Friday, May 13, 2005

Movie Review: Unleashed

Unleashed is not your typical martial arts action movie. Besson has managed to write an unique and interesting story in which the hero Danny (Jet Li) is able to perform some of the most brutal acts on his opponents but yet, at the same time, still garner the audiences sympathy. It's a tightrope act that he manages beautifully.

The action starts right from the opening credits. You are instantly drawn into Danny's world where he is essentially a trained attack dog who is used by his 'Uncle' (Bob Hoskins) to help in his debt collecting work. Even so, you are always able to sense that while Danny may be wreaking havoc on his opponents, he does not really have any vested interest in what happens to them. He does exactly what he has been taught, no more no less.

Once events conspire to allow him to get away from that situation, the second part of Danny's story begins; the re-humanizing. Through his interactions with Morgan Freeman's character and his step daughter, you get to see just how little of a human life Danny has had. This part of the story, as you would expect, is much slower paced that the parts involving Hoskins, but it never gets to the point where you might get restless.

As for the action sequences themselves, they just look amazing. From the choice of cuts to camera angles, director Louis Leterrier does a great job getting you right into the middle of the action. Of course with Yuen Woo-Ping (Crouching Tiger ..., The Matrix, etc..) doing the choreography, it would take a complete amateur to make Li and his fighting partners look bad.

While a bit more action oriented, the story is similar to Besson's earlier (and best) film, Leon (or The Professional if you'd prefer) in that they both deal with trained killers who find themselves out of their element in having to deal with unexpected relationships. While not as good as Leon, overall it is a very well made movie with a great cast with a little something for everyone.

3.5 out of 5


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