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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Martial Arts > Gangster > Unleashed (HD-DVD/DVD Combo Format)

Unleashed (HD-DVD/DVD Combo Format)


Picture: B/B-     Sound: B     Extras: C-     Film: D



Jet Li says he is retiring from martial arts films, leaving behind a strange career dichotomy.  His good films (except the watchable Lethal Weapon 4) are all non-U.S. productions, while the U.S. films are the lame ones.  Maybe if The Green Hornet had been made at Universal with Mark Walberg in the title role and himself as Kato, it would have changed the course of Li's career for the better, but that film never happened and Li has been lesser U.S. productions since.  The worst of them, though co-produced in Europe, is the English language would-be thriller Unleashed.  The film stars Li as a dangerous henchman for a corrupt gangster (an over-the-top Bob Hoskins repeating himself again) with a dumb twist.


Li’s character is on a leash like a dog!  He only goes into action and kills when the leash is removed like some kind of trained dog or animal.  The film and characters find this casually acceptable and it is one of the most idiotic high concept action films this side of anything The Rock (including Gridiron Gang, disguised as a feel-good drama, as if he could be some kind of role model!!!) has done.  If we accept the premise, then the film trips over how to handle it badly, but then this was doomed from the start by that idea.


After killing plenty of people for Hoskins, there is a point where he is separated from this slavery and meets a kind man played by the usually-in-kind-roles Morgan Freeman.  He is a blind piano player whose work causes a humanizing response in Li, playing on the cliché of music calming the savage beast.  But then this film is loaded with clichés, which makes sense when you find out that it was written by genre crapmeister Luc Besson, who did not have the balls to direct it himself, so he got Louis Leterrier to do his dirty work for him.  As the film progresses, it gets worse and worse.  As for Li’s great fighting, should you skip 99% of the film just to see his action moments?  Only if you are the most diehard of fans.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on the DVD side is clear enough to see the awful image that was shot and digitally degraded, with the 1080p digital High Definition version even making the problems all the clearer.  Pierre Morel’s work would be watchable if he and director Leterrier had not decided to degrade the detail and color with a bright vomit green edge that makes it look like a defective image throughout.  This is one of the worst Super 35mm productions to date.  This is one of the nadirs of this tired, lame, pathetic, idiotic visual approach.  Some try to blame Blade Runner and Se7en for this look, but they look like bright Technicolor Musicals as compared to this slop.  Unlike Jarhead, which degrades its image with a point, this has no purpose but pseudo-artistic pretension.


The sound is the only highlight of this film, if that.  The regular DVD side has regular DTS 5.1 and HD side has Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, but even the Massive Attack score is unmemorable, leaving a few surround moments that would be the only reason to salvage this disaster.  Extras include a director interview, behind the scenes featurette and Music Video where The Rza joins Massive Attack.  What a mess!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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