Danny the Dog (US title: Unleashed) has good fighting scenes in it as you’d expect from a Jet Li movie and it also features some compelling acting from Mr. Li. The only major gripe I have with it is the concept of human experiment which it features as it’s premise (“Get them young and the possibilities are infinite”).
Put a collar around an infant and raise him to behave like a dog? Realistically speaking the movie has no merit on this level and bluntly asks us to accept the fact that Danny is a grown up “dog” with the mind of a traumatized child. The collar comes off and the “unleashed” dog becomes a martial arts killer machine.
What’s more is that Bob Hoskins as Bart just doesn’t strike me as the utter despicable human monster he is supposed to resemble.
We are presented with cardboard “fairy tale” characters and when we look to the story we find just another rip off of clichés. The story has no dignity to it and is simply without merit, it isn’t even that scurrile that you’d be able to accept it for that alone (e.g. like in “The Favour, the Watch and the Very Big Fish” also with Bob Hoskins).
The only “spice” that is added is the martial arts which detaches us from the “transformation” plot and yet (since we all love fairy tales with happy endings) we still hope Danny can make his transformation back into the child he was and become the man he is supposed to be.
If I had to categorize this movie I would file it under Action, Drama, Fantasy. Why the latter? Because once upon a time evil man kills woman, takes infant, infant is raised by evil “uncle” man in evil dungeon to become evil killer dog, sweet music brings back “womb” memories and “unleashes” the human aspect inside the child dog man, love is sweet, love is good and former dog child kicks evil uncle in the nuts and quits and all live happily ever after.
Jet Li delivers good acting and superb martial arts action and if you can forgive all the other short comings then you will like it all the more. I can’t help to think that this movie could have done way better with a different director. French cinema is dead anyhow, according to the French critics.