A Dangerous Life, a lumbering docudrama about the chaos in the Philippines between the 1983 assassination of dissident politician Benigno Aquino and the 1986 coup that elevated his widow, Corazon, to the country’s presidency, manages to be fairly exhaustive with the facts — and fairly exhausting on the senses.
The made-for-cable movie does give a more or less coherent shape and textuue to the frequently bewildering and often overwhelming events surrounding the fall of the Marcos regime, and you do feel much of the tension and electricity of those scary days. But in their zeal for detail, both director Robert Markowitz (The Deadliest Season) and writer David Williamson (The Year of Living Dangerously) have given the march of history a painfully heavy tread. Worse, they’ve mixed these events up with a love story involving a married television newsman and a left-wing Filipino revolutionary. As the newsman, Gary Busey brings a surprising sense of mildly tarnished heroic gravity to the proceedings. And actress Tessie Tomas manages to steal the show as the tacky, imperious Imelda Marcos without giving in to the temptation to camp it up.
When A Dangerous Life aired originally, it was in two nights, and you didn’t mind this sprawl. But it’s hard to take in one sitting. By the end, you almost feel a surge of relief over Cory’s triumph. Then you remember: She’s got problems of her own now.