Film Reviews,

The Establishing Shot: MACHETE Review

Friday, November 26, 2010 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

MacheteThe only way to hear Machete in your inner voice when reading the word is in a loud booming Grindhouse accent like this: MACHETE !!!!!!

By now you no doubt seen the trailer for MACHETE !!!!!! or at least heard of it. MACHETE !!!!!! is a Robert Rodriguez film that started out as one of the fake trailers inserted into the Grindhouse double bill of Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino) and Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror. As you know the double bill was a homage to the Grindhouse cinema of the 70s & early 80s.

As a side note my small home town Cape Town had an authentic Grindhouse cinema - the one and only The Roxy. It’s long gone these days but way back then I would occasionally sneak off for a Saturday matinee double bill at The Roxy. I say sneak off because The Roxy was strictly out of bounds. But for the same fee as the regular Saturday kiddy club I could see two films (three if I got there early enough), load up on refreshments and still have enough pocket money left over for a couple of comics. Sure the films showing were fairly old and in bad condition but I loved it.

So I can totally understand the desire to recapture that edgy nostalgia. Pretty much the whole Tarantino/Rodriguez double bill experience and visuals could have been lifted from the projection room of The Roxy.

In all honesty I wasn’t really swept away by Grindhouse Double bill - Don’t get me wrong there were moments of pure fun and maybe it was the heightened promise of delivery from the two or maybe it was because I saw films on small screens but I thought Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror only sucked slightly less than Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof. I just couldn’t help but think that budget and talent have been used to float better films. Having said that - both films are on my playlist for a re-evaluation.

Apart from MACHETE !!!!!! the other fake trailers that were inserted into the Grindhouse double bill included; Hobo with a Shotgun (winner of Robert Rodriguez's South by Southwest Grindhouse trailers competition and currently being made into a feature film starring Rutger Hauer - See the bottom of the page for a Grindhouse poster competition), Eli Roth's Thanksgiving (Roth has said that Thanksgiving may be turned into a feature) Edgar Wright's Don't (not in anyway shape or form confirmed as going to be made into a feature, yet) and Rob Zombie's Werewolf Women of the SS (with Nicholas Cage as one of cinema’s greatest villains Fu Manchu).

The idea of MACHETE !!!!!! came to Rodriguez while he was making Desperado. He got to know Danny Trejo who had a part as a hit-man who specializes in knives. Trejo and Rodriguez are distant relations but didn’t know each other till they met on the set of Desperado. Trejo a genuine bad ass having spent most of his youth in and out of juvie for crime and drug abuse. Eventually ending up in prison. While in prison he kicked his drug habit and become California State Prison Champion in both the light and welterweight divisions. The guy is a bad ass and has a lot of screen presence, too be honest when ever I saw him I thought he’s end up as the Mexican badass/henchman in lots of films. A bit like Al Leong is the Asian bad ass/henchman. You probably don’t recognize his name but when you see his face you’ll know him. Anyway when Rodriguez met Trejo he thought he was the scariest looking guy he had ever met and should be the Mexican “Jean-Claude Van Damme or Charles Bronson”.

Trejo even had a documentary Champion made about him back in 2005.

So Rodriguez decided to build a character around Trejo and thus MACHETE !!!!!! was born. His first incarnation was as Isador MACHETE !!!!!! Cortez in Spy Kids. He’s the brother in-law of Antonio Banderas’s character and reprised the role for all 3 of the Spy kids films.
In 2007 MACHETE !!!!!! was back again in the previously mentioned fake trailer for MACHETE !!!!!! inserted into the Grindhouse double bill feature.

I should mention I was surprised how incredibly close the original 2007 trailer for MACHETE !!!!!! is to the 2010 MACHETE !!!!!! film. Bar a couple of actor changes a lot of the set ups are exactly the same.

MACHETE !!!!!!
MACHETE !!!!!! picks up somewhere in Mexico and we are immediately dropped into the action as MACHETE !!!!!! and his partner are racing their Federale (Mexican bad ass cops “like the FBI, CIA and DEA, all rolled into one mean burrito!”) car to save a kidnapped girl from a vicious gang. But things aren’t that simple as the higher ups have told them not to go in and that they’ll be killed and kicked off the force. MACHETE !!!!!! makes it clear that he’s going in to save the girl, his partner lets him know what ever happens he’s on his side. MACHETE !!!!!! is a maverick badass. Thank god he’s on our side.

