Unleashed (2005)


Unleashed (2005)

Two men cut off from the world in different ways become unlikely friends and protectors in this offbeat action drama. Danny (Jet Li) is a physically powerful but emotionally stunted man; never given any sort of proper education, Danny has learned little in his lifetime but how to fight, and his minder, Bart (Bob Hoskins), treats him more like a guard dog than anything else, using him in illegal no-holds-barred brawls that earn Bart plenty of money but only reinforce Danny's violent alienation. When Bart is injured in an auto accident, Danny is left to fend for himself, and stumbles upon Sam (Morgan Freeman), an elderly piano tuner who has lost his sight. Sam is the first person to treat Danny with kindness, and the music he plays soothes the troubled soul of the fighter. However, Danny's fighting skills soon come in handy when Sam runs afoul of a pack of small-time crooks who believe he knows too much about their operations.
IMDb   7 /10
Metacritic   58 %
TheMovieDb    6.9 /10
RottenTomatoes  66 %
FilmAffinity   6.1 /10
Director Louis Leterrier
Writer Luc Besson
Release Date2005-05-12
Runtime1h 43min
GenreAction, Crime, Drama
Content RatingR (R)
AwardsAwards1 nomination
CompanyRogue Pictures, EuropaCorp, Danny the Dog Prods Ltd.
CountryUK, France, USA
Dannyas Danny
Bartas Bart
Victoriaas Victoria
Rafflesas Raffles
Leftyas Lefty
Georgieas Georgie
Wyethas Wyeth
Distinguished Ladyas Distinguished Lady
The Strangeras The Stranger
Danny's Motheras Danny's Mother
Teen Dannyas Teen Danny
Little Dannyas Little Danny
Baby Dannyas Baby Danny
Franck Xie Cheng
Franck Xie Cheng
Baby Dannyas Baby Danny
Floozy 1as Floozy 1
Danielle Louise Harley
Danielle Louise Harley
Floozy 2as Floozy 2

Unleashed (2005 film)

Unleashed (French: Danny the Dog) is a 2005 action thriller film directed by Louis Leterrier, written by Luc Besson, and co-produced by Jet Li and Besson. It stars Li, Morgan Freeman, Bob Hoskins and Kerry Condon, with action choreography by Yuen Woo-Ping. The film's setting and shooting location are Glasgow.


Bart (Bob Hoskins) is a vicious loan shark whose method of persuading men to pay him back involves Danny the Dog (Jet Li), a young man trained like a dog and left with the mentality of a child. Danny is a violently skilled fighter who stops at nothing to take down his targets, but only when a metal collar around his neck is removed by Bart. Once the collar is on, Danny is a harmless, withdrawn person, with very little knowledge of how to live as a socialised human, and he is constantly bullied by Bart, whom Danny perceives as his master. One day, Danny meets Sam (Morgan Freeman), a kind blind pianist, at the antique warehouse while dealing with Bart's clients.

After the collar trick with Danny starts to fail due to its inherent limitations, Bart realizes he can end his loan shark career by entering Danny as a fighter in underground fighting deathmatches. If Danny wins, Bart receives a hefty prize money. However, after the first fight where Danny instantly kills the current champion in seconds, Bart and his men are attacked and left for dead by some men because of the orders of one of the men that previously owed money to Bart. A severely injured Danny returns to the antique warehouse for shelter, where he is found by Sam. Danny is unconscious for two days and wakes up at the home of Sam and his stepdaughter, Victoria (Kerry Condon). Danny begins to open up to them, starting a new life with the benevolent family. The two teach Danny how to eat, read, speak, cook, go grocery shopping, and how to play the piano. Danny socializes with Victoria and Sam by hanging out with them in public areas and taking family photos. He also drastically changes with new clothes, hairstyle, and fresh lifestyle, and finally learns to live without his collar after Victoria removes it. He is drawn closer to music while spending time with Victoria, and develops curiosity about who his mother was after Victoria teaches him what it means to have a family.

Weeks later Sam informs Danny about moving back to New York, where he and Victoria are originally from. He invites Danny, telling him they think of him as family, and Danny happily accepts. However, Danny runs into Bart’s right-hand man Lefty in the streets and is forced back to Bart after Lefty threatens to hurt Sam and Victoria. Bart, who is recovering from the accident, drags Danny back to the underground arena, where a death-match is set between Danny and four ruthless martial artists. Despite Danny’s refusal to fight, Bart shoves him into the pit, where he is attacked by the fighters while trying to defend himself. He eventually retaliates by beating the four fighters, but refuses to kill them, so Bart kills the first fighter at gunpoint, drags Danny back home, and shuts him back in his cage. That night, Danny sneaks through his door and goes through photographs of Bart’s favorite prostitutes, finally finding one snapshot of who appears to be Danny’s own mother. He interrogates Bart, who tells him that she was simply a prostitute who is long gone. He angrily promises to make Danny repay him for the money he had lost earlier that evening.

