"Unleashed" Blu-ray Movie Review

9/15/2010 Posted by Admin


Blu-ray Movie Review

By Christopher Smith

Luis Leterrier movie, “Unleashed,” is just out on Blu-ray risk, so that's a shame.  It was released in France under the title “Danny the Dog,” which gets right to the point. The movie is a howler.

As directed by Leterrier from a script by Luc Besson, “Unleashed” stars Jet Li as a confused, embattled orphan named Danny who is raised by his brutish Uncle Bart (Bob Hoskins) to be nothing short of a killer dog.

That’s the good news.

When the film was released in 2005, Li was still nimble at 42, still clever behind the kick, still able to twist his body in ways that suggest his limbs are not of this world but of another. Backed by choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping, Li is predictably at his best in “Unleashed” when he’s called upon to fight. His blows are precise, elegant, deadly.

It’s when he’s called upon to act that things get deadlier.

Instead of sticking to what they know and do best, Leterrier (“The Transporter”) and Besson (“La Femme Nikita,” “The Professional”) have stretched themselves thin by trying to move audiences with a story of hard luck and woe.

Essentially, they’ve made an action movie weepy, which sounds every bit as misguided as it is, particularly since neither is exactly a poet when it comes to plumbing one’s tear ducts. After a violent start, the movie sags into marshmallow land with cutesy-pie scenes of awkward character building, the likes of which can be repellingly heartwarming as Li is set adrift within them.

Set in Glasgow, which is shot here in the blues of a corpse, the film follows Danny as he breaks free from his life of crime with Bart and comes to live with an adoptive family--Morgan Freeman’s Sam, a blind piano tuner, and his stepdaughter Victoria (Kerry Condon), who is in Glasgow studying music.
Aware they are dealing with a fragile soul--the metal collar cinched around Danny’s neck is something of a giveaway that all isn’t right with the lad--Sam and Victoria allow him the room he needs to breathe while he sorts out his life.

He won’t have long to do so. Seething in the subplot is Bart, who has worked up a sweat in his ferocious vow to get Danny back regardless of the blood shed and the lives lost. Meanwhile, Danny is a naïf in utopia, flirting with Victoria over ice cream while working to reconnect with the world. What he finds are revelations about his mother (painful), the sort of dialogue that sets the movie on its can (atrocious), and the proper way to thump a melon (helpful).

“Ripe means sweet!” Danny says as he taps a piece of fruit. “And sweet means good!”

If only that were true for the movie, Danny boy. Here, ripe means rot, sweet means cloying, and good doesn’t even come close to describing all that follows. 

Grade: C-

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  1. Anonymous said...

    this is very good for you, ybg :)