Two men cut off from the world in different ways become unlikely friends and protectors in this offbeat action drama. Danny (Jet Li) is a physically powerful but emotionally stunted man; never given any sort of proper education, Danny has learned little in his lifetime but how to fight, and his minder, Bart (Bob Hoskins), treats him more like a guard dog than anything else, using him in illegal no-holds-barred brawls that earn Bart plenty of money but only reinforce Danny's violent alienation. When Bart is injured in an auto accident, Danny is left to fend for himself, and stumbles upon Sam (Morgan Freeman), an elderly piano tuner who has lost his sight. Sam is the first person to treat Danny with kindness, and the music he plays soothes the troubled soul of the fighter. However, Danny's fighting skills soon come in handy when Sam runs afoul of a pack of small-time crooks who believe he knows too much about their operations.
The film was originally going to be called Danny the Dog before being changed to Unleashed. The original name can still be seen in the opening and closing credits as the name of one of the production companies. It's also the French working title. The Glasgow shooting crew referred to the film as 'Danny the Fanny'. See more »
During the fight with the bald stranger in the bathroom, the dents in the walls made from punching turn into holes. See more »
The European version is entitled Danny The Dog and includes some more scenes including more character development between Freeman and Li and a different title sequence. It also includes a slightly different ending, one which ends on Danny's face. See more »
For a martial arts picture, "Unleashed" was above average because it had some heart and soul to it.....not just people beating the crap out of one another for two straight hours.
However, be wary of those who claim this isn't an action film. That's not true: there is a lot of action, quite a bit of brutality and profanity, mostly by Bob Hoskins' character "Bart" in this movie. Hoskins plays profane, nasty slave-owner who has locked up and trained "Danny" (Jet Li) to be the ultimate fighting machine. Once Danny is "unleashed" (literally) he's a killer and helps the gangster Bart in his criminal work.
Then, in a moment of further greed, Hoskins agrees to enter his man in a death match with a lot of money at stake. That match turns out to be a farce with Danny winning in a matter of seconds. The other promoter wants a rematch, and with more entertainment. In the meantime, however, Danny escapes his captors and winds up at the house of an older blind American, "Sam," played by Morgan Freeman. He and his 18-year-old daughter "Natalie" (Kelly Condon) befriend young Danny, slowly bringing him out of his "animal" state. Everyone discovers Danny has some very human characteristics and is basically a nice, gentle guy. The family helps uncover that through music (piano playing, to be exact). These are all touching scenes.
But then - and this is almost a cliché in these kind of films - the bad guy comes back, snatches him away and his former bad life comes back....except Danny is a changed man. How he can get out of this latest predicament and what happens to this new "adopted" family, takes up the rest of the story. That last part has the same thing: ultra-violent and touching scenes.
Jet Li does an excellent job in here, not only displaying his amazing physical talents but also showing us he has warmth in his face and heart.
Overall: a brutal, yet touching film: an odd combination.
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