Unleashed (film)

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Unleashed poster.jpg
U.S. theatrical release poster
Directed by Louis Leterrier
Produced by Luc Besson
Jet Li
Steven Chasman
Written by Luc Besson
Starring Jet Li
Morgan Freeman
Bob Hoskins
Kerry Condon
Music by Neil Davidge
Massive Attack
Cinematography Pierre Morel
Edited by Nicolas Trembasiewicz
Distributed by Rogue Pictures
Release date
  • February 2, 2005 (2005-02-02) (France)
  • May 12, 2005 (2005-05-12) (Hong Kong)
  • May 13, 2005 (2005-05-13) (United States)
  • August 19, 2005 (2005-08-19) (United Kingdom)
Running time
102 minutes[1]
Country France
United Kingdom[2]
Language English
Budget $45 million[3]
Box office $50.9 million[3]

Unleashed (also known as Danny the Dog) is a 2005 British-French[4] martial arts action thriller film directed by Louis Leterrier, written by Luc Besson, and produced by Jet Li. It stars Li, Bob Hoskins, Morgan Freeman, and Kerry Condon. The film's setting and shooting location are Glasgow.


Bart (Bob Hoskins) is a vicious loan shark whose method of persuading men to pay him back involves Danny the Dog (Jet Li), a man with the mentality of a child and a dog. Danny is a violently skilled fighter who stops at nothing to take down his targets, but only when a metal collar around his neck is removed by Bart. Once the collar is on, Danny is a harmless, withdrawn person, with very little knowledge of how to live as a socialised person, and he is constantly bullied by Bart, whom Danny perceives as his master.

Bart realises he can end his loan shark career by entering Danny as a fighter in underground fighting matches. If Danny wins, Bart receives a hefty prize money. However, after the first fight, Bart is involved in a mishap with another criminal and is left for dead. A critically injured Danny returns to an antique warehouse for shelter, where he is found by a kind, blind piano tuner, Sam (Morgan Freeman). At the home of Sam and his stepdaughter Victoria (Kerry Condon), Danny starts a new life with the benevolent family and learns to live without his collar; curiously he is drawn closer to music while spending time with Victoria. He also develops curiosity about who his mother was when he learns what a family is.

Weeks later Sam informs Danny about moving back to New York, where he and Victoria are originally from. He invites Danny, telling him they think of him as family, and Danny happily accepts. However, Danny runs into Bart’s right-hand man Lefty in the streets and is forced back to Bart, who is still alive. Bart drags Danny back to the underground arena, where a death-match is set between Danny and ruthless martial artists. Despite Danny’s pleas, Bart shoves him into the pit, where he is pummeled by four fighters. Danny eventually retaliates but refuses to kill them. Enraged by Danny’s change of character, Bart drags him back home and shuts him back to his cage. That night, however, Danny sneaks through his door and goes through photographs of Bart’s favorite prostitutes, finally finding one snapshot of who appears to be Danny’s own mother. He interrogates Bart, who tells him that she was simply a prostitute who is long gone. He angrily promises to make Danny repay him for the money he had lost earlier that evening.

Next morning, however, Danny manages to escape and runs back to Sam and Victoria, telling them what he had learned and where he was. With the two's help, Danny regains memories from his childhood past: his mother was a music student with no money, so she offered herself to Bart to get some to pay for her lessons. But one day, Bart shot her when she defied him. Bart has been raising Danny ever since, not as a human being, but as a dog.

Bart and a large gang of thugs arrive at Sam's apartment building to capture Danny. Frantic, Danny hides Sam and Victoria in their closet, and he runs out to take out the thugs all over the building. He faces off against an attacker with skills similar to his own; Danny eventually causes him to fall to his death on Bart's car. A vengeful Bart pursues Danny through the building with a gun, finally catching him in Sam's apartment. He threatens to pull the trigger, all the while telling him that he was never meant for a different kind of lifestyle. But he drops the gun and instead takes out a collar, telling Danny to come home. Danny slowly advances toward the collar, but stops Bart at the last minute and disarms him. He proceeds to furiously beat Bart, causing Sam and Victoria to burst out and frantically beg Danny not to kill; however, a defeated Bart orders Danny otherwise. Bart tells Danny he will always be an animal, to which Sam responds by smashing a flower pot on his head, knocking him unconscious. Sam, Danny, and Victoria embrace having calmed Danny's rage. Bart is arrested in the aftermath.

