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Unleashed – Review


Danny (Li) has been brought up by gangster Bart (Hoskins) not as a son, but as a pet: like a violent dog who’ll rip apart anyone who defaults on a debt.
After one of his martial arts displays, a victim seeks revenge, spraying Bart’s car with bullets. Only Danny escapes.
He’s taken in by a kindly blind piano tuner (Freeman) and his step-daughter. But just as he’s rebuilding a life with dignity, his past catches up with him.


It seems somewhat fitting that a film about a “human” dog has been made by a director called Leterrier. It seems equally fitting that it turns out to be a bit of a dog’s dinner.
Why is the most talented musician in the US studying in Scotland? And why is the only clue that we’re even IN Scotland one random mention of Glasgow during a shopping trip? None of the cast is Scottish. We don’t see any Scottish landmarks. Why Scotland?
The characters are all stereotypes: the kindly, “all-seeing” blind piano-tuner, his nerdy but musical step-daughter, the ruthless gangster, and the innocent and put-upon kung-fu hero – extremely violent, but with a heart.
It’s little more than an excuse for Bob Hoskins to play hard and for Jet Li to play even harder – a feeble and predictable plot used to join the dots before a few admittedly impressive fight sequences. (It’s reminiscent of Jackie Chan’s early Hong Kong films, but without the humour.) But what do you expect when the first credit to appear on-screen at the end of the film is the martial arts choreographer?!
The fight scenes are too violent for people who like a nice drama – the drama is too formulaic for anyone who likes a good story – the story is too weak for anyone who likes violence.
You’ll want to be unleashed so you can flee the cinema as early as possible.

opens nationwide 19 August 2005

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