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.
It has been considered that the film is a loose remake of the Kurt Russell film Soldier (1998). The film is about an emotionless futuristic combat soldier who was stolen at birth and trained to fight and kill, who is dumped and left to die on a garbage planet and lives among the survivors of a crashed spaceship and he sets out to defend his new home and his new family, when genetic engineered soldiers are ordered to kill the survivors and destroy the colony. This film is about a man who was enslaved as a child by his loan shark master and raised and trained as a fighter, who lives with his new family, a blind piano turner and his adopted daughter, when he is wounded in a ambush and he sets out to protect his new family and his new home, when his master sends his armed thugs after him. See more »
Towards the beginning of the movie, as Bart is making his visits, the camera shoots a low angle of Bart removing Danny's collar. There is a sign on the building above them; the sign is backwards, indicating the film was flipped from the original shoot angle. 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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