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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Raw and Brutal, but wait...a sad drama as well.Sept. 9 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
If you go beyond Amazon's reviews, you'll find the majority of the public and the "critics" giving Unleashed above par to high rankings. I read a bulk of critic reviews and was amazed to find all of them actually enjoying aspects, if not the entire movie. Well, the movie does speak for itself.
Danny (Jet) is raised similar to an abused dog by Bart (Hoskins) somewhere in Scotland. Danny basically lives in a cage with a few possessions: punching bag, blanket, A-B-C book, and a stuffed animal. He knows no social skills, only to obey Bart. His world changes when he comes in contact with a piano which triggers some memory. Eventually, the piano links Danny to Morgan Freeman's character. This is where the movie shifts gears and we get to witness Jet Li's best performance in an English dialogue movie. Without giving too much away, you literally watch Danny's new life unfold as he discovers humanity; tasting ice-cream, going to the supermarket, wearing pajamas, etc. There is actually sweet humor due to the innocence played by Jet.
There is so much complaints about how children are being desensitized to violence; However, Unleashed just may resensitize one. I'm not recommending parents to allow their children to watch this, because it isn't even close to being suitable for them. What I mean is this movie shows us how violence is definitely not the answer and I actually found myself rooting for Danny(Jet)to no longer fight. You want him to just take all what he has learned in the months he has spent w/ his new family (there also is a 18 yr. old daughter in the mix) and apply it to the situations. Well, he does try, but ... it is a Jet Li movie and therefore it will have Jet Li action.
The fights are pretty brutal and harsh. There is no sweet wushu fluidness that Jet has so often displayed in the past. He basically goes ape nuts while applying some martial arts. This movie displays the 2nd most punishment fighting scenes I've witnessed; still a far cry from what you can view in "Ong Bak."
Having said all that, we all know Morgan Freeman can act, Bob Hoskins (who is normally connected to Roger Rabbit and Super Mario Brothers) does a fantastic job as a cruel slime, but surprising is Jet Li. He may have few lines, which fits his character's mentality, but he sure does make it up with body posture and well trained eyes. If you ever felt sorry for a broken down dog being abused and neglected then you'll truly be able to identify with Jet Li's portrayal. If he wasn't considered an action star...he would win an oscar.
P.S. There were a few sniffles in the audience at the end. I heard the European version, "Danny the Dog," has a little different ending...w/ tears.
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Great Action FilmSept. 16 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
If you love Jet Li and his incredible acrobatic martial art skills, then this one is for you. Being an English speaking picture they had to work around Jet's limited English. The story however is perfect for that. Jet is a killing machine that has literally been raised like a dog by a cruel master who uses him to enforce his extortion racket as well as using him to fight in an illegal combat arena where victory only comes with your opponents death. Li escapes his lifelong captures and takes up with a blind piano tuner(Morgan Freeman) and his daughter who teach him that there is something more to life than killing. But of course his former master wants him back and all hell breaks lose. This is a great action picture with a pretty good story if you suspend a little belief. For example there are no police around despite daylight street fights and gun battles, and no one ever questions why a rag tag Jet Li is walking around with a dog collar on. But don't let that ruin a good picture for you.
70 of 81 people found the following review helpful
A good action flick, but...Aug. 5 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
This was a very good action flick. Decent storyline, fast paced. Easily one of Jet Li's best performances, with excellent support from Morgan Freeman. There is a good bit of humor as "Danny" becomes acclimated to living as a normal human being.
