REVIEWS: Docs / Other films — July 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm

REVIEW: Brando Unathorized (2011)

This Damian Chapa directed picture has recently surfaced, and sometime before that it has already been creating some buzz online – afterall, it’s Marlon Brando we’re talking about, arguably one of the best actors of all time.

Chapa has been known to direct biographical films about well-known personalities (before Brando, he shot films about Roman Polanski, a famous director, and Bobby Fischer, one of the great chess masters).

I did notice that all of them, Brando, Polanski and Fischer were people who stood out, they were all different from the crowd, rebels of their own society.

Brando and Fischer are no longer with us, while Polanski is still around. In his interview with me, Chapa stated that he made these films, while being prepared for the various attacks from film critics…which, I would have been expecting as well, if I was in Chapa’s shoes.

Anyway, let’s get back to “Brando Unathorized” (Chapa also claimed he nearly died when shooting one of the scenes in the film, you can read it here).

The film is about 2 hours long, and it covers Brando’s life (Brando is being played by Chapa, who also wrote and directed the film) from the very beginning (vividly showing how Brando’s parents could not stand each other), later moving on to Brando’s “Streetcar” days, on to “The Godfather”, legendary actor’s love affairs, his enormous appetite, up until the days when his son Christian Brando got jailed, his daughter who comitted suicide, and ultimately the death of Brando himself.

Genius actor. Controversial man. A parent with turmoil.

The whole story is being told from his elder son’s perspective (played by Chapa’s own son – Ricco Chapa), with all the “drug-related” issues thrown in. As for Damian Chapa he does a fairly good job as Brando, and it really shows that he loves being Brando (who wouldn’t?!).

I am in no way an expert on real Brando’s bio, so I cannot really comment on some of the scenes in the film, if they were real or not (as the one where on the set of “Godfather”, Brando drops his pants down, and later is being threatened by the real mafiosos who invade the set).

Aside from that, I believe the sfx specialists could have done a better job on showing us Brando when he got older, as the whole makeup (with Brando being overweight and half bald) – looks just ridiculous and very fake.

They tried their best to hide it, but did not work out very well. Other than that, the film was quite interesting.

Of course, Chapa could not cover every aspect of Brando’s life, both on and off the camera (nothing on “Last Tango in Paris” and almost nothing on “Apocalypse Now”), which was a letdown, however this starts to distract only by the end of the film.

This is by no means a hollywood movie, and it shows. On the bright side, after watching this movie, I actually caught myself thinking more of what the real Marlon Brando was like… Maybe I should check out some of his earlier movies, thanks to Damian Chapa, whom I still remember (and probably always will) as the guy who portrayed Ken Masters in the “Street Fighter” movie.

If you’re not afraid to watch an independent feature, that “Brando Unathorized” is, give it a try. It’s a somewhat sad story of a great, once gorgeous, talented actor, who brought himself down in almost every sense of the word. Damian Chapa just sends us a reminder with this little film.



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