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Danny The Dog DVD Review AKA Unleashed (Region 3)

Discussion in 'Movie Forum' started by Seth Gecko, Sep 19, 2005.

  1. Seth Gecko

    Seth Gecko
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    <P STYLE='text-align: center'><FONT STYLE='font-size: 18px'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/Unleashed/UnleashedR3.jpg' ALT='DANNY THE DOG DVD cover artwork' ALIGN='RIGHT'>DANNY THE DOG</FONT><br>Reviewed September 2005 by <A HREF='search.php?do=process&query=Cas Harlow&showposts=1&forumchoice[]=107&forumchoice[]=197' target='_top'>Cas Harlow</A>.</P><P><B>The Movie : 7</B></P><P>Jet Li is one of the greatest martial artists to have ever graced our screens. Unleashing his ballet-like kung fu skills first in a bevy of Asian productions, he eventually graduated over to Hollywood, securing a role as the lead villain in Lethal Weapon 4 before starring in his very own productions. Unfortunately, he has never really made it big – his films have been very entertaining but none of them have really graduated from the B-movie martial arts action variety (apart from when he returned to Asian cinema to do the superb Hero). Romeo Must Die was entertaining if a bit gimmicky, The One was innovative and his DMX collaboration and Cradle 2 The Grave was disappointing in as much as it wasted the talent of Mark Dacascos, another great – and highly underrated – martial artist. Leon’s Luc Besson previously penned Kiss of the Dragon, which provided some solid if unoriginal Jet Li action and then he wrote this movie, Danny The Dog, especially for Li. Yet to break through into A-movie league, will it prove to be the turning point in Li’s film career or just another enjoyably frivolous action-fest?</p><P>Danny is a highly trained weapon that crime boss Bart dispatches on anybody foolish enough to be late in paying up their debts. Collared like an attack dog, Danny responds only to the command of his master. As Bart scours the underworld collecting monies due, his victims soon learn the pattern – when Bart removes Danny’s collar, Danny becomes a lethal weapon. Unleashed and unstoppable. With the collar on, however, Danny is practically mute and dumb – locked in a cage when he is not doing his boss’s dirty work. Bart soon finds it profitable to involve his ‘pet’ in pit-fighting, tapping into a brand new source of income from Li’s lucrative blood-sport. Then one day Bart treads on one toe too many and finds himself out of action, with Danny left on the street. There he is picked up by a blind piano tuner who takes him back to the house where he lives with his schoolgirl step-daughter, cleaning Danny up and looking after him. Slowly coming out of his shell, he begins to enjoy the new things he is discovering in his life, but it is not long before his old life comes back, rearing its ugly head and Danny has to fight once more.</p><P>Danny The Dog – renamed Unleashed in the States – is probably one of the best Western movies that Jet Li has starred in. Sure, I enjoyed his turn in Lethal Weapon 4, but in as much as more heroic and less clichéd roles go, this is as good as it gets. You can tell that it was written specifically for him, catering for his solid but distracting grasp of English by making his character justifiably speak very little and playing to his strong points – namely, his superior martial arts skills. The fights scenes are simply awesome, with about half a dozen decent fights, one of which is probably the longest and most bone-crunchingly brutal that he has ever done. Each of the fights is both innovative and increasingly challenging so you never feel like Li has an easy time of it combating his often numerous opponents, although the one-on-one scenes are much more convincingly choreographed than the ‘take-it-in-turns’ multiple combatant sequences.</p><P>The trouble is, as is the case with every Western movie Li has made, the story is nothing special. As I’ve already stated, it’s probably the most solid story that he has done – and maybe will ever do – but when you boil it down it is just another martial arts-fest, another excuse for stringing together several brilliant fight scenes. Jackie Chan found a similar problem in the West until he started doing buddy-buddy action-comedies like the brilliant Shanghai films and the Rush Hour series. Even the cumbersome but skilful Steven Seagal, who is currently residing in the depths of DTV hell, once gave us Under Siege, an almost Die Hard calibre action movie. Jet Li has yet to give us a Western film that is not merely the sum of its fight scenes.</p><P>However, Danny The Dog is as close as he’s come and it is a solid effort. Partnering him with heavyweight actor Morgan Freeman was a clever decision, with Freeman going through the motions – even though Million Dollar Baby proved that he can out-act most, even with his eyes closed – as Danny’s blind guardian angel. It was also a safe bet enlisting the sturdy shouting talents of Bob Hoskins as the villain of the piece, stupidly called Bart. Hoskins may never be as good as during his Long Good Friday / Mona Lisa days, but he is still a stalwart performer to bring in and his role here reminds you a little of some of his former glory. Surrounding Li with strong acting talent like this makes up somewhat for his limitations in that department (and I do blame a great deal of it on the language barrier because, as with Chow Yun Fat, Li’s Eastern performances certainly have more depth) but the plot holes soon become unmissable and what you are still basically left with is another B-movie actioner. Directed by the man who worked on the first Transporter movie and helmed the upcoming second, The Transporter (also penned by Besson) is exactly the kind of movie you should expect to get here – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Whilst I may still yearn for Li to return to Asian to pull off some more thoughtful efforts, in the meantime this is kick-ass entertainment to keep you occupied for a couple of hours. So sit back and enjoy.</p><P>This is the European cut which runs several minutes longer than the U.S. edition and contains a slightly different ending. As far as I know the differences are mainly to the development of the relationship between Danny and his blind guardian and do not in any way affect the action side of the movie. Still, it is always nice to get the complete version.