Next morning, Danny manages to escape from Bart by causing the car to crash and goes back to Sam and Victoria, telling them what he has learned and where he was. With the two's help, Danny figures out that his mother was a pianist who had financial problems. As Victoria plays the same music his mother played, Danny regains memories from his childhood past: his mother was a music student with no money, so she offered herself to Bart to get some to pay for her lessons while hiding Danny from him all the time. However, it ended when Bart discovered Danny, causing her to defy Bart and be killed. Bart has been raising Danny ever since, not as a human being, but as a dog. After regaining the memories, he and Victoria try to pack up when a confused Sam returns.

Bart and a large gang of thugs arrive at Sam's apartment building to capture Danny. Danny hides Sam and Victoria in their closet and runs out to fight the thugs. He faces off against The Stranger, an attacker with a skill level similar to his own, but Danny eventually kills The Stranger by inadvertently causing him to fall to his death on Bart's car. Bart and his men pursue Danny through the building with guns, finally catching him in Sam's apartment. He threatens to pull the trigger, all the while telling him that he was never meant for a different kind of lifestyle, but he drops the gun and instead takes out a collar, telling Danny to come home. Danny slowly advances toward the collar, but stops Bart at the last minute and disarms him. He proceeds to furiously beat Bart, causing Sam and Victoria to burst out and beg Danny not to kill; however, a defeated Bart orders Danny otherwise. Bart tells Danny he will always be an animal, to which Sam responds by smashing a flower pot on Bart's head, knocking him unconscious. Sam, Danny, and Victoria embrace having calmed Danny's rage. Bart and his men are arrested all in the aftermath.

Some time later, Danny is with Sam at a piano recital at Carnegie Hall, where Victoria is getting ready to perform. Realising Victoria is playing what his mother played years ago, Danny sheds a happy tear.


  • Jet Li as Danny a.k.a. Danny the Dog
  • Morgan Freeman as Sam
  • Bob Hoskins as Bart
  • Kerry Condon as Victoria
  • Vincent Regan as Raffles
  • Dylan Brown as Lefty
  • Tamer Hassan as Georgie
  • Michael Jenn as Wyeth
  • Jean-François Lénogue as Raffles thug
  • Scott Adkins as Swimming pool fighter
  • Silvio Simac (uncredited) as Swimming pool fighter
  • Mike Ian Lambert as The Stranger
  • Kazu Patrick Tang as Bart's Thug


Unleashed was first distributed in France as Danny the Dog on February 2, 2005.

Critical reception

Unleashed received generally positive reviews. The film has a rating of 66% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 131 reviews with an average score of 6.2/10. The critical consensus states: "Jet Li gets to emote in some emotionally awkward scenes, but the gritty fight sequences come through in what is Li's best English language film." The film also has a score of 58 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 31 reviews.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, stating "The film is ingenious in its construction. It has all the martial arts action any Jet Li fan could possibly desire." In 2014, Time Out polled several film critics, directors, actors and stunt actors to list their top action films, and Unleashed was listed at 68th place on this list.

Box office

In North America, Unleashed was released by Rogue Pictures (which was the division of Focus Features). In its opening weekend in North America, the film grossed $10,900,901 which placed it third. It showed on 1,957 theaters for an average $5,570 per screen. The film grossed $24.5 million in North America and a further $26.3 million worldwide for a total of 50.9 million. This box office result surpassed Rogue's expectations of $18 million gross at the North America box office.


Danny the Dog
Soundtrack album by
Massive Attack
ReleasedOctober 11, 2004
GenreTrip hop
LabelVirgin/EMI Records
ProducerNeil Davidge, Robert Del Naja, The RZA
Massive Attack chronology
100th Window
Danny the Dog

The soundtrack was created by Massive Attack. It was released under the name Danny the Dog, in 2004 from Virgin/EMI Records. In 2005, Virgin Records re-released the soundtrack under the title Unleashed, with two bonus tracks produced by the RZA. Neither version features the song "Aftersun", featuring vocals by Dot Allison, that appears in the end credits of the film. The classical piano solo played in several scenes of the film is Mozart's Piano Sonata No.11 "Andante grazioso" while the song "Two Rocks and a Cup of Water" was played in one of the trailers to I Am Legend.

In 2005 Virgin released a new version of the album with two bonus tracks.