Film: Danny the Dog

"You're a dog! You're my dog!"

"We've come to think of you as family, and that's what families do—they stick together."

Danny the Dog (also known as Unleashed in some markets) is a 2005 action movie written by Luc Besson (of The Fifth Element fame) and directed by Louis Leterrier, starring Jet Li, Bob Hoskins and Morgan Freeman.

Danny is a trained assassin, working as an enforcer for his "Uncle Bart", a low-level gangster in Glasgow. He's kept like a dog, in a grate under the floor and wearing a metal collar, conditioned to fight and kill on Bart's orders. When he survives a hit that leaves the gang dead, he stumbles into a blind piano tuner, Sam, and his adopted daughter Victoria, who take him in and teach him to live like a human. But Bart isn't dead, and he wants Danny back.


Tropes used include:

  • A Boy and His X: Inverted since the Boy is the Dog.
  • Attack Animal: Of the brainwashed Super Soldier variety.
  • Ax-Crazy: Lefty, most notable in the final scenes when he's allowed to go after Danny, (but is told by Bart not to kill him.) He gleefully disregards Bart's orders and opens fire with a sadistic grin on his face the whole time. When he corners Danny in one of the unoccupied apartments, he beats on the door with his pistols, howling all the while.
  • Badass Adorable: Danny, as he reclaims his humanity.
  • Berserk Button: Danny's collar was meant to be one through mental conditioning when he was with Bart. However after being humanized, his other button is anyone that tries to harm Sam and Victoria.
  • Blind Black Guy: Sam.
  • Blood Sport: An underground fetish club/pit-fighting circuit run by Wyeth.
  • California Doubling: Glasgow doubled for London.
  • Close-Call Haircut: In the fight with the machete wielding bald guy.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: During Danny's first fight at the pit-fighting circuit, he goes up against the reigning champ who shows off his toughness by smashing a brick over his head before the fight. When the fight starts, Danny dodges the champ's first punch, punches the guy a few times in the throat, and walks away as the champ falls down dead from a crushed windpipe.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory / Reflexive Response: Initially, Danny doesn't let Sam or Victoria try to remove his collar out of fear he'll beat them to a pulp.
  • Defusing the Tyke Bomb: Sam and Victoria towards Danny.
  • The Determinator: Bart, surprisingly.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Played straight when Danny is with Bart, completely and heartwarmingly subverted when Sam adopts him.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Hell yeah.
  • The Fagin: Bart has raised Danny from boyhood to be his attack dog.
  • Forced Prize Fight
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Unusual for a Jet Li film, Danny fights using pure, raw aggression rather than technical martial arts moves, which makes sense given his background. His toughest opponent at the pitfighting bar also uses Good Ole Fisticuffs. He simply grabs whatever's near at hand and swings it at Danny's head.
  • Hidden Depths: Bart - you never seem to know when he's being truthful or simply trying to manipulate Danny. Whatever his motive, he has much more going on beneath the surface.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Sam says this to Danny near the end.
  • Improvised Weapon User: The sailor-looking pitfighter Danny faces last at the pitfighting bar. He grabs whatever's nearby and smashes it over Danny's head. This is something of a twist, given that all the previous fighters had traditional martial arts styles.
  • Light Is Not Good: A recurring theme throughout the movie - Bart dresses in expensive white suits and gets around in a white vehicle, and the bald, machete-wielding thug at the end of the film is clad in a white robe.
  • Made of Iron: Bart. Who knew Bob Hoskins was so durable? Probably comes from dealing with Roger Rabbit.
  • Magical Negro: Although the target isn't white, Sam is still the one who "normalizes" Danny and teaches him about the proper way of living.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Played with... after a successful day shopping Danny's talents, Bart offers to get Danny a prostitute. Subverted by Danny's response.
    Bart: I could get you a woman! You've never had a woman before, have you?
    Danny: I want a piano.
  • Market-Based Title: Danny the Dog in France and Hong Kong, but Unleashed in the US, UK and Australia.
  • Nice Girl: Victoria almost to the Tastes Like Diabetes levels. The second she sees Danny, despite the latter having No Social Skills, she gives him a friendly hi. Depsite only seeing him for a few seconds she already has questions about him. When Sam tells her, Danny likes music, she gives him her own keyboard for him to practice and even teaches him how to have a duet. Much of it pays off when Victoria is ultimately the one that removes the collar off a nervous Danny. Yet when she does, he never hurts her.
  • No One Could Survive That: Bart's car is riddled with machine-gun fire; Danny only survives because he was shielded by Bart's body. Bart, of course, survives.
  • No Social Skills: Danny was raised as an attack dog.
  • Papa Wolf: Despite his blindness, Sam will do what it takes to protect Victoria and Danny. Danny being a human dog himself also qualifies if anyone tries to hurt the two.
  • Restraining Bolt: Danny's collar.
  • Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred
  • "They Still Belong to Us" Lecture
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: After having lived with Sam and Victoria, Danny decides he won't kill anymore.
  • True Companions: Sam, Victoria and Danny aren't related by blood, but they make a family.
  • Tyke Bomb: Danny, raised from boyhood to be an attack dog.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Danny, with his collar off.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Bart, full stop. He doesn't look the type, but he isn't afraid to get his hands dirty when he needs to.
  • Villains Out Shopping: There are several scenes where Bart and his cohorts are simply chatting in the car, talking about what they would like to do with their lives and their (literal) dreams.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: During the climax, Bart's henchman are swarming the complex. They're never seen after the confrontation between Danny and Bart.
  • You Got Spunk: Much of why Bart adopted Danny instead of killing him, was because he was impressed at how tough Danny was when he rushed his men after killing his mother.
  • You Killed My Father: Danny's mother was murdered by Bart.

Alternative Title(s):

Unleashed, Danny The Dog

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