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  • Danny the Dog
    • Danny the Dog
    • Runtime:102 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-22 23:26:04
    • Director: Louis Leterrier
    • Genres: Action, Crime, Drama, Music, Romance, Thriller
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Danny the Dog


This is one of the best Jetli movies I've seen. Quite frankly, I've not
watched most of his movies but I feel confident this ranks as one of
his top roles in his movie career. Great direction, great action, cool
performances, lots of comedy too either in dialogues that are
unintentionally(or intentionally) or even eerily funny and cute moments
involving Jetli or even the villain, essayed by Bob Hoskins.

Jetli rocked in the fight scenes which were fast & powerful. And he
also behaved near perfectly like a dog! As his character is that of a
slave-like guy who obeys his wicked master like a dog does, Jetli
showed the right mannerisms, for e.g. the way he grabs food from his
master's hand or recoils in fear while encountering strangers. Actor
Morgan Freeman is like a perfect antidote to Jetli's high-flying action
& restlessness. Calm like a lotus with his body language & voice,
Morgan delivers a class, blind man act. Kerry Condon as Morgan's
adopted daughter gives a cute & soothing performance.

This is my first Louis Leterrier movie and without hesitation, I can
now add him as one of my fav Hollywood directors.

Verdict: Engaging from start to finish. This is a thumbs up,
action-family movie


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The action scenes were spot on, and they were choreographed with beauty
and grace. The main issue I had with this film is the story. I found it
to be a little too formulaic and generic. It's like a fighting version
of Oliver Twist. I do feel the filmmaking was actually pretty good and
any action fan would love this, but that's about it. It's targeted for
mostly action fans of Jet Li. Also, Jet Li's character seems to be
falling in love with the girl, but there was no love scene.
Nonetheless, it's not a bad film…but the character Jet Li portrays
feels typecast because he's Asian especially about a story that
portrays a minority in an unflattering way.


Jet Li is Danny, in an initially undisclosed way he comes under the
wing of Bart, a violent and savage loan shark played with particular
vigor by Bob Hoskins. Since a very young age it seems that Danny was
indeed treated more as an animal than as a human being, and I don't
mean like a pet. When "unleashed" Danny acts with immediate and
ferocious savagery, pounding p*ss out of anyone in the room that he is
not familiar with. Bart uses Danny as instant blackmail; "You pay when
you see me, collar stays on… You don't, collar comes off".

In fact the opening scene is exactly that, the first words in the film
are "Get 'em", and Danny hoes into 7 or 8 bad guys with (dare I say it)
animalistic brutality and intent. It is a chilling and effective
illustration of the Bart/Danny relationship.

As much as I would enjoy awesome violent fight scenes for 100 minutes
apparently "society" just can't deal with a lack of narrative, so one
day Danny comes across a blind piano tuner named Sam (Morgan Freeman),
he is taken by the music and the fact that the guy didn't threaten or
treat him like sh*t. These things seem to be good to a guy who eats
food out of a can with his fingers, has a frayed teddy bear as his most
cherished possession and who literally sleeps in a cage. This momentary
delay leads to a chastising from Bart, who during the wait was being
set upon by bad guys, (none of whom ever seem to have guns, else they
would simply plug a bullet in Bart and Danny and end the film, but
moving on).

Bart's protégé comes to the attention of an underground high stakes
fight promoter, the stakes are high both financially and in human
terms, as the fights are to the death. In an early fight Danny ends
proceedings with one punch and the alien-looking fight promoter is
delighted, promising more "work", but asking if Danny might make things
last a little longer next time, kinda like a porno director I guess.

Bart is cashed up and delighted at the prospect of quick and abundant
cash, and he momentarily starts thinking of the future.


As tends to happen a botched revenge hit shakes Danny loose but injured
and shaken. Convinced that Bart is dead he goes to the only place that
has brought him joy in recent times, and he once again runs into Sam
the piano man. Sam recognises that not all is well and takes Danny home
for rest and recuperation, where upon reawakening Danny gets to meet
"full-on" step-daughter Victoria.

