Starring: Jet Li, Morgan Freeman
Director: Louis Letterier
IT is very hard to put together the Jet Li of his Hong Kong films and his fine lead role in Zhang Yimou’s Hero with the Jet Li of his Hollywood and western action thrillers like Kiss of the Dragon, The One and Cradle 2 the Grave.
These latter are potboilers of the most basic kind – one is tempted to say, after looking at some of the brutally staged fights, of the most base, violent kind.
Unleashed seems to be two films which gradually converge.
The foremost story involves Li as a kind of wild child brought up in Glasgow (a rather strange setting for this story with not many Scots accents to be heard) as a lethal fighter at a fight club. His guardian is played by Bob Hoskins with few holds barred.
This is an ugly, thuggy film.
Then there is the other film where Li takes refuge with a kin blind piano tuner and his stepdaughter.
Li can at last see another kind of life as well as discover the dastardly death of his mother and why he has been a prisoner in Glasgow.
Since the blind man is played by Morgan Freeman, he brings great dignity and presence (and his fine voice) to a film that you wouldn’t expect to find him in.
Of course, the two strands come together again for a last bout of violence. The trouble with this kind of entertainment (unlike Jackie Chan who opts for martial arts and fun) is that it is so often brutal and ugly.