Punch, kick, stab, shoot; punch, kick, stab, shoot; punch, kick... Fed-up with the endless spin-cycle of one-note action films? Unleashed sets out to remedy the soulless situation, bolting its whacks, smacks and thwacks to a story of loss, love and redemption. Commendable – but it doesn’t work.
Luc Besson’s incredulous script posits Jet Li as Danny The Dog: shy, unassuming, mute... until Bob Hoskins’ gangland boss lets him off his leash (literally) with the hushed command of, “Kill, Danny, kill.” Pavlovian carnage ensues. Well, until he learns to snuffle at the bowl of humanity under the patient tutelage of blind piano teacher Morgan Freeman.
The decent Making Of confirms that Li relished the chance to at last flex his acting muscles – to do as much with his eyes as his fists – but fails to explain why the action and emotion are segmented, with the warm-hearted midsection top-and-tailed by frenzied fisticuffs. A little more fusion and this could have worked; instead it feels like two movies riveted together.