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Unleashed (Combo HD DVD and Standard DVD) (Sous-titres français) [Import]
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Unleashed (Combo HD DVD and Standard DVD)
Luc Besson wrote and directed the stylish thrillers La Femme Nikita and The Professional; though he didn't direct Unleashed, the script has his trademark fusion of outrageous sentimentality and over-the-top violence. Hong Kong action superstar Jet Li (Romeo Must Die, Hero) stars as Danny, a man raised to be a brutal attack dog by a nasty gangster named Bart (Bob Hoskins, Mona Lisa)--when Bart removes Danny's collar, Danny pulverizes everyone in the room. But a chance encounter with a blind piano tuner (Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby) reveals to Danny the possibility of a less brutal life, and when a retaliation attack gives him the chance to escape, he does--but Bart won't let him go that easily. The fighting in Unleashed is effectively jolting; Li and fight choreographer Yuen Wo Ping (The Matrix) have purposefully stripped away the smoothness of most movie combat (especially with a genuine martial artist like Li) with raw, unnerving results, especially when juxtaposed with the sweet and earnest scenes of Li regaining his humanity with Freeman and his step-daughter (Kerry Condon). This freewheeling cocktail of bloody noses and ice-cream cones isn't for everyone, but fans of both Besson and Li will leave satisfied. --Bret Fetzer --This text refers to the DVD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
What can I say? Martial artist Jet Li can sure grapple well with his bare hands as a gifted fighter. He has incredible movements that are graceful and lightning fast Jackie Chan style! I could almost hardly keep up with the hand and foot work going on! The man seriously packs a punch!
Unleashed furthermore touches on the subject of piano music as it's secondary topic. There's lovely classical music, with a piece by Mozart, and a little groovy jazz being played. Quite an interesting musical blend! The movie's near bittersweet ending will unmistakably melt your heart away. I can get very sentimental myself.
which describes how Danny (Jet Li) is treated and acts.
This is Jet Li at his best acting wise and the fight
scenes are great.
Bob Hoskins is great as Danny's keeper and tormentor.
Morgan Freeman shines as always.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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.
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