The trailer for "UNLEASHED" is deceiving. It gives the impression of being excessively violent and the quick abridged, suggested storyline, is certain to scare off many of the "art-film" lovers, that would actually appreciate the film, if given the chance. The plot revolves around a man(Jet Li) raised from childhood, as sort of a "Pavlov's dog" to bully the victims and opposition of Bob Hoskin's crime-lord character, whenever the collar he wears is removed. Without giving away too much, Jet Li crosses paths with Morgan Freeman as a new sort of mentor, and his life slowly begins to change. That is, until, his past catches up with him.
Sure, the flashbacks revealing what led to Li's original indentured servitude, are somewhat heavy-handed, but the film has a surprising amount of heart and kindness to it, lying just beneath a violent surface.
UNIVERSAL has has released "UNLEASHED" as an HD-DVD Combo format, with the HD-DVD on one side and the standard dvd on the other. Unfortunately, only the "R" rated version is offered, while there was an "UNRATED" dvd version. Why there was a decision to release the "lesser" of two possible versions is a mystery.
UNIVERSAL has preserved the film's 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It's a remarkable transfer. Even while maintaining a gritty atmosphere, grain isn't ever problematic. The detail is fantastic, not just with the pores of characters' skin, but also relating to small graphics and the trademark on a piano. "UNLEASHED" has an intentional "dark" look to it, yet there's an incredible amount of detail in the darkest scenes. Blacks and grays are easily distinguished and colors are solid, although typically and intentionally not vibrant.
UNIVERSAL has provided a DOLBY DIGITAL PLUS 5.1 mix. It's one of the most aggressive and well-crafted mixes we've heard on HD-DVD! From the opening credits to the end credits, the sound environment is consistently dazzling, offering a multitude of well balanced and layered effects. The all important music, an essential theme to the plotline, is beautiful and perfectly rendered here.
UNIVERSAL has carried over most of the extras from the previous dvd, but they're only available on the standard dvd version found on the opposite side.