Movie Reviews 138 – Unleashed (2005)

UnleashedUnleashed is a rare gem of a martial arts movie in that it isn’t all just grunts and action scenes. Instead it vacillates between the violence, sweaty fighting, gangster action scenes and an almost Disneylike picturesque family movie. That is until those two worlds collide. Caught in the middle is Danny (Jet LI).

Danny was taken in by mobster Bart (Bob Hoskins) as a youngster and trained as one would a guard dog to fight on command. When not fighting he lives in a semi-catatonic world of his own, forever kept on a leash and a prisoner in more than just the physical sense. Danny’s world changes after an accidental encounter with Sam (Morgan Freeman), a blind piano tuner who takes him in when Danny manages to escape after an attack on Bart and the rest of his thugs. Sam brings Danny home, where he and his daughter Victoria (Kerry Condon) slowly coax Danny out his shell.

But Bart eventually finds Danny again and tries to cage him again and return him to the underground fighting ring. Danny’s re-abduction by Bart also leave a vacuum in Sam and Victoria’s world as they are unsure if he left voluntarily to return to whatever mysterious life he had before they took him in.

The acting is great from the entire cast with Li putting a credible and serious performance way beyond his usual fight drive roles. Hoskins is an absolutely loathsome mob boss without any morals. But the real credit goes to Freeman and Condon for their idyllic family that not only take Danny in but make him part of their family.

And don’t think that because there is a sombre side to the movie that it skips out on the action either. There is plenty of that whenever Danny finds himself in Bart’s hands. This movie really does deliver on both accounts.

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