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Movie Review by Dr Kuma

Starring: Jet Li, Morgan Freeman, Bob Hoskins, Kerry Condon, Vincent Regan

Director: Louis Leterrier

Once in a while you find yourself watching a film that you believe could be one of the worst you’ve ever seen, but is saved from a lambaste as it improves or has one or two memorable scenes that pull it from the mire.

This is not the case with UNLEASHED (aka DANNY THE DOG).

Like the reference in its original title this was impounded for some time before it was released in this country. To be honest, this dog of a movie is so beyond saving that it really should have been put down while in quarantine.

The story, which has the strange counter point of a madman being saved by piano music, revolves around Danny (Li) a man raised into behaving like a dog, who, hearing a piano being tuned up at a hit, escapes from his captor and starts a new life with the blind piano tuner. The master of this “dog” (Hoskins) obviously seeks to reclaim him because of his unnatural martial arts skills that are triggered when he is unleashed from his collar and told to kill. Seriously, I kid you not. The thing that got me early on was that he was abducted from his Far Eastern homeland, was then brought up like a mongrel but could still speak perfect English, even though he only had a colouring book of the alphabet. Surely he would only have spoken his native tongue, if at all?

The plot, which could have been a real social comment about the world in which we live and the way citizens of poorer countries are abused by those from richer countries, is instead one of the sickest and stupidest movies I’ve seen in some time. The cast, especially Morgan Freeman, belong in a far better film. Bob Hoskins (the dog owner) reprising his LONG GOOD FRIDAY gangland stereotype, is such a caricature that it seems he is the indestructible killing machine, not Li. It’s as though he has mixed two characters from his past movies together and thought that it was a perfect mix. In all honestly though, THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY and SUPER MARIO BROTHERS don’t really mix well. The more you knock him down, the more he pops back up again, taking the movie to each new (lower) level. This gangster is only missing a large M on his chest and a moustache.

I hoped that after an interesting interlude when the screen warmed to Freeman’s presence that the movie would become a little deeper. It did – even deeper into the mire. The scenes in a Glasgow FIGHT CLUB-style fight till you die underground members club is so violently stupid, you try to laugh to yourself (that was impossible as everyone else was laughing with you) to help lighten the needless violent images being paraded before your eyes – if you had your eyes open that is. Of the two women sitting next to me one was reading notes with a light pen by this time and the other had turned her head away from the screen towards me with a look of utter disgust and disinterest, like she’d just bitten into a lemon.

I specifically left writing this review for a couple of days for a reason.

When I first saw SIN CITY I thought that a great movie had been spoilt by uber violence, yet couldn’t get certain great scenes out of my head and ended up telling others that I didn’t know if it was a masterpiece or a travesty. The only time this had happened before was when I saw WILD AT HEART in the late 80’s. I was sickened yet fascinated by the film on first viewing, so went back to make up my mind. I left thinking that it was a masterpiece, which I now realise SIN CITY is also. UNLEASHED however gets worse the more I think about it, which I hope I won’t have to do after writing this review, unless someone asks me for my list of the worst films of 2005. I really felt like I needed a shower after seeing this.

What the hell has happened to Luc Besson? UNLEASHED is now referred to as ‘Unforgivable’ in the movie surgery of Dr Kuma.

Dr Kuma’s verdict: UNLEASHED should have stayed unreleased.

1 out of 6 stars

It would have got ‘zero’ had it not been for Morgan Freeman.