</p><P><B>Picture : 6</B></P><P>Danny The Dog is presented in a bleak 2.35:1 aspect ratio anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer. When I say bleak, however, I qualify that remark with the fact that it was intentionally filmed in such a way. The colour seems completely drained out of the proceedings, with Scotland looking as if it has never seen a ray of sunlight. The detail is reasonable, with good clarity for some of the fight scenes but noticeable edge enhancement during some sequences and a light layer of grain popping up now and again. The contrast is quite poor, but again this probably comes back to that intentional bleakness – also the reason why the colour scheme is limited to an almost monochromic palette. Still, it suits the movie for the most part and there is no noticeable print damage.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/Unleashed/UnleashedR3_1.jpg' ALT='DANNY THE DOG'></P><P><B>Sound : 9</B></P><P>The main audio track is a superb Dolby Digital 5.1 effort that permeates your living room right from the opening credits, keeping you entranced by the proceedings throughout. It maintains full use of the surrounds, giving us the brilliant score – by Massive Attack – in all its glory, all around you. The score is perfectly tuned to every change in mood and every different scene, sombre and reflective during the quieter moments but fast and frantic for the fight sequences. It also gives you just enough bass you get your heart thumping. Dialogue is presented clearly from the frontal array and the sound-effects, from gunshots to the thundering blows, offer decent directionality across the room. It is one of the most lively, smothering martial arts action-movie tracks that I have ever come across. We also get an inferior English Dolby Digital 2.0 track for completeness.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/Unleashed/UnleashedR3_2.jpg' ALT='DANNY THE DOG'></P><P><B>Extras : 2</B></P><P>There are no extra features on this edition, although there is a 2-disc edition available on Region 3 or a Region 1 edition with several special features. It should be noted that the deleted footage present on the Region 1 edition may be misleading as I suspect that it is merely the footage cut out of the European version of the film to make the shorter U.S. version. Since this is the European cut, we have that footage anyway in the film itself.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/Unleashed/UnleashedR3_3.jpg' ALT='DANNY THE DOG'></P><P><B>Trivia</B><br><P>For user information we use Bitrate 1.4 to scan the disk for the video bitrate, which also calculates the average bitrate. Below is a graph illustrating the bitrate of the disk, including the average bitrate reading. This disk averaged at 5.5 Mbps.</p></P><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/Unleashed/UnleashedR3_BR.jpg' ALT='DANNY THE DOG'></P><P><B>Verdict : 7</B></P><P>Danny The Dog is one of the best Western Jet Li movies I have encountered, with awesome bone-crunching fight scenes and a reasonable plot stringing it all together. Still, when all is said and done, there is little more on offer here than just a collection of admittedly entertaining fights. I am still waiting for Li to get a Western role to parallel some of his decent Asian efforts like Hero. The video presentation is a bit disappointing, but since the film is intentionally bleak anyway you can overlook that and enjoy the stand-out audio track that will bring your living room to life. This edition is shamefully lacking in extras but at least we get the full European cut. Li fans will simply have to buy it, martial arts aficionados will also be tempted but for anybody else it’s a rental only.</p><div ALIGN='CENTER'>Review Disc Supplied by <a href="http://global.yesasia.com/assocred.asp?W7QIPXOV+/en/prdTransfer.aspx/pid-1004042904" target=”_blank”><img src="http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/SuppliersLogos/YesAsia.jpg" Align="absmiddle"></a><br>Please support us by using our review sponsors.</div><TABLE border='0' CELLPADDING='0' CELLSPACING='2' WIDTH='100%'><TR><TD COLSPAN='2'><B>UNLEASHED (2005)</B></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Genres</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=ACTION' target='_blank'>ACTION</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=CRIME' target='_blank'>CRIME</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=DRAMA' target='_blank'>DRAMA</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=THRILLER' target='_blank'>THRILLER</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Director</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=director&search_for=LOUIS LETERRIER' target='_blank'>LOUIS LETERRIER</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Stars</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=JET LI' target='_blank'>JET LI</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=MORGAN FREEMAN' target='_blank'>MORGAN FREEMAN</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=BOB HOSKINS' target='_blank'>BOB HOSKINS</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=KERRY CONDON' target='_blank'>KERRY CONDON</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65'><B>Region</B></TD><TD><B>3</B> <FONT>(HONG KONG)</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Supplier</TD><TD><FONT>Panorama. Released Friday 5th August 2005</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>SRP</TD><TD><FONT>$14.99</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Discs</TD><TD><FONT>1</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Format</TD><TD><FONT>DVD9</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Time</TD><TD><FONT>109 mins.</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Chapters</TD><TD><FONT>20</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Picture</TD><TD>Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1&nbsp;</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Sound</TD><TD>English Dolby Digital 5.1<BR>English Dolby Digital 2.0</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Subtitles</TD><TD>English, Traditional Chinese</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Case</TD><TD>Amaray</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Extras</TD><TD>None</TD></TR></TABLE><P STYLE='text-align: center'>If you would like to comment on this review, please reply below.</P>
     
