Category: DVD and Blue Ray Releases or Classics

Rarely does one find a movie that so seamlessly meshes bone crushing violence with heart stopping beauty, but that is exactly what one finds in Unleashed. Directed by Louis Leterrier (The Transporter,Transporter 2) and written by Luc Besson (Taken, and The Transporter franchise), Unleashed skirted right under the general radar back in May of 2005, raking in only around 10 million it’s opening weekend, and just barely coming to 50 million in its national gross. Those kind of earnings only just managed to pay for the 45 million price tag for making the movie, and certainly did not inspire much buzz. However, often is the diamond looked over amongst the sparkling glass around it. That same weekend Monster-in-Law,Kicking & Screaming grabed the top spots above it, and the cinema waters were also muddied by the releases of Kingdom of Heaven the week before and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith the weekend after. So it is not surprising that Unleashed did not get the recognistion that perhaps it so rightly deserved.

There is little doubt in my mind that the cast alone should have been enough to let the savy movie viewer know that this movie had something special going for it. Featureing such names as Jet Li (Fearless, Hero), Morgan Freeman (Invictus, The Shawshank Redemption), and Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Ruby Blue) . These three actors alone command respect from a number of varied genres and their respctive fan bases. However, despite these three shinning stars, not to mention the endearing performance by a young Kerry Condon, who would go on to dazzle HBO viewers in the original serries “Rome”; Unleashed was still over looked as the wonderful work that it is.

Unleashed is the story of a man raised as a dog, an attack dog, complete with leash and kennel. Jet Li plays Danny, a simple young man raised from a child by Bart (Bob Hoskins), a local loan shark, to be one thing and one thing only; an attack dog. “Get them young enough, and the possabilties are endless”, this phrase is used more than once by Bart through out the movie. Bart took the young boy Danny and treated him like a dog, but also trained him to be a killer. And with the release of his collar that is exactly what Danny becomes. A very helpful tool to have for someone who collects money for a living. But, while a rabid killing dog is what Bart made of Danny, it is still not the sum of all that he is. While leashed he is very much a little boy still, unsure and submissive; until something very amazing happens, Danny hears the melody of a piano.

While on the job Danny is waiting to be called into action, and he comes into contact with a blind piano tuner named Sam (Morgan Freeman), they talk only briefly but it makes an impression on Danny. After a violent incident that leaves Bart apparently dead, Danny manages to get away and goes back to the last place he saw Sam. Sam takes him in and he ,along with his musicaly gifted step daughter Victoria, bring Danny into a world he could not remember from his childhood, a world he had forgot exisited, a world of love and  family.

Along with Sam and Victoria, Danny slowly begins to become a person again and with each day the killer within begins to slip away, but he still does not dare to take the collar off for fear of what he may do to those he has come to love. Also, Danny’s mind is opening as he is exposed to the piano music that Sam and Victoria play around him, his mind begins to wander back to a time, to certain notes, and finally to small memories of his mother.

But life is never simple, and in time Bart returns and discovers that Danny is still alive and comes for him. Suddenly Danny’s new life of love and family is brought violently into odds with his old life of death and violence. Can Danny lose the collar and the violent life that went with it, or is he a dog, a killer, always waiting for the call of his master and the click of his collar?

Unleashed is an amazing demonstration of how to appeal to two vastly different audiences while not alienating the other. The action scenes are exactly what we have come to expect from Jet Li and his stunt and fight company. The battles are seamless and amazing to behold as his dance of martial arts and movement bring the story into a full blown adrenelin rush of action packed awe. However, the fight sequences make up only a small portion of the story because to my mind the the true beauty of this story is the music and how it shapes and colors the enviroments that Danny finds himself. This film has two sides to it, the gritty, bloody, violent side that takes place whenever Danny is with Bart. On the flip side we see Danny happy, growing, and loved while he is with Sam and Victoria. These two sides are illustrated beautifuly in the score.

Jet Li is amazing as he switches from Danny to the violent dog at the click of his collar. The most enjoyable part of his performance may be his portrayal of innocence and child-like wonder as he is shown the world he never had at the hands of Morgan Freeman and Kerry Condon. Morgan Freeman is the quentisential father figure in this touching piece where he takes in what is essentially a wounded dog and helps bring him to a healthy loving place. Kerry Condon is charming and lovely in this film and her interaction with Jet Li is very sweet, but nothing is more beautiful than the moments they share at the piano. With the good comes the bad, and Bob Hoskins plays an amazing bad guy, you love to hate him because while Bart is a horrible character, Bob Hoskins brings so much life and color to this villain that he makes it a pleasure to watch the monster at work.

Over all I highly reccomend this movie to anyone who loves a good action film, but does not want the movie to be all fight and no substance. The fighting skill in this movie is only matched by the beauty of the acting and the wonderful piano music. Beauty and violence mesh in an intricate dance set to a master pianist’s masterpiece in this incredible movie and you should definitely take a look, and that’s how I see it.

If you enjoy this film you should check out:

The Professional

The Transporter

The Fifth Element

© David Carl Dobbs and How Dobbs Sees it, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Carl Dobbs and How Dobbs Sees it with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Just like any other night,  you begin to go through  your routine, step by step,  the same old hum-drum  life. Another day another  dollar life style is what you  are used to, but on this  night, for no real reason,  one decision, one final  choice changes everything  and sends you spiraling  down into a world where  nothing you know is true  anymore and the only way  out, is to become someone  you never thought you  could be. That is what  happened to Max when he  decided to pick up Vincent  in his cab.

