It was way back in 2007 when Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez went full grindhouse on the planet and released the double feature throwback known as…well, Grindhouse. The styles of both directors have been blatantly influenced by the exploitation genre that filled the eponymously named theatres back in the day. But even more interesting than the two films that made up Grindhouse were the fake trailers produced to accompany them.
Though Rodriguez had been dreaming of making this movie since being on the Desperado set with Danny Trejo in 1995, Machete appeared on screens for the first time as one of those fake trailers in Grindhouse.
Cut to 2010 and Machete is a feature length film in theatres starring Danny Trejo. The premise is that Trejo, a former Mexican Federale named Machete Cortez who uses machetes, is on a mission to take down the drug lord played by Steven Seagal and anyone who gets in his way. Immigration and related issues in the US also play a huge role in this film, acting as the backdrop for the revenge plot.
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In addition to Trejo and Seagal, Machete features the acting talents of Robert de Niro, Don Johnson, Lindsay Lohan, Michele Rodriguez, Jessica Alba and, inevitably in a Robert Rodriguez film, Cheech Marin. This is a group of actors, and in some cases “actors”, that only the likes of Rodriguez or Tarantino can pull together successfully on the big screen.
If you’re looking for a brilliant take on immigration in the US as it pertains to Mexican/American border issues, you are very much in the wrong place.
If you’re looking for an over-the-top, extra-violent, borderline insane film that is on the precipice of being frenetic disaster but holds it together somehow, welcome home.
Machete is the customary pairing of Trejo and Rodriguez firing on all creative cylinders. It takes many of the tropes associated with grindhouse/exploitation movies, particularly the kung fu variety, and moulds them into one war zone of a film that should not work but does. Like the best of the genre it emulates, Machete requires that you sit down, turn your brain off and just enjoy what’s on the screen. Do Danny Trejo and Steven Seagal have a machete fight in the film’s final fight scene? You had better believe they do. If you try to invest mentally in what you’re watching more than that, you’re just going to blow a blood vessel in your brain trying to ascribe any logic to it.
At this point, two more Machete films are on the way, something that should be welcome news to any Danny Trejo fan. Trejo is a true inspirational story, overcoming drug addiction after being released from prison and building a very successful film career. He has appeared in more than 24o films, TV shows and video games since he first appeared on the screen in 1983.
This film is a strange piece of gold to find at the bottom of a river and will really appeal to a very specific group of film fans. If you enjoyed Desperado or From Dusk till Dawn, Machete is right up your alley.
Ian Goodwillie is a columnist for the Spectator Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at@ThePrairieGeek and on Tumblr at iangoodwillie.tumblr.com.
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