Saturday, October 22, 2005


Unleashed (3.5/5)

Unleashed was written by Luc Besson, the man responsible for some unique action films (La Femme Nikita, The Professional, and The Fifth Element) as well as a few train wrecks (The Transporter and The Messenger painfully spring to mind). This time Besson falls back on the basic outline he created in La Femme Nikita and The Professional: emotionally dead action hero(ine) finds his/her humanity. It's kind of like The Professional, but with a feral Jet Li and not quite as much pedophilia.

In my opinion, this is the first successful American Jet Li movie. It is about time someone wrote an actual character for him. Supposedly Besson wrote the script with Jet Li in mind, and I kind of wish Besson had directed the movie as well. At times the director at the helm doesn't know what to do when the action slows down, and assuming no one has an attention span, he reverts to quick cuts and wacky camera techniques. I must admit, though, that when the action begins he seems to know what he's doing.

This films has great choreography, and if anyone is actually bored with the attempts at characterization, they should be pleased when the music starts to pick up. These fight scenes are brutal. The director seems to relish the cringe inducing sounds accompanied by people getting bitten, hit in the crotch, and (my personal favorite) getting head-butted.

The music is provided by Massive Attack, and while it probably won't be a great soundtrack on its own it's interesting enough without being distracting. It also is a unique use of electronic music in an action film that doesn't just turn the base up when the action starts.

Oh, yeah, and it turns out that Jet Li is actually an actor! I would never have guessed because not a single American film has treated him like one. Here he does a good job that could easily have been laughable. Bob Hoskin kicks ass in just about everything he does, and this is no exception. Of course a movie like this it dips into sentimentality once or twice, but thanks to Morgan Freeman it doesn't get out of hand.

I have been starving for a good action movie for a while, and it's nice to finally find sustenance. The movie has its share of flaws (don't even ask about all the stuff that's unexplained), but that's a small complaint when there's a unique premise and some great action.

No comments: