Rodriguez’s ultra-violence style walks a fine line for me. In “Planet Terror” there was so much blood and gore spurting out of every possible human orifice that it eventually became boring to watch and I couldn’t wait for Tarantino’s “Death Proof” segment.
I get that exploitative films are exactly that- the more guts ripped out and thrown on the screen, the better. But I also need something more imaginative than an hour and a half of zombies getting their limbs cut off.
That being said, the trailers interspersed throughout “Grindhouse” made me laugh, in particular “Machete.”
The shot of Danny Trejo leaping through the air in a cloud of fire on his big black motorcycle raining a barrage of bullets from his machine gun was just, perfect. And then to actually make a movie based on a fake trailer- there are no words to describe. I’ve been dying to see “Machete” for three years but was worried that Rodriguez would disrupt the scales and the movie would be tossed to the hate list.
“Machete,” directed by Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis, is about a Mexican cop (Danny Trejo), or federale, who refuses to go crooked. His arch nemesis, Torrez (Steven Seagal), makes him pay for his straight ways and Machete is forced to cross the border and become a migrant worker in the U.S. where he encounters just as much, if not more, corruption than he did in Mexico.
He makes some friends along the way, notably Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez and Lindsay Lohan. Lohan has a drug problem, is naked for most of the movie, then dons a nun outfit at the very end and shoots many bullets randomly into nothing.
Robert De Niro is awesome (as always) and plays a raging senator who would like nothing more than to kill all the Mexicans in Texas. Machete is supposed to assassinate the senator, but things get in the way.
Rodriguez called “Machete” a “Mexploitation film,” and it’s all that and more. It has a cohesive story, it’s hilarious in every scene and Trejo is finally a hero instead of a villain; being portrayed as one in most of his nearly 200 films.
As for the appearances of Seagal and De Niro, Rodriguez said, “Seagal killed him twice in other movies. De Niro put a bullet in his head in ‘Heat.’ Figured they'd return the favor. They really genuinely enjoyed seeing Danny in his own movie and wanted to support him."
What’s also excellent about the movie is oddly, what I had gripes with in Rodriguez’s other movies; the violence. To be honest, it’s not the violence that bothers me, but it’s the repetitive way in which the violence is executed. This time people are killed in a multitude of ways; with a meat thermometer, a wine opener, a skin grafter, a bone cutter, even with someone’s own intestines.
It sounds really gross for sure, but the tone in which Rodriguez directs never makes you take it seriously at all. The whole movie is just plain fun, and well worth the three-year wait.
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