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UNLEASHED

Luc Bessonís penchant for postmodern pastiche is clear to anyone whoís seen The Fifth Element. In his latest screenplay, he spins a yarn about disparate lifestyles and value systems whose knotty weave is perhaps most evident in the casting: Jet Li, Bob Hoskins, and Morgan Freeman. Bessonís three-act structure creates a fairy-tale world where evil is hellish and good is godly. Itís the perspective of a child, or in this case an ass-kicking martial-arts wiz (Li) kept in a cage and dog collar by a boorish loan shark (Hoskins). When his collar comes off, the otherwise docile Danny turns feral and kills Bartís debtors. In a bizarre second-act twist, Danny moves in with a blind piano tuner (Freeman) and his brace-faced stepdaughter and discovers a love for Mozart and stir-fry. At the end, these worlds crash head-on and all hell breaks loose. Unleashed is ludicrous, but not so much as you might think. Even if the Freeman chapter reeks preposterous, Li manages to be adorable in his turn as human-Rottweiler-meets-Dr.-Phil. And in spite of Bessonís schizoid script, director Louis Leterrier cooks up a grimy and coherent Glasgow with a pinch of Peter Greenaway and a handful of sass. (103 minutes)

BY MATTIAS FREY

Issue Date: May 20 - 26, 2005
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