Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Unleashed (2005) - 7 stars out of 10

Unleashed (2005) - 7 stars out of 10

“Unleashed” blends kung fu and drama into a truly fascinating story.  It contains all of the action that you hope for in a Jet Li film but weaves that action around a worthwhile plot.  Martial arts films have the negative connotation of using a low-quality storyline for the sole purpose of stringing together several fight scenes, but this concept is so interesting that I legitimately like “Unleashed” for its story more than its awesome fight scenes.  The concept seems a little ridiculous as this fighter is raised like a dog and trained to turn into a killing machine when his collar is removed, but the film executes it in a way that makes it surprisingly believable.  Li’s character shows a convincing transformation through culture and music, aided by Morgan Freeman’s soft-spoken character and contrasted by the raw aggression of Bob Hoskins.  You always expect greatness from Freeman, but all of these actors provide better performances than your typical martial arts cast.  I was particularly taken with Kerry Condon, who somehow manages to keep up with Freeman and serves as a convincing role model for Li.  The story isn’t perfect as it drags at a few points, but the progressive revealing of information and action sequences always pick the tempo back up.  It isn’t often that you combine blood and weapons with a Mozart Piano Sonata, but the odd combination works perfectly in the context of “Unleashed.”

[Pictured: Bonus points to using music to help him find his humanity]

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