For a lot of people, the highlight of Tarantino and Rodriguez's unfortunate box office failure Grindhouse was the tongue in cheek trailers set in between the two films. We were given Don't by Shaun of the Dead's Edgar Wright, Thanksgiving by Eli Roth, Werewolf Women of the SS by Rob Zombie and of course, the indomitable Machete by Rodriguez himself. Machete looked as though it was made to become an actual film one day as it didn't seem to be a genre parody like the others, but what it did look like was a bunch of cool scenes that didn't necessarily have a whole cohesive storyline. Rodriguez says the idea of a Machete script had been with him for years and the trailer featured scenes from that script, and three years after the release of Grindhouse the trailer grew into a film. Working with co-director Ethan Maniquis and co-writer Alvaro Rodriguez, they have managed to pull together a story that reeks of generic action movie trappings, but is as fun as a busload of clowns armed with uzis.
|Director: Robert Rodriguez
Stars: Danny Trejo, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Lindsay Lohan, Don Johnson, Jessica Alba, Robert De Niro
Writers: Robert Rodriguez
Machete tells of an ex Mexican law enforcement officer, Machete (Danny Trejo), whose wife is killed by drug dealer Torrez (Steven Seagal). With no ties, and presumed dead by most, Machete crosses the border illegally to Texas to work. He is eventually hired by Michael Booth (Jeff Fahey) to assassinate his employer, racist Senator John McLaughlin (Robert DeNiro) but discovers it is a ruse, and ends up on the run. He manages to get some assistance from a Taco truck proprietor, Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), who is more than she appears to be, and federal immigration officer Sartana (Jessica Alba), but it would appear that the entire subterfuge is a lot deeper than first thought, and there may be a much greater conspiracy at hand. Doesn't sound "Grindhousy" enough for you? How about throwing in Cheech Marin as a gun toting Priest, Don Johnson as a redneck police office, Tom Savini as an assassin, and an almost perpetually naked Linsey Lohan. Now if that still doesn't sound like your cup of tea then you may as well move along.
Machete is is typical Rodriguez fare: there is an all pervading feeling of heat that makes it almost stifling to watch. It is an amazing feat to get this impression across in a film, but he does it with a skill that is clearly influenced by Sergio Leone. His visual style is as impressive as ever, and visual effect tricks he learned in Grindhouse make appearances here to enhance the appearance of the film.
His collection of actors fit in well with the Grindhouse look of the film, except for the exceptionally white bread Lohan who stands out as an unusual choice in the usual Rodriguez menagerie. I will admit that he doesn't necessarily get the greatest performances from the cast, all of whom have put in better performances in more mainstream films, but who cares? In the greater scheme of things RR isn't looking for Academy Award worthy acting: it's all about mucho actione!
As with a lot of RR's films, I have to compliment him on his choice of female cast members: I don't know what the Spanish word for sexy is, but Aye Curumba, he has filled this film with hotties of the highest order, and there is something to appeal to most tastes! From the aforementioned Lohan, to the hard assed Michelle Rodriguez to the softer (but still a butt kicker) Jessica Alba, this film is filled with some amazing women. A special mention must go to the gorgeous Mayra Leal, an Eva Mendez lookalike who spends her entire time absolutely starkers, but still has a spot to hide a mobile phone.
The violence and gore are completely over-the-top, and even though most it is of a deliberately exploitative nature, it sits perfectly in the film, and is even occasionally hilarious. Being a lover of old school filmic technology, RR's effects are mostly CG, but they still remain quite convincing.
I have two problems with this film. The first is, it is far too long; RR has squeezed as much as he possibly could in it, and the film certainly suffers as a result. The other problem issomething we see in a lot of comic based films: Too Many Bad Guys Syndrome. The story could have easily dumped a major bad guy or two (seeing as how, without counting henchmen, there are four major baddies). With Machete being such a cartoony caricature, maybe this was deliberate, but I imagine it is more because Rodriguez put so many cool actors in his film and he had to give them all something to do. Trejo plays the Bronson-like hero perfectly, the villains are villainous enough, the girls are sexy enough but length is a problem. Over and above that quibble, it's a pretty cool, gore filled, violence packed, sexy-as-fuck film that just misses the mark set by other stuff that Rodriguez has done like Sin City or Once Upon a Time In Mexico. Having said that however, there is no doubt I will watch this film over and over again.
|The film is presented in widescreen 1.85:1 and is a really clear picture, though Rodriguez has 'grindhoused' the film using some of the effects he used in Planet Terror, so there is deliberate film damage and the occasional jump, usually used to accentuate the impact of a machete strike. The audio is presented in a clear DTS-HD 5.1, which is nothing short of perfect.
There are a bunch of unrelated trailers here: The Green Hornet, Faster, Priest, El Mariachi, Once Upon a Time In Mexico and a generic 'Bluray is fucking awesome' bit.
Also on offer are ten deleted scenes, some of which are pretty cool, but not essential to the core of the story, so they won't be missed. I must say I am glad for the total removal of the idea that Alba's character has a cough syrup addicted twin sister!
There is also an audience track added to the film, so you can watch the film with the reactions of the crowd. The side effect to this is once the film is over and you go to smile at the people who enjoyed the film with you, you'll realise you are still alone, and perhaps a little pathetic. The disc also features some BD Live and movieIQ stuff, but I don't hook my player up to the internet so these will forever remain unreviewed.
I must admit to being entirely pissed off with the extras in this package as I am accustomed to Rodriguez giving us a whole pile of extras, including his 10 Minute Flick School (which I find informative and inspirational) and the 10 Minute Cooking School (seriously, the Porco Pibil from Once Upon A Time In Mexico is delicious!).