follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Universal Studios Home Video presents
Unleashed (2005)

"It's like my sainted mum used to say—get 'em young enough, and the possibilities are endless."
- Bart (Bob Hoskins)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: January 18, 2006

Stars: Jet Li
Other Stars: Morgan Freeman, Bob Hoskins, Kerry Condon
Director: Louis Leterrier

MPAA Rating: R for (martial arts violence, language)
Run Time: 01h:42m:37s
Release Date: October 11, 2005
UPC: 025192879326
Genre: martial arts

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+A-B+ D+

DVD Review

Fearsome martial arts action star Jet Li was imported from the Asian film world lo these many years ago, but something was definitely lost in the translation, considering his string of Hollywood bombs. (From top box-office draw to co-starring with the latest gansta rapper with a jones to be the next Stallone? Not exactly worth the transcontinental flight?) His French seems a little better though; the only two films he's made in the last five years that approach anything beyond mere spectacle are from French writer/producer/apparently no longer a director Luc Besson, who came up with the story for the passable Kiss of the Dragon and wrote Jet's latest, Unleashed, which, wonder of wonders, is actually a pretty great action movie.

Known as Danny the Dog in other markets, Unleashed casts Li as Danny, a human attack dog trained since childhood to follow the commands of small-time crime boss Bart (Bob Hoskins). He wears a metal collar, and whenever it's removed, he turns into a kicking, punching, killing machine. That all changes when Danny escapes and meets a gentle, blind piano tuner (Morgan Freeman) and his adopted daughter (Kerry Condon). The pair reintroduces him to the outside world, but sooner or later, Danny's past is bound to catch up with him.

Yeah, Danny's back story is pretty melodramatic and, when you think about it, illogical (his wonder at the miracle of ice cream, for example, makes little sense), but come on, this is a movie about a guy who has been conditioned to act liked a trained attack dog. We're not exactly operating on our plane of reality here. What matters is, the story works well enough to sustain (and justify) some intense, impressive fight sequences (especially when Bart enters his pet in what's basically a human cockfight), planned out by the by now legendary fight choreographer Yuen Wo Ping, of Matrix Trilogy fame. Everything is done in-camera, minus the influence of wires or CGI, and that reality gives the duels a kinetic feeling of energy, speed, and danger.

Director Louis Leterrier (The Transporter 2), a Besson protégé, lends a gritty, rap-influenced noir atmosphere (helped along the way by a thumping score from hip-hop artists The RZA and Massive Attack). Li gives his best English language performance, handling his character's humor and pathos ably enough (of course, he's as magnetic as always during the fight sequences). Bob Hoskins and Morgan Freeman craft well-rounded characters out of roles lesser actors might have phoned in; Hoskins in particular is menacing, yet oddly endearing. Kerry Condon has less to do as Danny's friend/awkward love interest, but we buy that the shattered man would respond to her kindness.

Unleashed split action fans down the middle, and many thought there wasn't enough action, but as far as I'm concerned, story is key, even in a martial arts movie, and this one is quirky and memorable and far more than the typical filler between flips, uppercuts, and roundhouse kicks.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Universal has provided an appealing transfer for this gritty, stylized film. The image retains the pale blue filters of the theatrical presentation, as well as some intentional grain and digital grading. The image is free of significant edge enhancement and shows good detail and only occasional aliasing.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Presented in both DTS and DD 5.1, Unleashed comes to DVD with two agressive mixes that take advantage of the crushing fight sequences with strong LFE and frequent surround use. The quieter moments sound great, too—dialogue is anchored in the center channel and always clear, and all channels are employed to enhance the score and the atmosphere.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Cry_Wolf
3 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. The RZA and Massive Attack music videos
  2. Extended branching version
Extras Review: Not much in the way of extras here. The "unrated" film isn't actually a different cut, but a branching, extended fight sequence version that allows you to click the remote when an icon appears onscreen and watch a bit of deleted footageónot really that much fun, if you ask me. Director Louis Leterrier: Unleashed (05m:13s) gives a bit of background on the man behind the camera. Serve No Master (09m:58s) focuses on the stunt choreography by master martial artist Yuen Wo Ping. The Collar Comes Off: Behind the Scenes (12m:45s) is a pretty standard talking head making-of. All three featurettes are heavily padded with clips from the film (I'd guess at least half the running time of each, if not more).

Otherwise, there are two music videos, for Atta Boy by Massive Attack and Unleash Me, by The RZA, though each only runs around two minutes, so I doubt these are full songs.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

A pulpy, noir-ish martial arts film with some great action and some surprisingly engaging melodrama, Unleashed is Jet Li's best American film by far.


Back to top

Microsoft Store

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store