However, this film is BRUTALLY VIOLENT! The fight scenes are not your typical martial arts kicking and punching. Danny breaks bones, breaks necks, rips people apart and the sound effects can be disturbing. The R-rated version was definitely not for the under-sixteen crowd, and I'm sure the unrated cut will be even more so. Cautiously recommended.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Danny the Dog (Unleashed) (Blu-ray)Sept. 19 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Movie - 4.5
Been a while since I'd seen this movie. I used to own in on DVD and saw it something like 3 times before selling it to make room for the transition to Blu-ray. It took a while, but it's good to finally see this title on BD. And after so many years, I have to say I actually like it a lot more now than I did initially. Danny the Dog (aka Unleashed in the U.S.) is the story of Danny (Jet Li), a poor soul raised from childhood as a human attack dog that does the dirty work of small-time Glasgow kingpin, Bart (Bob Hoskins). Danny is literally treated like a dog given a collar to wear 24/7, is fed food from a can, and lives a pretty desolate life as nothing more than a mere animal. But one day, Danny befriends a blind piano tuner named Sam (Morgan Freeman) who, through a stint of piano tuning, manages to elicit some of Danny's human side, if but for a few minutes. Then, when an accident injures Danny and sets him free from the grips of his cruel master, he seeks out Sam, who accepts him with open arms and offers to care for him with the help of his stepdaughter, Victoria (Kerry Condon). And in their time together, the two manage to re-humanize Danny and salvage his broken spirit from the dark depths of violence and emotional turmoil. This couldn't have been a more perfect role for Li. As apparent by his other Hollywood films, while he does show some actual acting prowess (though more so in his Chinese work) from time to time, the language barrier has always been his weak point. And what better a way to utilize his not-so-good English than with a character that's more about movement (which Li is a master technician of from all that wushu) and less about dialogue? Throw in the opposing fatherly-forces in Hoskins and Freeman (who play outstanding contrasts to one another) and some cutesy lighthearted bonding moments with Condon, and you've got a fairly gripping story. Needless to say, it's also a Jet Li movie choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping, and the action is absolutely brutal when you get down to it. But what surprises me the most is how the entire film manages to be not just an entertaining romp, but also a touching tale and character drama. This is easily Louis Leterrier's best film to date with a little help from his mentor, Luc Besson, in the writing department, and soon-to-be director, but current DP, Pierre Morel. In fact, speaking of Besson, I'd even go so far as to say Danny the Dog was this decade's Leon, albeit a tad less developed, but excellently portrayed, nonetheless.
Video - 4.5
It's been too long for me to remember what this looked like on DVD, but thankfully the extras are in SD, which is enough to remind me of the difference in quality. That being said, Pierre Morel's photography looks excellent. With Leterrier wanting to achieve a film noir-look, colors aren't particularly vibrant. In fact, just about any scene outside of Danny's bonding moments with Sam or Victoria are very cold, drab, and opaque. There are lots of blues, whites, grays, and charcoals used in a majority of the gangster life sequences when we see Danny living as a dog. From his dirty clothes to the grimy streets of Glasgow, the production design gives off a depressing quality befitting of the life Danny has lead to that point. Contrast is also slightly more desaturated in these scenes, though black levels are maintained very well throughout. During the happier times in Sam's apartment or in the various other non-criminal locales, hues are much fuller and create a sense of warmth to counteract the coldness of the former. Contrast and saturation feel more natural making flesh tones appear very lifelike and just a lot more pleasant to the eye. Image detail is actually a lot sharper than I remember and especially in comparison to some of the SD shots from the extras giving the visual presentation a nice sense of depth and HD pop. For instance, you can see all the little indentations of the food at the supermarket, the lining of Victoria's braces, or the fuzzy textures on Danny's teddy bear. The film also possesses a fine layer of film grain to keep the picture feeling gritty, and there appear to be no signs of DNR. There are some instances of Edge Enhancement and some scenes of the movie are a bit nosier than others (like the really, really dark scenes), and there are occasions of dirt and debris popping up here and there, but overall I'm very satisfied with the quality of the picture, especially in comparison to those SD shots from the DVD port. I think all the various color schemes, filters, and whatever other methods they used to portray the different outlooks of Danny's life are a great way of compliment and contrast for another.