This is where the film loses momentum and at least 1/2 a cherished OGR
Ranking point (I bet they regret it now!). We get to go through a 25
minute stretch where Danny realises all that he has missed, the joys of
belonging to a family and what life should really be about.

I know that there must be a reason for the violence that fills the last
20 minutes of the film (and oh what violence it is!) but surely once
we've identified that Danny is happy and cosy we can move on? I would
guess that 10 minutes and a Rocky style "look we've come together as a
loving family" 3 minute montage would do the same thing and expedite
the plot towards the unrelenting sh*tfight that is inevitable. (And
anyone saying that this is not a movie about violence is just kidding
themselves, without the violence it has no reason existing.)
Circumstances change when Danny once more finds himself in Bart's
eyeline, Bart immediately makes up for lost time by re-entering Danny
in the death matches, and of course Danny must decide if he wants to
stick with Bart, a canned diet and the almost daily risk of death; or
Sam and Victoria, a cushy lifestyle (and perhaps a crack at Vicky when
she is 18).

There are 4 main fights in this film, two are in the first 15 minutes,
the other two in the last 25 or so. Both fights are brutal and
uncompromising, as Danny fights with an intensity and desperation born
of decades of abuse, the finale in particular is well worth waiting for
and brilliant. It features a great fight with a white-clad behemoth
that dispels the age-old argument that you can't have a stand up
fistfight in a toilet… What? You've never heard of that one? There is
some wirework in a few of the fights but it so well done that it is not
obvious, it isn't there to suggest any superhuman powers as it is in
your Crouching Tiger's and Hero's, but to highlight falls and the
impact of blows and kicks.

This is Jet's film, even as a largely mute and downtrodden victim Jet
turns on the acting machine. His English is a little stilted, but the
boy can actually act! Needless to say Jet's fighting skills are not
confined by language barriers…

Very, very good. If you've read this far and haven't seen Danny the Dog
yet you should have no excuse from this point on.

Final Rating – 9 / 10. Any "martial arts" fan who doesn't chub up just
a little during the last 20 minutes of this… well they aren't a
martial arts fan. Awesome stuff.


Jet Li stars as Danny, a human dog trained to kill once his collar has
been taken off by his thug gangster boss Bart {Bob Hoskins}. When an
attempt on Bart's life lets him escape, Danny is found and taken in by
a blind piano turner named Sam {Morgan Freeman} and his teenage
stepdaughter Victoria {Kerry Condon}. But just as Danny starts to find
a real life, and piece together his childhood, Bart and his thug army
are back on his tail.

Essential for Jet Li fans, but probably not for every action movie fan.
Danny The Dog {AKA Unleashed} is an interesting blend of outright
violence and quiet comedy led domesticity. Bookended by excellently
choreographed fights {take a bow Yuen Wo-ping}, it's with the overtly
sentimental middle section that the film will lose some of its viewers.
It will either serve as a touching portrait as Danny searches for his
human worth {Li showing he has more than just kick assery in his acting
armoury}, or, have you quickly rummaging around for some old Van Damme
DVD to play instead. Given the bonkers nature of the story, the
surprise is that Unleashed is pretty tight, with no extraneous
characters or subplots to bog it down. It's just a four character
piece, with Freeman & Hoskins playing out as good and evil surrogate
father figures. With the acting of a very high standard. Especially
Hoskins, who is revelling in being a comedic, yet violent, scum-bag.
It's also beautifully filmed with a sort of metallic sheen by Pierre
Morel and the Neil Davidge/Massive Attack musical input is at one with
the mood of the piece.

From smack downs in toilet cubicles to tender piano playing moments,
Danny The Dog is certainly no ordinary action movie. It could go either
way if you haven't seen it, but give it a chance and you just might be
as entertained as I was. Yes, even with that middle section. 7/10

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