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Unleashed [P&S]

Unleashed [P&S]
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$7.50 list: price $12.98 save $5.48 (42%)

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Reviewer:Jason Buchanan, An action movie that attempts to balance bone-crunching brutality with considerable heart and soul, Jet Li's second teaming with French action icon Luc Besson blends some genuinely exciting fight scenes with a refreshing sincerity rarely seen in high-octane Hollywood blockbusters. Borrowing considerably from Besson's own Léon (albeit turning the concept of that earlier effort on its head in favor of exploring the plight of a lost but essentially innocent soul sadistically manipulated for evil means rather than an innocent soul corrupted by tragedy), this variation on the familiar theme may ultimately prove too emotionally heavy-handed for hardcore action fans, though the thoughtful balance of tear-jerking and tough-guy posturing may be the ideal compromise for those nights when couples can't seem to choose between explosions and emotions. By now, even the most casual American action fan is well aware of star Li's remarkable skills as a martial artist, and though Transporter director Louis Leterrier shows considerable skill in staging a stylish and spatially believable action scene, his @MTV quick-cut sensibilities ultimately undermine the star's considerable natural abilities. Unlike many modern-day action stars, Li has trained his entire life to perfect the fighting skills that have elevated him to international superstardom; when the camera angle changes every tenth of a second, much of the joy of watching him perform ends up getting lost in the shuffle -- and while Li's transformation from killing machine to ice-cream-loving puppy-dog may be a bit too rapid for some, his natural humility makes the transition relatively painless while keeping the pace of the film well on track. Though a phoned-in performance by supporting player Morgan Freeman ultimately lends little to the film's emotional impact, a snarling, scenery-chewing performance by screen veteran Bob Hoskins offers a sadistic and viciously manipulative villain who's easy -- and fun -- to hate. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi