Fighting Like a Dog to Find His Family
Release Date: May 13, 2005
Starring: Jet Li, Morgan Freeman, Bob
Hoskins, and Kerry Condon
Genre: Martial Arts Action
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Rating: R for strong violent content,
language and some
Runtime: 99 minutes
Distributor: Focus Features
Director: Louis Leterrier
Executive Producer: N/A
Producer: Luc Besson, Steve Chasman, and
Writer: Luc Besson
Address Comments To:Mark Ordesky, President
Fine Line Features
Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne
New Line Cinema
116 North Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: (310) 854-5811
Fax: (310) 854-1453
Web Page: www.flf.com
As Danny ages, he develops a strong curiosity about the world outside his cage, and by chance meets a blind piano tuner, Sam, played by Morgan Freeman. Sam takes Danny into his home, and Sam and his daughter Victoria teach Danny what it truly means to be human, including important lessons on family and devotion. Eventually, of course, the loan shark comes looking for Danny, and a battle emerges between Sam’s familial love and the loan shark’s brute force.
Frankly, the plot turns and dialogue in UNLEASHED are senseless. The movie is sentimental beyond all rational boundaries – few men, for instance, would bring a bleeding street fighter, who they found in the basement of an antiques store, home for their teenaged daughters to nurse. The movie’s idea to sandwich kung-fu death matches with ersatz family drama is strange enough, but then to have Danny’s character raised as a dog puts the story way over the top. If the dog collar is symbolic, then it is too labored and doesn’t flow with the rest of the story. If the dog collar is not symbolic but just an attempt at making an original story, then it serves little purpose and is a shrill attention-getter.
The fight scenes are bloody and intense but more realistic than the fantastical kung-fu sequences in a movie like KILL BILL. What’s most bothersome in the movie is Bob Hoskins’s character, who seems purely evil. He murders anyone who crosses his path, keeps Danny in a cage, engages in humiliating sex with women, speaks coarsely, and indulges in revenge. Danny’s actions provide an effective counter to this evil, which exposes the loan shark as pathetic and broken.
With some exciting fight sequences and a warmly sentimental conclusion, UNLEASHED is not without some merits. Unnatural storytelling, over-the-top violence and brief female nudity will make it highly unattractive to a general audience, however.
Frankly, the plot turns and dialogue in UNLEASHED are senseless. The movie’s idea to sandwich kung-fu death matches with artificial family drama is strange enough, but then to have Danny’s character raised as a dog puts the story way over the top. Further, the fight scenes are bloody and there is a lot of extremely coarse language, as well as some brief female nudity.