They crash threw the wall of the gangs hideout and MACHETE !!!!!! sets about dispensing with the criminals, each being dispatched in an increasingly more violent and ingenious way. Until a twist means that MACHETE !!!!!! has the table turned on him and he is at the mercy of the drug lord, non other than Steven Seagal (Torrez) it’s also revealed that MACHETE !!!!!!'s commanding officer is in on the whole thing and as corrupt as the night is dark. Rather than give MACHETE !!!!!! an honorable death, the gang remove MACHETE !!!!!! ’s wife’s head and Segal makes threatening comments about his daughter.

MACHETE !!!!!! is a broken man. But anyone who has ever seen a film knows this is a big mistake bad asses always come back, so I’m still unsure why Segal didn’t kill MACHETE !!!!!! Fade out.

3 years later we are introduced to Senator John McLaughlin (Robert De Niro) and Von Jackson (Don Johnson) when they are patrolling the US-Mex border with their crew, they are on a sport illegal immigrant hunt and brutally slaughter a group attempting a border crossing. Turns out Von Jackson has his own private army that are contracted to patrol the border and he is backed by the Senator John McLaughlin, who is looking to step up politically as well as increase immigration laws. Fade out.

MacheteMacheteWe then find MACHETE !!!!!! he’s on the US side of the border, without a work permit and trying to scrape a life together as a non descript day labourer. Things aren’t going so well for him. As shown in the trailer Michael Booth (Jeff Fahey) picks him up, presents him with evidence of Senator John McLaughlin’s wrong doings, makes him an offer that involves MACHETE !!!!!! assassinating McLaughlin and ridding the world of a bad man and finally threatens him. Suprisingly rather than kicking the crap out of him MACHETE !!!!!! takes him up on the offer, but surprise, surprise is double crossed framed for shooting McLaughlin and left for dead.

But they just f#cked with the wrong Mexican. What follows is 105 minutes of badassery as MACHETE !!!!!! lays waste to everything and brings the whole corrupt system down. Or as the official synopsis says;” Double crossed and on the run MACHETE !!!!!! braves the odds with the help of Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), a saucy taco slinger, Padre (Cheech Marin) his "holy" brother, and April (Lindsay Lohan) a socialite with a penchant for guns. All while being tracked by Sartana (Jessica Alba), a sexy ICE agent with a special interest in the blade slinger.

MacheteThe Skinny
I have to say that despite the cartoonish violence and ham acting (In some cases unintentional ham acting) MACHETE !!!!!! starts out quite well and well above my expectations. It's not for everyone - even though it draws attention to very relevant social issues particularly with David Cameron’s recent announcement of tightening UK immigration laws. It’s not meant to be taken seriously - it’s a very violent fun cartoon from start to finish. Performances are delivered in the spirit it is meant with tongue firmly in cheek. Around the ¾ mark I did start flagging as I the film was becoming a little repetitive. It’s a fun homage to B-Grade films of the 80s and closer to the mark than The Expendables. In fact I’m nominating Danny Trejo for the lead villain role in the sequel to The Expendables - The Expendables 2: Even more expendable now because Danny Trejo is the villain.

There is a scene set in a hospital where MACHETE !!!!!! has a stand off against a crew, the build up isn’t great and the slo-mo bit lifted from The Terminator 2 but MACHETE !!!!!! has hastily put together a bunch of deadly edged weapons from kit on a surgeons table. He then proceeds to rip the crew apart (literally) removing the intestine from one of them and using it to escape by swinging through the window to the floor below. They don’t teach that shizz in the academy, that’s for sure.

Fear not citizens At the end of MACHETE !!!!!! a message promises that MACHETE !!!!!! will be back in Machete Kills & Machete kills again

The MACHETE !!!!!! are also running a competition on the official UK & Ireland Facebook page for the MACHETE !!!!!! - - ‘Go Grindhouse’ asks fans of the page to create a ‘Grindhouse’ style movie poster for a film of their choice. They can then upload it to the page for a chance to win a Playstation 3.

Friday is MACHETE !!!!!! day

MACHETE !!!!!! is slashing big screens from today Friday 26 November

Director: Ethan Maniquis, Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, Lindsay Lohan

More info:
Over at the MACHETE !!!!!! website.