Publicity Stills of "Unleashed"
(Courtesy from Festive Films)

Genre: Drama/Action
Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Jet Li, Morgan Freeman, Bob Hoskins, Kerry Condon, Vincent Regan, Tamer Hassan, Dylan Brown
RunTime: 1 hr 40 mins
Released By: Festive Films & Shaw
Rating: PG

Released Date: 2 June 2005


Ever since Bart tore Danny from the streets, at the age of 4 years old, he had treated Danny shabbily, training him literally to attack. Today, Danny is his secret weapon, capable of attacking anyone as soon as he’s ordered to, without leaving his target the slightest chance of survival.

Cut off from the world, Danny has no other choice than to accept this beastly existence, until the day when by accident, he meets Sam, a blind man who makes his living as a piano tuner. Sam and his stepdaughter, Victoria, introduce Danny to humanity that he has never known and was even prohibited to him until now. His entire perception of life as he knows was thus, shaken to the core.

Now, up against Bart and his gang who would rather see him dead than liberated, Danny will try to become himself finally and to penetrate into the secrets of his past.

To escape his condition, Danny will have to break away while still protecting those who now constitute his family. This will be his last fight, by far the most dangerous…

Movie Review:

Marketed as “The Long Awaited Jet Li’s Action Masterpiece,” Unleashed fails to live up to its expectations. Luc Besson could have taken a longer time in making it; truly, a far cry from what one would deem a masterpiece.

Danny (Jet Li) is a boy trapped in a man’s body, searching for love. Taken in by Uncle Bart (Bob Hoskins) at a young age, Danny has been trained (and that’s putting it gently) to serve his master’s bidding. Controlled by a collar, Uncle Bart holds the power to unleash Danny to whomever stands in his way, and in turn, the latter has the ability to kill anyone who does such. Forced to live in the confines of an underground cage, his life is a bitter plight of moral degradation. But, a twist of fate changes Danny’s life and he finds comfort in the form of a blind piano tuner, Sam (Morgan Freeman) and his step-daughter, Victoria (Kerry Condon). Both of them welcome him into the family, treating him like one and they teach him the finer aspects of life; cooking, shopping and playing a piano. As Danny discovers love, a family and how sweet a kiss can be, his past returns to haunt him and he is forced to make a decision that could make or break his future.

Jet Li does what he does best when it comes to the action sequences. While these scenes would register on the high notes of a piano scale, the same cannot be said for his dramatic acting. The guy puts in the effort though, trying to fulfill a wide-eyed puppy-like wonderment while trying to bare and grit his teeth through Yuen Wo Ping’s choreography. Sadly, Yuen’s action sequences are pretty much lackluster as compared to his work on memorable movies like The Matrix Trilogy and Kill Bill Volume 2.

Screen veteran, Bob Hoskins, an actor of great versatility plays his most nefarious character yet as Uncle Bart who just happens to reek of viciousness. In all honesty, Uncle Bart would fit right at home in a Guy Ritchie movie, lock, stock and all. He epitomizes the son of a gun who would perch on Danny’s left shoulder, spouting venom at every opportunity. Meanwhile, Sam, the blind piano tuner played by Academy Award winning actor, Morgan Freeman, brings a balance to the equation by being a real father figure to Danny and his step-daughter Victoria who shows Danny the innocence of love; his angels. Morgan Freeman’s Sam will remind one of his award winning turn in Million Dollar Baby, the wise and witty character with an old school charm.

The film has moments which urge the audience to reflect upon moral values of love and family while trying to deal with issues of humanity. What right does one have to control another person’s life when God created us as equals who walk on his Earth? The question is not answered though, as it remains an enigma, just like the film.

Unleashed has learnt from the onslaught of recent action movies that sometimes it pays to be different. Too much action becomes overkill, so, Unleashed is fitted with an emotional core. However, in a fusion of fast-paced action and tender old-fashioned drama, the result is a rigid and choppy product that made the film unnerving. It just goes to show that an old dog cannot be taught new tricks after all.

Movie Rating:

Review by Mohamad Shaifulbahri

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