Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Premise: A man raised to behave like an attack dog (Jet Li) escapes his brutal loan shark master (Bob Hoskins) and starts a new life with a blind piano tuner (Morgan Freeman).
What Works: This is one of Jet Li’s best films. The story is really engaging, intellectually and emotionally, in ways that elevate it above the average action film. Jet Li demonstrates that he has acting talent in his role as Danny, a man arrested in an early stage of intellectual development. He is able to simultaneously engage in brutal acts of violence and convey Danny’s naivety. This is the strength of the film; its violence is not prurient and although it is exciting, it is also used for character development. Bob Hoskins’ gives a great, menacing performance. His voice and violence creates an air of threat without resorting to over the top violence.
What Doesn’t: Although Morgan Freeman does well in the film, he has become stereotyped in this kind of role. The character does fit and he is effective in it, but there is a sense that we have seen this before in other movies.
Bottom Line: Unleashed is great action film in the vein of First Blood. It has more going on in it than simple bloodshed and its human story elevates it above other entries in the genre.
Episode: #81 (January 15, 2006)