If you think Jet Li has only one weapon in his cinematic arsenal (namely, the uncanny ability to use his fists of fury to transform bad guys into hamburger meat), think again. Jet Li wants you to know he’s a thespian. A thespian who can shed a tear as well as other people’s blood.
Already released in France, where it was called Danny the Dog — a far cooler title, if you ask us — Unleashed stars Li as the silent, haunted Danny, an orphan who’s been raised since childhood by a cockney crime boss (Bob Hoskins) to function like an attack hound. Like some twisted Pavlovian nightmare, he makes Danny wear a dog collar and takes it off only when it’s time to unleash the human pit bull on his enemies. But when Danny escapes, he’s taken in by a gentle blind man (Morgan Freeman) who sees the scared, abused kid within. Written by Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element), Unleashed will seem familiar to fans of Besson’s The Professional. ”What was great about The Professional was there was a human story — a love story — bracketed by violence,” says Freeman. ”It’s the same with Unleashed.” Hoskins thinks that’s baloney. ”Jet kept saying to me, ‘Bob, this is not an action picture!’ And I was like, ‘This may not be an action movie to you, but I’m getting beat to s— here!”’