of films. Then there's always that one person who is supposed to be unbeatable and he and the lead go at it in the end. The unbeatable guy in this movie shows up late and looks ridiculous but at least he tries. I also liked just how mean spirited his captors were. The main captor, and the one who trained Danny in the first place, was Bart, played by Bob Hoskins. He never showed any remorse for what he did to Danny. No compassion, just plain meanness. I think more bad guys need to be that way.
Then there was the bad side of Unleashed. We got to see in flashback how Danny got to be taken by Bart, but what I would have liked to have seen, just for a minute or so, is how Danny got to be so violent and dog-like. We see him as a kid, then we see him in present day, but nothing in between. To me, that would have been very interesting. How do you take a seemingly well adjusted kid, who wasn't all that young, and turn him into a dog? And a vicious one at that? How does he become so good at martial arts? Who taught him all of that? And Danny sometimes has the mind of a small child, but sometimes grasps very large issues and concepts. There was no even line of what he was and that bothered me. And then there was the girl. Kerry Condon as Victoria, the step-daughter of Morgan Freeman's blind piano tuner. I have no idea how old she was supposed to be in the movie, probably a teenager, but she looked like an SNL skit. Someone really old who they slapped braces on to make younger. I don't know what else she's been in (yes I could look it up but I don't care all that much) but I didn't like her at all. Maybe she's a better actress than this, but honestly, every time she spoke or did anything, I cringed. And Morgan Freeman, as great a talent as he is, kind of phoned in the role. His character didn't have much to do anyway, which is why I figure they made him blind, so at least he could look cool in sunglasses.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I liked Unleashed but I could have used more. The fight scenes were terrific, the concept was good, but a little more backstory would have helped, and better supporting character/actors would have been even better. Still, it's worth at least a rental and if you're a Jet Li fan, worth owning.
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