Emmy Iyerwrote on May 16 2011 7:30PM
Bart (Bob Hoskins) is a vicious loan shark whose method of persuading men to pay him back involves Danny (Jet Li), a man with the mentality of a child; only if a metal collar around his neck is removed by Bart will he become a violently skilled fighter who stops at nothing to take down his targets. But once the collar is on, Danny is a harmless, withdrawn person, with very little knowledge of how to live as a socialized person, constantly bullied by his master Bart.
One day, Bart realizes he can end his loan shark career by regularly attending an underground fighting tournament and registering Danny to fight; in exchange, if Danny can win and survive the fights, he receives good money. However, a mishap with another criminal leaves Bart critically injured; Danny runs off to an antique warehouse for shelter, where he had met a kindly piano tuner earlier. Two days later he finds himself in the company of Sam (Morgan Freeman) and his adopted daughter Victoria in their apartment, and he starts a new life with the benevolent family; curiously he is drawn closer to music while spending time with Victoria. He also develops curiosity about who his mother was when he learns from Sam and Victoria what a family is.
Weeks later Sam informs Danny about moving back to New York, where he and Victoria are originally from. He invites Danny, telling him they think of him as family, and Danny happily accepts. However, Danny runs into Bart’s right-hand man Lefty in the streets and is forced back to Bart. At the underground arena, a fight is set between Danny and deadly martial artists to the death. Despite Danny’s pleas, Bart shoves him into the pit, where he is pummeled by four fighters. Danny eventually retaliates, but refuses to kill them. Enraged by Danny’s change of character, Bart shuts him back to his cage. That night, however, Danny sneaks through his door and goes through photographs of Bart’s favorite prostitutes, finally finding one snapshot of who appears to be Danny’s own mother. He interrogates Bart, who tells him that she was simply a prostitute who is long gone. He angrily promises to make Danny repay him for the money he had lost.
Next morning, however, Danny manages to escape and runs back to Sam and Victoria, telling them what he had learned and where he was. With the two's help, Danny regains memories from his childhood past: his mother was a music student with no money, so she offered herself to Bart to get some to pay for her lessons. But one day, Bart shot her when she defied him. Bart has been raising Danny ever since, not as a human being, but as a dog.
Bart and a plethora of thugs arrive to capture Danny. Frantic, Danny hides Sam and Victoria in their closet, and he runs out to take out the thugs in the building and on the rooftop. He then faces off against an attacker (Michael Ian Lambert) with skills similar to, if not greater than his own, eventually causing him to fall to his death on Bart's car. A vengeful Bart pursues him through the building, finally catching him in Sam's apartment. He threatens to pull the trigger, all the while telling him that he was never meant for a different kind of lifestyle. But he drops the gun and instead takes out a collar, telling Danny to come home. Danny slowly advances toward the collar, but stops Bart at the last minute and disarms him. He proceeds to furiously beat Bart. Sam and Victoria both burst out and frantically beg Danny not to kill; however, a defeated Bart orders Danny otherwise. Bart then tells Danny he will always be an animal, to which Sam responds by smashing a flower pot on his head, knocking him unconscious. Some time later, Danny is with Sam at a piano recital, where Victoria is getting ready to perform. Realizing Victoria is playing what his mother played years ago, Danny sheds a happy tear.