The nature of Jet Li’s character in Unleashed raises questions about his age. Exactly how old was Danny supposed to be in the movie?
The interesting premise behind Jet Li’s character in Unleashed raises questions about his age. In Unleashed (also known as Danny the Dog in some countries), Jet Li’s Danny is a martial arts prodigy held captive by the bloodthirsty Glasgow loan shark Bart and is trained to attack Bart’s enemies like a wild dog on command. When Danny is separated from Bart and taken in by Morgan Freeman’s character and his step-daughter, he finally experiences kindness and must fight for his freedom when Bart returns.
Unleashed is often hailed as Jet Li’s best English-language movie, combining a powerful story of a young man regaining his freedom and his humanity with some of the most intense and powerful martial arts fights of Li’s career. Li’s performance as Danny is also very moving, but the film also leaves some questions about Danny’s past unanswered, such as exactly what his age is. However, there are clues in the movie and some behind-the-scenes material about Danny’s age.
Jet Li’s Danny Is In His Mid-To-Late 20s In Unleashed
In the featurette included on the Unleashed DVD and Blu-ray The Collar Come Off: Behind The Scenes Of Unleashed, Jet Li says that, mentally speaking, Danny is “around 10 years old,” and this matches up well with flashbacks to Danny’s childhood. In Danny’s gradually re-emerging childhood memories, the young Danny looks to be about 10 when Bart arrives, kills his mother, and kidnaps Danny (in contrast to Bart’s lie that he adopted Danny after the death of his mother, whom Bart falsely claims was a prostitute). Bart is also visibly younger in these flashbacks, and these help paint a picture of how long he has had Danny in captivity.
With Danny and Bart’s age differences between the flashbacks and the present tense story of Unleashed, it seems like a good estimate that at least 15 years have passed since Bart first kidnapped Danny. Going by that and Danny’s rough age of 10 at the time, this would make Danny somewhere in his mid-to-late 20s when Unleashed begins. In all, the best guess for Danny’s age in Unleashed is likely somewhere between 25 and 28 years old.
How Danny’s Age In Unleashed Compares To Jet Li’s True Age
While Danny seems to in his mid or late 20s in Unleashed, Jet Li himself was a good bit older than his character. Jet Li was 42 when Unleashed was released in 2005, and was around 40 at the time of filming based on production reports. While this is a fairly sizable age difference between Danny and Jet Li himself, Li had the look of someone within Danny’s age range in Unleashed, give or take a few years. Li’s performance as Danny in Unleashed is what really makes him convincing in the role, thus rendering the age gap unimportant.
In Unleashed, Danny is a young man treated like an animal for most of his life, one who has known only violence, and who never had a chance to truly grow up. Jet Li masterfully embodies Danny’s unbridled viciousness when Bart removes his collar, along with Danny’s growing tenderness as he is taken in by Sam and Victoria and shown love for the first time in his life. Unleashed combines heartwarming drama and unbelievable action better than any other English language movie Jet Li has anchored. Because of that, Jet Li is fully believable as a man much physically and mentally younger than he really is in Unleashed.