Unleashed (also known as Danny the Dog) is a 2005 action film directed by Louis Leterrier, written by Luc Besson, and co-produced by Jet Li and Besson. It stars Li, Morgan FreemanBob Hoskins, and Kerry Condon. 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 Once the collar is on, Danny is a harmless, withdrawn person, with very little knowledge of how to live as a socialised human, and he is constantly bullied by Bart, whom Danny perceives as his master.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, Bart is attacked by another criminal and is left for dead after being shot by a semi-automatic weapon. A critically 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 starts 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 causes him to fall 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 is arrested 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.



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 United States box office.


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”. And the song Two Rocks and a Cup of Water was played in one of the trailers to I Am Legend.

  1. “Opening Title” – 1:10
  2. “Atta’ Boy” – 1:29
  3. “P Is for Piano” – 1:57
  4. “Simple Rules” – 1:20
  5. “Polaroid Girl” – 2:59
  6. “Sam” – 3:08
  7. “One Thought at a Time” – 4:23
  8. “Confused Images” – 1:59
  9. “Red Light Means Go” – 2:04
  10. “Collar Stays On” – 1:51
  11. “You’ve Never Had a Dream” – 2:46
  12. “Right Way to Hold a Spoon” – 3:19
  13. “Everybody’s Got a Family” – 1:29
  14. “Two Rocks and a Cup of Water” – 2:32
  15. “Sweet Is Good” – 1:33
  16. “Montage” – 1:54
  17. “Everything About You Is New” – 2:25
  18. “The Dog Obeys” – 2:19
  19. “Danny the Dog” – 5:53
  20. “I Am Home” – 4:14
  21. “The Academy” – 1:45
Bonus tracks

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

  1. “Baby Boy” – 3:28 (Thea Van Seijen)
  2. “Unleash Me” – 2:36 (The RZA feat. Prodigal Sunn & Christbearer of Northstar)


  1. UNLEASHED (18)”British Board of Film Classification. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
  2. “Danny The Dog”. Unifrance.org. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  3. Jump up to:a b c “Unleashed”Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
  4. “Unleashed”Rotten TomatoesFandango. May 13, 2005. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  5. “Unleashed Reviews”Metacritic.com. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  6. Ebert, Roger (May 12, 2005). “Unleashed (R)”Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved April 16, 2010.
  7. Rothkopf, Joshua, ed. (April 29, 2016). “The 100 best action movies”Time Out. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  8.  Rothkopf, Joshua, ed. (April 29, 2016). “The 100 best action movies: 70-61”Time Out. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  9. James, Allison (May 19, 2005). “Farrow inks to star in Besson’s ‘ArthurVariety.
  10. “Danny the Dog: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Massive Attack”Allmusic.

External links


Louis Leterrier


13th May 2005