DVD review: MACHETE
MACHETE (parody - DVD Review)
Cast: Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Steven Seagal, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson and Lindsay Lohan
Directors: Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis
Script: Robert Rodriguez
Time: 105 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: Usually a movie trailer is made after the film is completed - as a way to sell the product. For Machete, however, it was the other way round - Robert Rodriguez created the trailer BEFORE he planned to make the movie. That 'trailer' featuring Danny Trejo (above) in the title role can be found in the 2007 Grindhouse that he co-directed with Quentin Tarantino. We can say it was the fake trailer that gave birth to this movie - and its intended sequels, Machete Kills and Machete Kills Again.
From the sound of these sequels, you should know that we are looking at a 'Mexploitation franchise' - a 'splatter comedy' designed to make you cringe and squirm - and yet ask for more. And if you should ask, an exploitation flick excels in excessive violence, nudity, blood and gore - and utter stupidity of its plot. Rodriguez's Machete delivers all these - including topless scenes of Lindsay Lohan and 'Jessica Alba' - and Avatar's Michele Rodriguez in a sexy black leather outfit.
THE SKINNY: Machete is the code name of a Mexican Federale agent (Trejo) whose wife and daughter are killed by a ruthless drug lord (Steven Seagal). Fast forward to three years later, Machete is in Texas, US, where he works as an odd job guy. Out of the blue, he is hired by a senatorial aide (Jeff Fahey) to assassinate Texas Senator John McLaughlin (Robert De Niro). This is of course a set-up - and a plot setting for Machete to uncover a conspiracy to capitalise on McLaughlin's proposal to build an electric fence along the border, ostensibly to curb illegal immigrants (read 'wet backs').
HITS AND MISSES: The biggest mistake one can make is to look for some meaning, message or logic in an exploitation flick. Everything is made to look over-the-top and ridiculous, like the stark naked woman (at the opening minutes of the show) reaching between her legs and pulling out a cell-phone to call her boss. Why, the immigration issues variously 'debated' in the film remain just issues to provoke debate - that's all. When Jessica Alba's Immigration agent stands up on a car and yells: “we didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us", it is just another of the many silly dialogue. Don't expect director Rodriguez to take sides in the issue - unless it is to start a war between the 'wet backs' and red necks.
The most cringe-worthy scenes for me are not the splatter scenes of heads and limbs being chopped off. They are of luscious Alba (above), Michele Rodriguez and Lohan kissing Trejo. Especially Alba trying to smooch Trejo. Still, it is fun to watch De Niro, Don Johnson and even Seagal playing baddies. Or Cheech Marin spouting some juicy lines as a padre.
THE LOWDOWN: It is so so bad that you wanna rewind and watch the bad parts again.