Dickensian sentiment meets head-pummelling martial arts action in this gleefully absurd concoction from writer-producer Luc Besson. Jet Li's scary destructive powers are soon in evidence as he beats sundry low-lifes to a powder whenever his Glasgow crime-lord master Bob Hoskins unhooks his studded collar and lets him off the leash. He is, in effect, a human pit-bull, an orphan trained since infancy to inflict pain without reason. Until, that is, circumstances separate him from his ‘owner’ and he’s given shelter by blind piano-tuner Morgan Freeman. Might the tinkling of the ivories soothe this savage beast and reclaim his humanity? Yes, ‘Unleashed’ sounds beyond parody, yet somehow it neither takes itself too seriously nor makes fun of the material. While the kinetic direction and Li’s lightning-fast reflexes deliver suitably crunching fight sequences, the leading man also touchingly suggests the innocent child beneath his fearsome exterior, in a performance which stands comparison with the surprisingly alert work of his illustrious co-stars. And it’s hard not to have a soft spot for a movie which balances axe-swinging, bone-snapping mayhem with a key role for a classical piano repertoire.
|Release date:||Friday August 19 2005|
Cast and crew