Some time later, Danny is with Sam at a piano recital at Carnegie Hall, where Victoria is getting ready to perform. Realising Victoria is playing what his mother played years ago, Danny sheds a happy tear.



Critical reception[edit]

Unleashed received positive reviews and has a rating of 65% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 130 reviews with an average score of 6.2 out of 10. The critics consensus at Rotten Tomatoes states "Jet Li gets to emote in some emotionally awkward scenes, but the gritty fight sequences come through in what is Li's best English language film."[5] The film also has a score of 58 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 31 reviews.[6]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, stating "The film is ingenious in its construction. It has all the martial arts action any Jet Li fan could possibly desire."[7] In 2014, Time Out polled several film critics, directors, actors and stunt actors to list their top action films,[8] and Unleashed was listed at 68th place on this list.[9]

Box office[edit]

In North America, Unleashed was released by Rogue Pictures (which was the division of Focus Features). In its opening weekend in North America, the film grossed $10,900,901 which placed it third. It showed on 1,957 theaters for an average $5,570 per screen. The film grossed $24.5 million in North America and a further $26.3 million worldwide for a total of 50.9 million.[3] This box office result surpassed Rogue's expectations of $18 million gross at the United States box office.[10]


Danny the Dog
Massive Attack - Danny the Dog 2004.jpg
Soundtrack album by Massive Attack
Released October 11, 2004
Genre Trip hop
Length 52:39
Label Virgin/EMI Records
Producer Neil Davidge, Robert Del Naja, The RZA
Massive Attack chronology
100th Window
Danny the Dog
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[11]

The soundtrack was created by Massive Attack. It was released under the name Danny the Dog, in 2004 from Virgin/EMI Records. In 2005, Virgin Records re-released the soundtrack under the title Unleashed, with two bonus tracks produced by the RZA. Neither version features the song "Aftersun", featuring vocals by Dot Allison, that appears in the end credits of the film. The classical piano solo played in several scenes of the film is Mozart's Piano Sonata No.11 "Andante grazioso".

  1. "Opening Title" – 1:10
  2. "Atta' Boy" – 1:29
  3. "P Is for Piano" – 1:57
  4. "Simple Rules" – 1:20
  5. "Polaroid Girl" – 2:59
  6. "Sam" – 3:08
  7. "One Thought at a Time" – 4:23
  8. "Confused Images" – 1:59
  9. "Red Light Means Go" – 2:04
  10. "Collar Stays On" – 1:51
  11. "You've Never Had a Dream" – 2:46
  12. "Right Way to Hold a Spoon" – 3:19
  13. "Everybody's Got a Family" – 1:29
  14. "Two Rocks and a Cup of Water" – 2:32
  15. "Sweet Is Good" – 1:33
  16. "Montage" – 1:54
  17. "Everything About You Is New" – 2:25
  18. "The Dog Obeys" – 2:19
  19. "Danny the Dog" – 5:53
  20. "I Am Home" – 4:14
  21. "The Academy" – 1:45
Bonus tracks

In 2005 Virgin released a new version of the album with two bonus tracks.

  1. "Baby Boy" – 3:28 (Thea Van Seijen)
  2. "Unleash Me" – 2:36 (The RZA feat. Prodigal Sunn & Christbearer of Northstar)


  1. ^ "UNLEASHED (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2013-05-28. 
  2. ^ "Danny The Dog". 
  3. ^ a b c "Unleashed". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  4. ^ http://en.unifrance.org/movie/24103/danny-the-dog
  5. ^ "Unleashed". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. May 13, 2005. Retrieved February 3, 2017. 
  6. ^ "Unleashed Reviews". Metacritic.com. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 3, 2017. 
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (May 12, 2005). "Unleashed (R)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved April 16, 2010. 
  8. ^ Rothkopf, Joshua, ed. (April 29, 2016). "The 100 best action movies". Time Out. Retrieved February 3, 2017. 
  9. ^ Rothkopf, Joshua, ed. (April 29, 2016). "The 100 best action movies: 70-61". Time Out. Retrieved February 3, 2017. 
  10. ^ James, Allison (May 19, 2005). "Farrow inks to star in Besson's 'Arthur'". Variety. 
  11. ^ "Danny the Dog: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Massive Attack". Allmusic. 

External links[edit]