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Jason Bortz

Besson's Leterrier is Unleashed.

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Li's character, Danny, has lived his whole life as a slave and has no adult education. He told us, "My character is mentally only ten years old, but physically fares well. He can beat up a lot of people in a few seconds. But he doesn't understand life. He doesn't have friends, he doesn't have family. ... So I meet Morgan Freeman's character. He's a piano tuner and he [introduces me to] music. And his music brings me back. [Helps me] become normal person. I feel the friendship, I feel the love, I feel the family. And I become a normal person. That is the whole story."

Trailer available here.

Life keeps getting better.

I was pleasantly surprised by Leterrier's handling of The Transporter's action sequences--it'll be interesting to see if some of Besson's 'human element sympathy' a'la Leon surfaces here, where we can actually believe it. Li does have a penchant for pulling off the boyish, I really don't want to hurt people vibe like very few other action stars can accomplish...can't wait.


[iNSERT SIGNATURE HERE]

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Huh, I saw a trailer for this last year - I think it stated that it was due out in Nov/Dec, but then I never heard anything else about it.

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Can't wait. I've seen all of Jet Li's films but the two he made in 1988... I just wish he had better roles. Hopefully this will prove to be both a good Jet Li movie and a good movie.

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There's an interesting blurb here about the Asian response to Jet Li's role in this film.

I read about that response, and personally, I'm a little baffled by it. I think they're being way too sensitive about Li being humiliated or whatever. I haven't seen the film yet, but it certainly looks like it could be a much deeper and more challenging role (relatively speaking) than anything he's done to date - especially as far as his Western films are concerned. And that's definitely not a bad thing.

However, I suppose I can understand their concerns. Li really hasn't been offered any roles that come close to measuring up to his Eastern films (though, IMHO, Kiss Of The Dragon came pretty close). And so I can understand them getting a little defensive. But Unleashed certainly looks like it has the potential to take Li to a whole new level as an actor.

And besides, we all know that, by the time the end credits start rolling, he'll have handed out plenty of beatdowns to the bad guys. Strong acting, plenty of smackdown... it's a win-win situation as far as I'm concerned. biggrin.gif


"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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Just got back from seeing it and my initial reactions are that Unleashed is just not all that. I can't believe how many cliches, lines of awkward dialog (there were several times where I felt really sorry for Mr. Freeman), hard-to-believe plot points, and generic and stereotypical characters were packed into 100 the minutes. Granted, the storyline itself is pretty cliched and generic, but the filmmakers just seemed to ramp it up to new heights.

Jet Li does a pretty good job, but most of the time, all he has to do is look haggard, childlike, or really pissed off - or some combination of the three. The fight scenes are few and far between, which places most of the movie's weight on the drama, which just can't hold up.

Although I've always thought Li is a pretty decent actor, all things considered, his performance almost always gets swallowed by Bob Hoskin's screenchewing and Kerry Condon's ultra-cuteness... and all of the really mawkish, hearttugging scenes. In fact, the movie gets so bad that I was actually surprised when the director didn't go for the really cheesy way of handling the film's climax.

I know I might get some static for this, but I've always liked Kiss Of The Dragon the most of Jet Li's western films... and Unleashed doesn't unseat it.

Edited by opus

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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I really liked it. Sure, the sentimentality was poured on a little thick. But everything in this film was over the top: the melodrama, the action scenes and the screen-chewing of Bob Hoskins (who made a good villian), so it worked for me. I thought Jet Li was able to make the most of his somewhat limited acting range in this role, playing someone who never learned to develop emotionally. The fighting scenes were done well. It's nice for a change to see in an American movie some good old-fashioned butt-kicking that doesn't rely on CGI.

Edited by Crow

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I thought some of the action was pretty solid. I love the fact that they were going for a rawer, more brutal style of fighting. But on the downside, that more realistic approach meant that the wirework became painfully obvious at times, and slightly incongruous.


"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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I was certainly aware of its lack of thematic subtlety, but I tended to forgive it, although I'm not sure why.  One reason may be that the pacing in Act II seemed to demonstrate an actual interest in these people and their relationship (cliche that it was); in other movies what took 30 minutes here would be done in 5, a quick transition to another action piece rather than a set up for the (yes, predictable) climax. 

This is what really endeared this movie to me. Usually inane dialogue really turns me off to a film, but I was drawn to the humanity of the characters and thankful that the action was part of the story but not the whole story. As much as I liked the action I think my favorite parts of this movie were when they were showing Danny around town.


"Did you mention, perhaps, what line of industrial lubricants Jesus would have endorsed?"

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I really enjoyed this movie. I've been really busy and have had to pick my movies carefully. After seeing the trailers, I really wanted to see this so when I had a few free hours I went right after this one.

Some of the storytelling is heavy-handed and it does require a substantial suspension of disbelief (don't ask too many logical plot questions) but I got swallowed up by the idea that one need not be changed (leashed) to the past - that love and kindness can heal and renew.

I really liked Li's performance. I thought it was interesting that this role used his limited (but growing) English skills as an asset. Reminded me of how Schwarzenegger's early roles (Conan/Terminator) used his accent to emphasize the other-wordly nature of his character. Maybe Jet Li will be govenor one day.

randall

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I didn't like it that much, mostly because Bob Hoskin's character was a pretty poor villian. When Morgan Freeman says at the end that

"that man can talk some serious s***"

, it just didn't ring true. He was not only evil, but stupid. Careless, overly cruel, and just plain ugly. I understand that they were probably trying to make sure we really didn't like him, but the very idea of Li going anywhere or doing anything for him after being finally let loose is ridiculous to the point of ruining the last third of the movie.

The movie didn't live up to its (admittedly fascinating) premise either. Sure,

the scene when Victoria takes off his collar is intense, but nothing really happens! It's as if it's actually something else besides the collar that keeps the "dog" side of his nature at bay . . . but that something is never explained or explored.


That's just how eye roll.

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