Unleashed (Danny the Dog) (2005)

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Released 13-Dec-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Trailer-Once Upon A Time In China, Game Of Death
Trailer-Once Upon A Time In China 2
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Making Of-Making Of SFX
Featurette-Action Scenes
Deleted Scenes
Outtakes
Music Video-"Baby Boy" Performed By Thea
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 97:43 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (72:27) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Louis Leterrier
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Jet Li
Morgan Freeman
Bob Hoskins
Kerry Condon
Vincent Regan
Dylan Brown
Tamer Hassan
Michael Jenn
Phyllida Law
Carole Ann Wilson
Michael Ian Lambert
Jaclyn Tze Wey
Puthirith Chou
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Massive Attack
RZA


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This film arrived rather quietly in the box office, certainly in this country, despite starring one of the current biggest stars of action cinema in Jet Li, along with Morgan Freeman and Bob Hoskins. I can understand why because this is a very different action film to most in the genre. It tries to do something different and the story is certainly not clichéd. The film actually came about because Jet Li wanted to do something different from the run of the mill action flicks produced by Hollywood, so he approached well known writer / director Luc Besson, who he knew from their previous joint project Kiss of the Dragon. He asked Besson to write a different sort of action film for him, he was just not sure what. The film is known as Danny the Dog in some areas but is being released here as Unleashed.

    The plot involves a man, Danny (Jet Li), who has been brought up by a gangster in Glasgow, basically as if he is a dog. He keeps him in a basement cage, treats him badly and makes him wear a metal collar. He has been trained to attack when the collar is removed, using incredible martial arts skills. His owner, Bart (Bob Hoskins), uses him to enforce his will on other criminals or to collect debts. One day, while Bart is discussing business, Danny finds himself alone in a room with a blind piano tuner, Sam (Morgan Freeman), who shows him kindness and friendship. After being badly injured in a car crash involving Bart and some of his thugs, Danny returns to where he met Sam. Sam, despite knowing nothing about him, takes him in and Danny ends up living with Sam and his 18 year old step-daughter, Victoria (Kerry Condon). When his old gangster acquaintances find him, things become very difficult for Danny and also for Sam & Victoria.

    Despite some very good touches, I did not think this film worked as a whole. It felt like two different films squashed together. One, a sensitive character drama about Danny finding the humanity within him and the other an ultra-violent martial arts flick. The central message about violence not being the answer to all problems was lost under the waves of violence. On the other hand, this film contains some of the most impressive fight scenes I have seen recently, and they are certainly better than any of Jet Li's American films. The fight choreography was by Yuen Wo Ping who worked on the Kill Bill films and other impressively staged action films like The Matrix. The cinematography is very stylish, seemingly using filters to dull down the colour scheme and Jet Li's performance is quite impressive, showing the changes happening to his character.

    This film is available in two versions globally, the European version which is longer and has a different ending (also known as the unrated version in the US) and the R rated US release. Our local release is the same as the US R rated version which ends with a piano key hitting the camera. There are piracy notices and 3 trailers before the menu appears.

    I would recommend this film to fans of martial arts films as there are some very impressive fight scenes, however you may become bored with the character development. A worthy attempt at doing something different with a martial arts action film, but it doesn't quite come off.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is excellent.

    The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    As well as there being two different cuts of this film available globally, there are two quite different video transfers available. One, which is included on our disc locally, has a warmer colour palette but is not quite as sharp and the other is sharper but a little overexposed, resulting in bright scenes showing some colour bleeding in whites. This may be by choice. An excellent comparison can be found here. To my eyes our disc is very similar to the UK version which is included in the linked comparison. To my mind either video transfer is very good as you can see in the comparison, and it is up to you to choose which look you prefer.

    There were no noticeable artefacts.

    There are no subtitles.

    The layer change occurs at 72:27 and caused a slight pause.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is excellent.

    This DVD contains three audio options, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s, an English DTS 5.1 track encoded at 768 Kb/s and a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s. All three sound great with the DTS being the pick, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is certainly no slouch.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this film by Massive Attack is fantastic, being very atmospheric and evocative. Any fan of the group needs to hear this soundtrack.

    The surround speakers were used constantly during fight scenes, car accidents and also added specific highlights to the music, not just the usual atmosphere.

    The subwoofer was also used constantly adding significantly to the music, the major car accident and the fight scenes.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A selection of featurettes are included, none of which are overly exciting.

Menu

    The menu included motion, music, and the ability to select scenes and audio tracks.

Making Of (36:23)

    Presented 4x3. This making of is reasonable but overlong. It covers the genesis of the project, Luc Besson's involvement, behind the scenes footage, discussion of the action choreography, casting and interviews with Jet Li & the director. It contains lots of excepts from the film in very bad video quality. Most of this is in French with English subtitles burned in.

Making of SFX (2:05)

    Decidedly uninteresting featurette including various versions of the CGI piano.

Action Scenes (2:51, 3:29, 2:21, 1:21)

    Rough cut footage with extra sections of four fight scenes. Interesting to see, especially when you can see the wire work.

Cut Scenes (1:49 & 0:44)

    Two extra scenes are included, the first where Danny tries to explain his situation to Sam and the second is an extra fight scene which was not included in the final film.

Outtakes (2:25)

    Pretty boring set of goofs which includes Freeman clowning around.

Music Video - Thea 'Baby Boy' (3:04)

    Nothing much to see here, just a music video for a less than memorable tune by someone you've probably never heard of.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Now this is where things get complex. There is an excellent comparison of the global options on DVD Comparisons. Our local release is basically the Region 2 UK release with a DTS track added. I would probably go for the R1 unrated version due to the extras having English rather than French audio but the link above will give you all the available options.

Summary

    A worthy attempt at doing something different with a martial arts film which doesn't quite work as a whole.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The set has a collection of featurettes, but none of them are earth-shattering.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, March 06, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

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