I just know that someone’s gonna see this and say “Hey wait a minute, isn’t this movie actually called Unleashed?”. And to that I say, you are not wrong. In some parts of the world, this movie is called “Unleashed”. And in others it’s “Danny the Dog”. The service I watched it on had it listed as the latter, so that’s what I’m using for this review.
Ladies and gentlemen… “Danny the Dog”.
Danny (Jet Li) is a man who has been an attack dog-like slave to a ruthless mobster (Bob Hoskins) for as long as he can remember. But when he meets a kind, blind man (Morgan Freeman), his life takes an interesting turn. Is this the greatest plot ever? No. But I do have to say that I was surprisingly invested in it. Now, I wasn’t ever deeply invested in it all, but I was invested enough to not get bored when the movie decided to slow down a bit. There are layers to the story here, giving us an interesting look at someone who’s never really felt love or compassion, only knowing abuse and violence, who finally gets a glimpse of something better. It’s a little bit ham-fisted in its storytelling at times, but overall it’s still an enjoyable tale.
The characters in this are entertaining and interesting. Firstly we have Jet Li as Danny, the titular character who’s been treated as a bit of an attack dog for most of his life. He is quite emotionally stunted, due to being a slave to a gangster for so long, so seeing him develop throughout the movie is actually pretty interesting. And Jet Li gives a pretty good performance here. Next we have Bob Hoskins as Bart, the gangster who’s been “taking care of” Danny for all these years. He’s a ruthless asshole who you kind of just want to punch in his face. And Hoskins gives a cartoonishly sneering performance here that I just loved watching. Next we have Morgan Freeman as Sam, a blind, elderly piano tuner that Danny meets, and is the first person to ever really show Danny any kind of kindness. And seeing how he affects Danny creates quite a fun dynamic between the two. And Freeman is really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Kerry Condon, Vincent Regan, Dylan Brown, Michael Jenn, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.
The score for the movie was composed by British trip hop band Massive Attack, and while I wouldn’t find myself listening to this music in my spare time, I do think it worked well for the movie. It is of course heavily based in the electronica/trip hop style that the group is known for while adjusting it to fit more as the score of a movie. And it helps add a little bit of fun to the movie.
The movie was written by Luc Besson and directed by Louis Leterrier, and I think that works as a fine double act. Besson’s quirks shine through pretty well, and blends wonderfully with Leterrier’s knack for creating a fast pace. The movie, even in its slower scenes, never really loses any of its energy. And seeing as this movie stars Jet Li, there’s bound to be some fight scenes in it too. And said fight scenes are fucking fantastic. Well shots, not too quickly edited, wonderfully choreographed, these fights really help add a lot to the movie.
This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 65% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.
While not necessarily a great movie, “Danny the Dog” is a highly entertaining action-drama. It has a pretty good plot, okay characters, really good performances, good music, and great writing/direction/fighting. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Danny the Dog” is an 8,66/10. So while not perfect, it’s still definitely worth buying.
My review of “Danny the Dog” is now completed.
Woof woof, motherfucker.