Collateral is an edge of  your seat action suspense  movie that pulls you into a  dark, night time world  where harsh and terrible  actions are countered with  polite, philosophical  conversation. In it  we look at the lives of two men, one a skilled, calculating hit man who looks at his life with a cold logic that allows him to freely go about his bloody life without any question of conscience. The other, a simple man with far-reaching dreams mired in a poor 9 to 5 life. And one cab ride brings them together in a dangerous nerve biting story of death, life risking decisions, and revelations of two men’s true character.

Collateral came out in 2004 and managed a modest 24 million opening weekend and managed close to 218 million in world-wide gross. It starred Tom Cruise, of Knight and Day and Valkyrie, as Vincent; a gun for hire who has come into town two complete a list of hits for his client. Unaware of his alterior motives at first, Jamie Foxx, best known for his work in The Soloist and Ray, plays Max; a simple cabbie working the night shift, agrees to be Vincent’s ride for the night, but after a body drops on his cab at the first stop the illusion is destroyed and he is pulled along at gun point to complete Vincent’s work.

As they go about Vincent’s business the two men talk about why Vincent feels his work is justifiable and why Max has never gone further in his life. Max tries to talk Vincent into seeing the wrongness of his life while Vincent shows Max just how weak he is letting himself be. As the two go from one hit to another Max becomes more and more of the man that he could be, if only to survive to see the morning. The problem is, as Max learns more and more about what Vincent is doing in town and why, he realizes that one of the names on his list is the woman he just met earlier in the night. Annie , played by Jada Pinkett Smith, is a prosecutor who is unaware that her case is going to get her killed and that the only person who can save her is the cabbie she flirted with on her way to the office.

The city streets along with the wonderful score, supplied  by Destino De Abril, provide the perfect back drop for this wonderfully unwinding story of violence draped in civility. This movie demonstrates Tom Cruise’s ability to assume varied character styles as well reveals the true acting ability of Jamie Foxx. Truthfully before this movie I had no respect for Jamie Foxx, as this movie came out before Ray, but this film really allowed him to showcase his versatility and ability to really make you feel for a character, because as cool as the character of Vincent is, it is Max’s story and it is his journey that really makes you love this movie.

So, if you are looking for a movie that draws you not only into the lives of the character portrayed, but the world they are living and dying in, then Collateral is the movie you should take a look at, and that is how I see it.

If you like this, you might enjoy:

Man on Fire

La Femme Nikita

Law Abiding Citizen

© David Carl Dobbs and How Dobbs Sees it, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Carl Dobbs and How Dobbs Sees it with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Brick: a Detective movie by Rian Johnson

I admit I love a good Noir film. Sit me down and give me some across the tracks hero, a        stunning fem fatale and boat load of intrigue and I’m hooked. Dropping names like “The Big Sleep“, “The Maltese Falcon” and “Dark Passage” would put anyone on the right track of  finding great and well-known noir films to sink their teeth into. However, “Brick” did not get the  popular attention I think it deserves, and if any movie has the capability and the moxy to become  a cult noir classic, it is this movie.

Brick is also interesting because it takes a story style that was popular in the 1940’s and  modernizes it to a more present day atmosphere without killing any of the style’s architecture or  altering the classic and well-loved archetypes of the genre. The movie takes place in your  average mid-west high school and focuses on the path of Brendan Frye, a kid on the out skirts of  popular school society, but who has an ear and a finger on all the different clicks that make up  the culture of high school. The central hub of the story lies in the mysterious death of his former  girl friend. As he goes off the high school “grid” to find out her story and learn who is  responsible he ends up taking us all on a dark trail of deception and half-truths that keep us  wondering who’s side is the right side, who can you trust, and finally what lengths does  someone go for lost love?

With out a doubt I am a fan of the language used in this movie, like its’ genre has always  given us, this movie is rifled with turns of phrase and jargon that paints the gritty, bluff them or  beat them, life on a pin style of this movie better than any set designer could hope to capture.  Listening to this movie is more than being entertained by the story, which is good enough to  keep you glued, but also about listening to an even flow of words that mix and mesh and force  your mind to really think about some of the terms used in order to really grab hold of the  situation.

The characters make up a gallery of interesting, multi-layered, and hard-boiled  individuals so enjoyable and convincing that you give high praise to the casting director Shannon Makhanian, also responsible for Hatchet and The Brothers Bloom, for assigning such excellent young actors to play the parts. From Joseph Gordon-Levitt (recently starring in (500) Days of Summer) who plays our lonesome hero Brendan, to the features fem fatale Laura, played by the lovely and provocative Nora Zehetner of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Heroes” notoriety.  Also in this we find our local king pin of crime in this suburban area, ironically enough called  “The Pin” played by Lukas Haas, and his number one henchman Tug, played by Noah Fleiss.

How are these people involved in the murder of Brendan’s ex? What is this “brick” everyone keeps referring to and how will Brendan find out all the answers he needs before someone drops the dime on him as the murder of his ex-girlfriend? To find out all of this and more I highly recommend going out and renting this provocative whodunit. Or move it to the top of your Netflix line up, I can pretty much guarantee if you like a good murder mystery, or are also a fan of the noir film genre, then you will enjoy this movie.

Below I’m going to give you just a little taste, but remember, the first taste is free, the rest is up to you to.

I give “Brick” a 4.5 out of 5 stars, And that’s how I see it.

If you like these movies you will more than likely enjoy this one, and vice versa is true.

The Lookout

Mysterious Skin

The Brothers Bloom

Hard Candy

© David Carl Dobbs and How Dobbs Sees it, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Carl Dobbs and How Dobbs Sees it with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.