This definitely a unique kind of movie for Jet Li and Martial Arts. Jet Li plays Danny, a man who is trained to kill almost like a dog upon command by his ‘uncle’ the gangster and loan shark Bart.
Danny is used to persuade people to pay their debts. When Bart removes the collar from Danny’s neck, he then goes completely nuts viciously attacking who ever Bart tells him to, calming down only when the collar is put back on his neck.
Everything changes when Danny boy meets a Piano Tuner named Sam. After a car crash Danny boy runs off to find Sam and live with him and his step daughter in their home. There he slowly learns to no longer live in fear, and free himself from the violent mentality of his past – when Bart’s thugs discover where he is.
Impressive Acting Performance by Jet Li
Jet Li’s character Danny isn’t just a martial arts guy fighting crims. Danny is a naive, sheltered and controlled man with a savage fighting ability, but with the intelligence and capacity of a small child.
Throughout the movie you see him transform from a wild animal to more of an innocent child learning the ways of the world, and Jet pulls it off with an emotional transformation of character.
The transition from caged monster to living with a happy family is narrated fantastically by Morgan Freeman’s character Sam, who makes certain comments throughout the movie to give some insight into Danny’s psychological state – as well as a some reason behind his actions.
As he experiences ‘normal’ activities like eating Ice Cream or food shopping, you really start to see Danny’s character come to the surface, and let go of his defenses. This movie really shows a man letting go of hatred instilled in him and he eventually decides he no longer wants to hurt people.
The Musical Connection.
The Piano plays a big part in this movie. As he hears Sam tuning the first piano in the movie, Danny is drawn to it. It becomes an activity that helps to bring his character to the surface a bit more, and as they state at the end of the film – the music literally saves his life.
This connection is later identified in the movie as his last memory of his mother playing the Piano. After some investigation they learn that his mother was a brilliant pianist who was murdered by his ‘uncle’ Bart. This brings the theme pretty much full circle as a main story telling device linking his character to the change he goes through.
The Martial Arts & Fights
Jet Li’s fighting style in this movie purely genius in my opinion. Yuen Wo Ping’s choreography is fantastic as he managed to capture Jet’s mastery of Wushu in a savage ‘wild animal’ style that resembles little to no civil thought.
In saying that, all of the martial arts elements are there – the punches, kicks, blocks, flips – everything. The way in which they are performed and shot really give you the sense that these are all moves of instinct and pure animalistic rage as opposed to disciplined training.
Danny doesn’t just attack and defeat people who owe money, but deadly fighters in an underground fighting club (where he encounters a then ‘pre-Boyka’ Scott Adkins). At this point he seems to only defend himself, which interestingly shows him being rather timid, giving you the impression that Danny is reliant on the rage to fight.
Of course he snaps when he realises he may die, and goes totally nuts. From there his fights seem s little more intelligent yet still wild, up until the conclusion of the film.
Would I Recommend it?
This movie has a solid plot and character development combined with top notch martial arts action. It’s a yes in quality across the board. This is no family movie though so don’t show your kids!
Find it On Blu-Ray –
Region A (US & Canada)
Unleashed on Blu-ray
Region B (UK, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, etc)
Unleashed on Blu-ray (Region Free)
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
Unleashed on DVD
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
Unleashed on DVD
Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, etc)
Fearless / Unleashed Double Pack on DVD
Or you can Watch Unleashed Online (US & Canada)