  2. john R1

    john R1
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    Seth while i appreciate you and the others for doing the reviews on the dvds, i watched danny the dog and i thought it was total crap, one of the worst films i have seen this year, unlike crash which was one of the best, keep up the good work
     
  3. Seth Gecko

    Seth Gecko
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    Thanks, but I wish people would get the reviewers right. Again, the movie is personal opinion as ever.
     
  4. Casimir Harlow

    Casimir Harlow
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    yeah that's the trouble with movies like this. fans of Jet Li and martial arts are likely to find the fight scenes substantial enough to entertain and the plot better than you get in your average martial arts fest. those who are more in favour of films like Crash (which was very thoughtful but not one i would watch for 'fun' - whereas I would return to the fights in this quite happily) are going to think it's pretty poor. i'm not saying people don't like both - i do - i just think those with a bias distinctly towards one may not find quite what they are looking for in the other...

    oh, btw t'was i that reviewed it. Seth is a faithful uploader and co-reviewer who has the joyful job of posting all of our works :thumbsup:
     
  5. john R1

    john R1
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    to set the record straight i like jet li i thought kiss of the dragon, the one, etc were good films i just did not think danny the dog was any good
     
  6. neuty

    neuty
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    i bought danny the dog on the strength of this review,and the fact that besson had written it.
    i thought the film was exellent,well acted and well shot .
    i can also see it may not be to everyone`s taste,but thats movies for you ,if everyone always liked the same films it would be quite boring .
    good films always stir good conversation
     

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