Andy Beckwith

Andy Beckwith

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Snatch Review


Excellent
Madonna's new husband, Guy Ritchie, couldn't have timed his recent marriage any better. Intentional or not, it came a mere week before the opening of his new film Snatch, the follow-up to his Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. With Madonna as a willing shill, you couldn't ask for better publicity.

Turns out you didn't need it, Guy. Snatch is a film that stands perfectly on its own merits while it shoots bullet holes in everything in sight.

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Unleashed Review


OK
Giving his first English-language performance to show any range of actingability, martial-arts superstar Jet Li is inspired in "Unleashed"as a man-child raised in a cage by a minor-league Glasgow loan shark andtrained for one Pavlovian purpose: To instinctively attack like a dog whenhis master (Bob Hoskins) snaps off the collar kept around his neck.

The threat of "you don't pay, the collar comes off"is often all the vicious Hoskins needs to scare every penny due out oftardy debtors -- but not so often that Li doesn't get a good workout throughoutthe film. Director Louis Leterrier ("TheTransporter"), master fight choreographerYuen Wo-Ping ("KungFu Hustle," "TheMatrix," "KillBill") and the ever-limber Li unleash severalraucously raw and instinctive fight scenes when Hoskins lets his animalloose.

But "Unleashed" is ultimately a character-drivenstory, and Li rises to the occasion when a twist of fate, machine-gun fireand car-wreck carnage set him free with no skills for coping in the realworld. Scared and confused, he's taken in by a blind piano tuner (MorganFreeman) and his sweetly gawky 18-year-old stepdaughter (Kerry Condon),who are similarly out of their element as Americans living in Scotland(where, curiously, no one speaks with a Scottish accent). Through thissurrogate family, his humanity begins to emerge in a series of well-writtenscenes in which Li perfectly balances his character's wide-eyed innocenceand newfound joy with the violent impulses that lurk uncomfortably in thedark recesses of his battered psyche.

Written by Luc Besson ("The Professional," "TheFifth Element"), who has a gift for creativeaction-movie concepts but a bad habit of dumbing them down, "Unleashed"has its clumsy moments, especially when it comes to the folksy wisdom andaltruism thrust upon Freeman (who nonetheless makes his role believable).But the movie is balanced out with more interesting characters in the girl(who in this kind of movie would normally be a babe), the gangster (Hoskinsturns him into an extremely twisted father figure), and Li's hero, whosenew life (and new respect for life) is threatened when Hoskins returnsfrom near-death to hunt him down.

Continue reading: Unleashed Review

Andy Beckwith

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