Audio - 5.0
In addition to an excellent video transfer, Universal also outputs a booming and reference-level audio experience. The DTS-HD track has quite a bit of rumble to it. LFEs are the most prominent feature making their mark through the pounding bass of the music and various low end sound effects (like dramatic whirring and such). Dialogue is crisp and clear from the center with no distortion or dropout problems, while a majority of the sound effects are not quite front-heavy per say, but slightly more towards the front as a result of the sound design. It's not until guns start blazing that the rears get their fair share of noise distribution, which for all intents and purposes sound awesome because there really aren't that many sequences of it till around the end of the movie. But being most notably a martial arts-centric film, a majority of the effects come from the frequent punching, kicking, whacking, and body thuds. Again, much like the gunplay, there's not an incredible amount of the stuff, but when the violence starts, you can really hear and feel it. I was very happy to feel the thumps and wuds emanating from the sub-woofer and wouldn't expect anything less from this genre. The music by Neil Davidge and Massive Attack give the film a great balance of upbeat ambience for the action and slow, mellow piano/orchestral pieces for character development. Again, directionality and separation don't do a whole lot and are more sporadic in the first and second acts of the film, but immersion is excellent when the fighting ensues. Obviously, the best parts you could use for reference are Danny's fight in the arena and his battle against that bald-headed, wannabe Shaolin monk white guy (never liked his look, but he did a pretty good job keeping up with Li). The arena fight has a lot of sound immersion from the crowd and music with some great body hits and weapon clash effects. And the white guy battle is reference brutality, when they start fighting in the toilet room and literally beat the crap out of each other I can't help but find that scene violently beautiful. The clarity of the smacking of fist on head, fist to body, then foot to head are quite rousing.
Extras - 2.0
While everything else about this disc is great, the extras are very underwhelming and a bit of a disappointment. First, there's a 5-minute clip of Leterrier talking about the film where he basically gives the premise, tells a little bit about the kind of picture he wanted to make, all the star power involved, and how great it was to work with all of them. It's very short and not a bad watch, but an audio commentary would've been nicer. Then there's the feature "Serve No Master," which basically shows the fight choreography for the scene in the arena with some snippets of commentary from Li rounding out to about 10 minutes. Most of it is the fight itself taken straight from the movie with a little bit of P-i-P comparisons from the filming. This one is pretty skipable. Next, there's "The Collar Comes Off," which is a little bit more in-depth about the overall filming and writing. It recycles most, if not all of the commentary and interviews from Serve No Master, though does have some input from Freeman, and a little more from Hoskins. This feature is about 12 minutes long, but again is severely lacking in depth. And lastly, there are a couple of music videos featuring the music of Massive Attack and The RZA. Altogether these videos are about 4 minutes total and are nothing more than highlight reels of the fight scenes. The extras aren't shabby, but they're not that interesting either. Oh well, better than nothing.
Overall - 4.0
Danny the Dog is probably my favorite non-Chinese Jet Li film to date (although I'm not really sure which side I'd put The Forbidden Kingdom on, it's Hollywood-made, but for the most part was made in China..). It's a riveting story about an unfortunate person who came to live a sad life, but was saved from it with a little bit of kindness and lotta' bit of martial arts to take his pursuers out. Ever since Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon set a new standard for me in terms of wushu/wuxia movies with a story, I've found some pretty good gems since then in Hero, Danny the Dog, Huo Yuan Jia (aka Fearless), and maybe even Chi Bi (aka Red Cliff) if I ever get around to watching part II. But I definitely can say is this another one of the greats. With excellent video and reference audio (though a disappointing amount of extras), Danny the Dog (or Unleashed, or whatever you're used to calling it) comes highly recommended.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4 1/2 really, because perfection is an impossibilityFeb. 5 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
