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.
Unleashed is the touching story of Danny (Jet Li) who as a young boy was brought harshly by a loanshark (Bob Hoskins) and was trained to kill once his dog collar is removed. Although Danny was brought up as a dog, he is human, and through the intervention of music and the care and love of a blind piano tuner (Morgan Freeman), and his stepdaughter (Kerry Condon), Danny discovers another side of life.
Unleashed is not an action movie. There certainly are some spectacular fight scenes, but the emphasis is put on the relationship between Morgan Freeman and his stepdaughter, and Jet Li, and on the development of Danny's "humanity". Danny yearns for more than just killing; he discovers music and is saved by it. Music also plays a key role in his self-discovery as it awakens long-lost memories of his childhood.
For the first time, the audience are treated to Jet Li's true acting capabilities. Jet Li seems genuine and earnest--perhaps this is because the actor openly acknowledges that this film is close to his heart: as a Buddhist, Jet Li is against violence, and this film portrays the fight between humanity and violence.
This drama is a surprising break from usual martial arts movies. The fact that the number of action scenes is limited is counter-balanced by Yuen Wo Ping's masterful choreography; do not expect a fight-fest. Do however expect an unpretentious touching story featuring good actors with a few spectacular action scenes.
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