A film by René Sampaio, BRAZILIAN WESTERN is a film adaptation of the popular song "Faroeste Caboclo" by Brazilian music icon Renato Russo and tells the story of love, blood and revenge. João de Santo Cristo is a young man who leaves his impoverished home behind in search of a better life. Arriving in Brasilia, he soon falls for the beautiful Maria Lúcia, the daughter of a senator. But as their relationship flourishes, João's involvement in drug trafficking causes him to slide deeper and deeper through a downward spiral of crime and violence. The stakes become even greater as João finds himself on a collision course with playboy drug dealer Jeremias, his rival in business – and for the heart of Maria Lúcia.
Brazilian director Rene Sampaio has delivered a gritty and stylish gangster movie set in Brazil. He has combined a western undertone, which is why this film is called 'Brazilian Western'. Rolling Stone Magazine says this film is a lot like 'Romeo and Juliet'. While you may see that poetic tragedy between two people here, the film plays out a bit like 'Scarface' as well. There isn't really anything new or fresh with this story, as I'm sure you've all seen or heard this before, but it's how Sampaio tells us this story and Fabricio Boliveira's performance that really makes this film worth watching.
The film takes place some twenty years ago or so when Brazil's political and social climate where on the verge of major change. The drug trade and corrupt cops were in the spotlight, which is where we meet a young Joao (Boliveira), who is seen killing an officer of the law. Through flashbacks, we see why this took place, and how times have changed as Joao has gotten older.
Due to his skin color and poor upbringing, it didn't seem like Joao had much of a choice in what he was destined to do. It was either make furniture for low wages or get involved in the drug trade. Joao decided to do both, but when he meets a beautiful young woman named Maria Lucia (Isis Valverde), the daughter of a wealthy and powerful senator, Joao changes his mind to become straight laced.
But, a rival drug lord named Jeremias (Felipe Abib) has diabolical plans for Joao, even though he's out of the drug game, which forces Joao back into a life of violence and drugs, with nobody looking out for him. Parts of this movie are difficult to watch, due to the gory violent scenes that take place with certain characters, but it never seems gratuitous.
Besides telling a tragic yet great story, Sampaio wanted to show what the political and social issues were in this particular part of the world where skin color mattered at this point in time. You can't just help but feel sorry for the characters here, because Boliveira gives us an excellent performance with Joao as he struggles to always do the right thing, but never catches a break. As the walls come tumbling down on him, we soon figure out there is no escape for him, which Sampaio plays out in true, typical western fashion.
'Brazilian Western' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. This image really pops from start to finish and has a somewhat gritty yellowish tint from time to time. This was an intentional decision to give the film a look of despair. The detail is vivid and sharp, particularly in closeups where each line and wrinkle in the actor's skin comes across clear. Every bead of sweat, speck of dirt, and drop of blood shows up nicely as well.
The wider shots have a good amount of detail too, giving this picture some great depth. Colors are well balanced and crushed at times to give the viewer a raw sense of action. Black levels are deep and inky and the skin tones are natural. There was a minor amount of crush in the lower lit scenes with some very minor video noise, but it's really nothing to get upset about. Shout Factory has done a great job here with this video presentation.
This release comes with a great lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio track in its original Portuguese language with English subtitles. This is a fairly powerful audio track, which is heightened by its excellent soundtrack and heavy sound effects. The sound effects are loud, robust, and pack a punch, especially when guns are fired or where a poor unfortunate soul is getting roughed up. These noises sound real and have some great directionality. The ambient sounds of the slum villages and bigger cities all sound full and come through the rear speakers nicely.
Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops, cracks, or hiss. The bass rumbles from time to time, particularly during the heavier action scenes too. The one problem I had here were the subtitles. The English doesn't flow very well and there are tons of mistakes throughout. Other than that, the LFE is great and the dynamic range is quite wide, leaving this audio presentation with solid marks.
Making of Featurette (HD, 26 Mins.) - A decent look at the making of the film with on set footage, behind the scenes information, and on site interviews with the filmmakers and actors.
Trailers (HD, 4 Mins.) - Trailers for the film.
'Brazilian Western' is quite good. This new gangster film set in Brazil is raw, emotional, and has a unique style that makes this film stand on its own, despite some of the usual genre tropes and cliches we see with these types of films. Fabricio Boliveira gives one hell of a performance as do the other actors involved. The video and audio presentations are both solid and the one behind the scenes extra is worth watching. If you're a fan of new and exciting gangster films, then you'll want to see this one.