ugh, you people who are giving bad reviews to this movie with such childish and unsympathetic and narrow-minded reasons make me sick. you're all the typical "mindless violence, no emotion" movie-goers. how about you try to be a little empathic for once in your lives? you think that entertainment should just be non-stop action with no human emotion or thought. well, i have news for you: deep emotion and understanding is what makes you, me, and all the world human. so maybe the next time you watch this movie you should be a little more open-minded and caring about the human condition and the effects of such extreme circumstances. and there actually have been extreme cases where young children have been raised as dogs... by dogs. children who act just as any stray dog might. even, literally, growling and barking, without the ability to speak. so, you see, it's not so far-fetched as you so many of you seem to think. the human mind is flexible and multi-tiered, which is what this movie is trying to portray. but you obviously didn't understand the movie or Jet Li's character, saying that he changes in the blink of an eye. which, to even the casually intelligent and perceptive observer, is quite untrue. from the very beginning of the movie i could see that deep down Danny did not want to be what he was. he always had that desire for something more (emotionally) and at the same time, something less bellicose and noisome. he had this readily evident passion and inclination for music, apparent due to his fascination with the pianos in the antiques shop basement. music was his soft side, his human side; and it's what he yearned for at all times until his collar was taken off. then his base, violent animal side took over his whole self. and he became the killer dog he was trained to be. so when Sam came into his life and brought with him the music that he craved so much it *brought out* his soft, human side. it wasn't just magically there and it wasn't an instant transformation either. seeing as how he beats and kills a few more guys after that before he really becomes human again. and even after he regains his humanity he beats the hell out of a bunch of guys. if you watch the behind the scenes, Morgan Freeman speaks of the "juxtaposition of the violence and non-violence." and it is this theme, of the truly violent but at the same time loving and kind nature that exists within all of us, that i think attracted Freeman to this film. and in my opinion this juxtaposition is beautifully done. i love movies and stories where human nature is pushed to such extremes, especially when they're filled with such love and compassion, and such anger and violence; such opposing emotions that co-mingle and blend and fight one another and then ultimately co-exist to form, not a well-rounded individual, but more of a bumpy elliptical human being. because who in all the world is truly well-rounded? we all have our ups and our downs and our shadow-selves that must be delt with. so please view this movie as what it is: a tour through the human soul. and not what it definitely isn't: your merely typical, mindless "feux-uber-American/British-Kung Fu" movie entertainment. but i agree, it did end a bit abruptly. (not as abruptly, though, as The Goblet of Fire) and i would've liked to see a little more development and delving of Danny's life and hardships and personality before he met Sam and his daughter. but i understand that movies have time constraints and budgets so i'll forgive them. i also think there was some wonderful acting in this movie. Morgan Freeman was great, of course. (even though his character did seem like a Ray Charles wannabe, as previously stated, but that wasn't his fault) Jet Li, in my opinion, was absolutely magnificent. this is the most (and best) *acting* i've ever seen him do. he wonderfully portrayed a stray dog in human form, living with new, unknown people who are family, *not* owners. he was shy, skiddish, terrified, and warm and eager for knowledge and new things all in the right places and with remarkably convincing acting. i haven't seen a lot of his movies, but i've seen a few. and this has to be one of his best. one random thing: to the person who spoke poorly of the fact that the daughter accepted him right off even though he acted like a thief who's just been caught. if you had paid attention it was mentioned that Danny had been there unconscious for two days. meaning that she would have already known he was there and Sam definitely would have described what kind of person he was. so she knew what to expect, really, when she first came into contact with him. Bob Hoskins also did a wonderful job as your quintessential slimy, evil petty thug Boss. a man who's in the lower-middle ranks of the organized crime world and trying to scrape his way higher. and to all of you who say you didn't like the martial arts in the movie. well, that's because there isn't really any martial arts. because as Danny is essentially a dog, he essentially fights like a dog: savage and brutal and unorganized, attacking whoever is closest first and sticking with them (for the most part) until they're out of the fight, then switching his focus to the next closest opponent. overall, i found this to be a marvelously enjoyable film and will be recommending it to all my movie enthusiast friends and family. i am liking ROGUE Pictures very much after Shaun of the Dead and Unleashed. thank you to all who read this whole thing and kindly listen to what i have to say.