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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Gangster keeps Jet Li locked in a cage, with a collar, and beats him savagely.
Violence & Scariness
Graphic, loud, specific martial arts and weapons.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Gangster engages in brief, brutal sex with prostitutes.
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Many and varied uses of the f-word.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink and smoke.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this film is extremely violent and isn't meant for kids. The fight scenes include the sounds of bones breaking, with prominent displays of blood, bruising, and limbs twisting. The premise itself is potentially distressing, as it has a young boy imprisoned and trained to fight on command by a loud-mouthed loan shark; he sets the grown-up version (Jet Li) loose on his debtors by growling "Get 'em!", feeds him chunks of food, locks him in a cage, and calls him his "dog." The underclass villains use harsh and colorful language (frequent use of "f--k," in multiple formations). The gangster assaults prostitutes on top of cars. Jet Li fights in an underground betting arena (like dogfights), where contestants use large knives and hammers, though eventually the gangsters become frustrated and use automatic weapons too. Many characters are killed in hand-hand-combat. There is a very disturbing scene where a child sees his mother shot in the head in front of him. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
While ferocious, the fight scenes in Unleashed are also frankly awesome, brilliantly choreographed and inventively shot. The film's narrative combines melodrama, martial arts conventions (underdog wins, intelligence overcomes brawn), and sly twists on formula. Though it's not quite satire, the film does show that its makers know their genre history and expect viewers to keep up.
This is a rare action film in that it raises questions concerning identity, memory, and the effects of abuse. Danny's aggression (visceral and brutal in the film's stop- and slow-motion, time lapse speediness) stems from his abuse, not his character. All he has ever known is to attack on command. Once he starts to play music and listen to it carefully, he learns that he doesn't have to hurt people. The film offers a thoughtful (if occasionally battering) meditation on the transcendence of music, and the strength to be gained from family, however ragtag or unusual in structure. Jet Li is excellent, the visual excess is calculated, and the Massive Attack and RZA soundtrack is sharp. Brutal and bizarre, Unleashed is peculiarly moving.
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Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate