<i>Brother's Justice</i>
Dax Shepard, Nate Tuck and Tom Arnold in Brother's Justice
(Credit: David Palmer)

Some call it an attempt to shake up his career, and actor Dax Shepard scores with a hilarious and original directorial debut.

Brother’s Justice documents Shepard – along with other familiar faces from Hollywood, particularly his pal Tom Arnold – as he follows his desire to leave comedy and become an internationally-renown martial arts star. Arnold agrees with the film’s originality, and even formulates a name for its unique genre.

“I would like to call it a mockbuster; I am really pushing that through – like a blockbuster and mockumentary," Arnold says. "To me, it seemed very real knowing the guys that are in it and knowing the relationships amongst the guys, including Dax and I.”

Arnold further indicates that Shepard’s vision was substantial to the process of making the film. Shepard’s passion was apparent throughout the movie, especially on his quest to gather financial backing when visiting the likes of Ashton Kutcher and Jon Favreau. There are many scenes of Shepard trying to get more individuals from the industry to take part in the movie. A movie that requires real funding. A movie that needs a martial arts script.

An attempt at formulating a screenplay for Brother’s Justice is almost nonexistent, but that doesn't matter. It shows off some brilliant improv. One of the funniest scenes is when Shepard trains with a martial arts expert, and his lack of physicality and conditioning becomes apparent.

Nearly 80 percent of the film became improvisation, although it had a 40-page script that sketched the ideas of scenes.

“Quite often the thing we intended to happen did not happen. And many times, the thing that happened was far funnier that what we had intended,” Shepard says.

Brother’s Justice also has appearances by actors Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) and David Koechner (Anchorman).

“Our relationships just happen,” Arnold says of the scenes involving Cooper and Koechner. “There is an argument, there is a disagreement. And this was kept in the movie.”

Shepard notes that realism within the movie is obvious from start to finish.

“The whole crew consisted of the co-director David [Palmer] operating the camera and us wearing the wireless mics,” he says. “To me, it felt a lot more realistic than [when] you normally are in a movie.”

The film also deals with Shepard’s idea to break the barrier for comedies to do well overseas.

“In order to have a big blockbuster overseas, you need to have an action movie,” he states. “But what if I was so arrogant that I decided to go into action just to have international acclaim?”

Yes, that was the initial concept, but it progressed as the film was being made. It really portrays the importance of the relationships involved. For example, Arnold’s caring ways in helping Shepard initiate, create and continue the making of Brother’s Justice. Their shared quest to get the passion project made becomes the film’s focus and ultimately sheds light on filmmaking as a whole.

“The decision to do the film in that style was easy. It allowed us to shoot an entire movie with one location rental,” Shepard says about the decision to make a Hollywood satire. “It meant that we didn’t have to prep or schedule sets, wardrobe or permits.”

By the end of the movie, it seems as if Shepard finally gets a chance to produce his concept. Relationships have been somewhat shattered, but they are eventually restored en route to seeing the project come to fruition, or does it really?

Shepard, who is a graduate of UCLA, believes that this particular film could be well accepted within the collegiate ranks across the nation.

“I really believe that and feel strong about that,” Shepard says in response to the notion of students loving the “mockbuster.” “There are a couple of elements, but one is that my whole career has been aimed at young people to deliver what they think is funny. You have to be committed to that as a comedian.”