America -- nay, the world -- has sorely been missing something ever since Chuck Norris became a post-ironic punchline. What is that, you ask? Why, a white martial arts superstar/international sensation, of course!
Luckily, one actor has recognized this void and decided to step in to fill it with a not-so-major motion picture. That man's name is Dax Shepard, and his independently financed movie is 'Brother's Justice.'
You may know Shepard (pictured above) as a series regular on NBC's 'Parenthood'; he has also played the third lead in both 'Employee of the Month' (behind Jessica Simpson and Dane Cook) and 'Idiocracy' (as Luke Wilson's dimwitted guide Frito Pendejo). If those quasi-comedic gigs -- or his pie-eyed love for his fiancée, 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' actress Kristen Bell -- haven't convinced you that he's got the chops to pull off a tough guy role, you're not alone.
In fact, Shepard himself is in on the joke; 'Brother's Justice' -- which Shepard wrote and co-directed -- is a mockumentary, and its very premise rests on the idea that no one believes he'll ever be an action star. Take a look at the goofy trailer, in which Shepard pitches his idea to star in an action movie to a few of his more established pals, such as Ashton Kutcher, Jon Favreau, Bradley Cooper and Tom Arnold.
The movie, which debuted last week at the Austin Film Festival (read our review here), includes both 'Punk'd'-style interactions with people who weren't in on the gag and improvisations with friends who knew what was up. Its first shots were laid down in 2006, and Shepard -- who spoke briefly with Moviefone before the premiere -- says the impetus behind filming was based on discovering where he placed within the grand scheme of the movie industry.
"As your comedies come out, you quickly learn that no one sees them overseas," says Shepard, 35. "I don't care about that, but when I became aware of it, this idea arose."
Of course, a mockumentary about a comic actor attempting to secure financing for a low-budget action film is unlikely to result in boffo foreign box-office business. But fans of light comedy will enjoy the way he insists with faux-seriousness throughout the movie and during our interview that he actually has the potential to become the next Chuck Norris.
"I'm not big enough, like the Rock or someone like that is, to just lay people out," Shepard tells us. "So I'd have to have some kind of finesse skills, like a martial art."
One of the more outlandish bits in 'Brother's Justice' concerns a trailer for a (fake) aborted Shepard project called '24 Hours To Live'; the clip is made up almost entirely of a series of crotch shots that are intended to be a tribute to Burt Reynolds', um, junk in 'Smokey and the Bandit'.
"['Smokey' features] the most gratuitous shot of his balls, with Sally Field laying on his leg, and they're almost pushing in on it [with the camera]," says Shepard of the ridiculous sequence. "It's overwhelming. So that shot was an homage to Burt Reynolds' balls."
The rest of 'Brother's Justice' is marginally more refined, and even trades on the idea of reinventing oneself in an improbable way, a la Joaquin Phoenix's foray into rap in 'I'm Still Here.' While Shepard stops short of comparing 'Brother's Justice' to that much-discussed recent semi-hoax picture, the Detroit-born actor does boast that he could totally take Phoenix in a fight.
"He grew up in a commune; I'm from the Motor City," says Shepard. "The auto industry versus a hippie commune? He's going to have his hands full."