Burn! stars Marlon Brando as a British warmonger named William Walker, who’s a master manipulator and politician, as well as an excellent military strategist. While not one of the master’s best films, his presence really elevates the material and carries the other performers. Funny thing about Brando… he could play a Brit, an Irishman, and a mafia godfather and make you believe he was the nationality he was portraying.
Through the controversies of Brando’s later career (in which he also made …imself scarce in the eyes of the public), it might be easy to forget about him, but all you need to do is revisit a fine performance such as the one in this film, and you’ll quickly remember why he’s one of the greats.
In addition to Brando, Evaristo Marquez turns in an excellent, though understated performance as Jose Delores, a man who rises from abject poverty to rule a people. Of course, his position is helped along greatly — at first — by Brando’s character, who always seems to have an agenda (and rarely a noble one). But as Delores earns the faith of his people, he becomes a pest far greater than the established government or Walker himself could have ever imagined.
Burn! works best when the two stars play off one another. There’s some gratitude on Delores’ end. Some admiration on Walker’s. But ultimately the mistrust both share for one another make them adversaries and lead to a gritty, exciting pursuit across the islands from which one man will learn what it means to be a legend, and one will pay the ultimate price.
As strong as the settings and visuals are, it’s unfortunate to find them presented in this soft, muddy VHS-quality 1.66:1 presentation. And this is a major studio release! Apparently, all parties involved just wanted to get this thing out to market, caring nothing about how it looked. It’s possible the source print was in bad shape, but with the film less than forty years old, it’s hard to imagine more clean-up wasn’t possible.
The Dolby Digital Mono presentation is not as pathetic as the video transfer, but it still leaves much to be desired. Dialogue levels are the only strong feature of the soundtrack. From tribal chanting to the stirring score by Ennio Morricone, everything else is so blasé and muffled, you will honestly wonder why you bothered.
Beyond a few trailers for other films, there are no bonus materials.
There is nothing beyond the film to recommend this disc’s purchase. If you already own it on VHS, you may wish to upgrade simply for the saved space, but if not, stick to a rental. A worthwhile film, but a truly uninspired presentation.
Special Features List