Analog Thoughts on a Digital Age

Friday, June 03, 2005

Movie Review: "Unleashed" (2005)

That's what you get for stopping a man who hasn't taken a shower for more than a year!

Those who have been following my blog know how long I have been drooling for this movie. Unfortunately on opening day I was under a personal crisis and had to stay away from society and hide in the mountains to commune with my inner self and could not blog nor watch a movie. It sucks make a film review while your whole world is crashing in.
Anyway's I'm ok now and ready to go on with my digital life. But enough of my issues! lets geton to business.

crappy American release posterDanny is a dog. Or at least he is treated like one by his owner Bart (Bob Hoskins). He is fed like one, kept like one and used for moneymaking (or grabbing) purposes as if he were a doberman on caffeine. He has on a collar that when taken off by his master serves as a stimulus indicator for him to 'unleash' his fury and kick major British tail. Then again, Danny is also a person--with fellings and dreams.
Danny's life takes an unexpected turn when his master gets into a 'run in' with his enemies and Danny is left to fend for himself. Like a dog without a master he is helpless and hungry, and like a hungry stray he is kept in by very unlikely but kind hearted Sam (Morgan Freeman), a blind piano tuner, and his pretty white stepdaughter Victoria (Kerry Condon), who treat him as family and help him unravel his past and unlearn his savage ways which are kept at bay by his eponymous collar. One day they ask him to remove the collar...

Nice huh? I like writing synopses like that. It relaxes me.

Needless to say, I do like the movie.

gangsta love, London styleThere are some things that Jet Li can do. Some we know, like making a triple flip kick land on a big burly guy's face and have time to spare to karate chop the other goon's shins. Some we don't, like actually doing some convincing acting. Apparently Li underwent serious acting coaching for Unleashed and even spent the night sleeping in a soundstudio to give him a feel of how it's like to be 'stored' instead of 'kept'. Li may not be a Sean Penn, but he does enough to do the job. Minimal speaking roles helps too since he is not a very good English speaker, and it kind of establishes him as an uneducated killing machine.
Bob Hoskins is particulary deliciously evil as Bart, the deceiving master of Danny. Thanks to him, the film has established a Snatch-type feel to it and fits perfectly in the same genre as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Layer Cake.
The fight scenes are particularly crude and primal compared to Yuen Wu-Ping 's usual fluid martial arts choreography. Here we see Li pounding on a goon like a mallet on meat Fight Club Style, pulling hair, and shattering shoulders with a sledge hammer. Not exactly Shaolin Kung Fu stuff. Since this is not, in the strictest sense of the word, a martial arts film,it works well in the vein of the british gangster flicks like Lock, Stock... and Layer Cake, only with cooler fighting sequences.
Why are you staring at me? Aren't you supposed to be blind?Luc Besson has written and directed some of the best action movies around like The Fifth Element, Le Femme Nikita, The Transporter and his masterpiece Leon: The Professional. Unleashed may not be a Leon, but it definitely keeps Besson up there a s one of the most creative action genre writers we have.

Dont miss this one. Its got more kicks than a mule being led to the slaughter, and its not just Jet Li.

I still prefer the European release title Danny the Dog. Apparently, American Movie executives think that the title sounded a little too "kiddy" and that parents might mistakenly take their precious little angels to an R13 gangster flick complete with bone-breaking and head smashing scenes. What do you think?

Click on the poster to access the original french website.

cool European poster


Blogger Alexa said...

My friend took me to see this last weekend. I thought it was okay (not my style), but Bob Hoskins was fabulous. He really turned in a great performance.

5:17 AM

Blogger drei said...

i had premiere tickets for this but i didn't even care to watch it. should've given it to you. ;)

8:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, remember the flashback that Danny had about his mother's murder? There was a part wherein the camera focused on the ring that the killer was wearing. I thought the ring was something of significance. I thought Danny would see the ring on his Uncle's hand and would thus serve as a trigger for him to go berserk and avenge his mother's death.

It was never shown again.

It was like they shot that scene and forgot all about it.


4:01 AM


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