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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most Powerful Latin-Interest Film in Years, December 11, 2010
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This review is from: La Mission (DVD)
La Mission, set in the streets of San Francisco's Mission District, is easily the most powerful Latin-interest film released in years. Peruvian leading man Benjamin Bratt's brother Peter Bratt directed the film, which focuses on the relationship between a macho bus driver and his son.

Benjamin Bratt is nothing short of brilliant as the tatted-up Che Rivera, a recovering alcoholic with a passion for lowriders, and pride for the academic achievements of his son Jesse. Bratt channels his inner pachuco with genuine swag, in a role destined for him to play.

Che is old-school Chicano to the bone, which makes for tremendous conflict when he discovers his son's sexual orientation. Rivera's son Jesse is played by Jeremy Ray Valdez, a young Latino with serious acting chops, and an infectious smile. Valdez and Bratt share an incredible on-screen chemistry as father and son, and Rivera's intolerance is something many Hispanic viewers will recognize. The stigma attached to homosexuality amongst old-school (and largely Roman-Catholic) Latinos is something almost never confronted in film.

For those of you already saying, "I'm not going to watch this," calm down. This isn't a "gay" movie, but it does address issues that Latinos tend to sweep under the rug. Jesse's orientation serves as a means of revealing who his father Che really is, and uncovering the pain and rage that needed to be healed in the ex-convict. Helping Che battle his inner demons is Lena, the earthy and extremely sexy neighbor who works for a woman's shelter. Played by beautiful morena Erika Alexander (of Living Single fame), Lena attempts to heal the rift between father and son, while dealing with her own fears of Che. Before the film is over, expect plenty of love, anger, and loss.

The rest of the supporting cast also make for an interesting movie. Jesse Borrego, best remembered as the artist Cruz from Bound by Honor, is reunited on-screen with his compadre Benjamin. Bratt's wife Talisa Soto, playing the gorgeous wife to Borrego's character, also rounds out the cast of well-known Latino actors. One of my favorite inclusions to the cast was talented voice actor Kevin Michael Richardson, who adds plenty of great comic relief to keep the film light.

Perhaps the best aspect of this film is that it's genuine. I've seen more than a few movies that try to work in "Latino" themes, only to come off as gimmicky. LA Mission is a movie with alma, real soul. From the clothing and music to the lowriders and pachuco swagger, La Mission gets it right. If you're a car enthusiast, the ranflas in this movie are guaranteed to put a smile on your face. I did think that the references to running a lowrider on biodiesel were tacky and out of place, but props to the film being shot on an environmentally-friendly movie set (one of the only ones in the Bay Area).

The verdict? Hit up your local Redbox tonight and give this one a rent, or better yet buy the DVD online. This is easily the best performance of Bratt's career, in an emotional flick that keeps it real with Latin audiences.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 18, 2014 8:05:32 PM PST
I loved Benjamin Bratt in this movie. He was hot, especially all dressed up and cruising in his low rider. On the serious side, it was really sad with the problems that were created between him and his son when he found out. In the end when the kid who shot his son was gunned down and Che realized that while that kid wouldn't be coming home he still was lucky enough for Jess to still be alive. I would definitely recommend people to see the movie.

Posted on Jun 1, 2014 12:12:24 AM PDT
Nice review. It does a good job summing up the movie and acting without giving too much plot away.

I do have to comment on the "tacky biodiesel" point: for me, a theme running through the core of the movie was change, particularly in society, and how it can be hard for "old-schoolers" to accept it, never mind embrace it.

In this context, the references to gentrification of the neighborhood, a feminist neighbor (leading role no less), a bike as primary transportation, and yes...a biodiesel-powered low-rider, along with a host of other subtle notes, never mind the primary plot device of sexual orientation, seems to me it fits right in.

Why _shouldn't_ a low-rider be biodiesel? Granted, it's not nearly as controversial or socially important an issue as sexual orientation, but I'm having a hard time seeing a big difference between prejudice against gays, and prejudice against biodiesel low-riders.
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