Directors: Robert Rodriguez & Ethan Maniquis
Cast: Danny Trejo, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Robert De Niro
Review by Brian M. Sammons
This is the gory, goofy, modern day grindhouse flick that was first glimpsed as a “fake” trailer in 2007s sadly underperforming Grindhouse double feature. Well defying all expectations and logic, the fake movie about a Mexican ex-Federale set up to take the fall for shooting a senator and out for revenge has now become reality, but is it any good?
Hell yeah it is and not only that, it was one of my favorite films of 2010. Sure it’s not a horror flick, but it does have more decapitations, not to mention a killer disembowelment, than a whole slew of slasher movies. That alone should get the gorehounds excited, but beyond the groovy gore this movie has loads of inappropriate laughs, one of the biggest being a naked woman retrieving a cellphone from a very unusual place, lots of action in both gun and sword fight form, several gorgeous ladies for the guys to ogle, and Cheech Marin as a shotgun packing priest! What’s not to love?
The star of the show is perennial character actor Danny Trejo who does an admiral job in his first lead role as the titular man named Machete. He also gets a lot of high caliber co-stars to help him shoulder his burden. Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Jeff Fahey, and the aforementioned Cheech Marin are just some of the familiar faces you’ll find here. But there are also some notable stand outs in the mix too. First and foremost is Robert De Niro who looks to be having a ball hamming it up. But it was also nice to see that Don Johnson was still alive and well. I can’t recall the last time I saw him in anything. However for me the real treat was Steven Seagal, who not only played a bad guy but was actually in a movie to hit the theaters and not just the DVD bargain bins. Imagine that! Oh, and one more thing for the gorehounds: the wizard of gore, Tom Savini has a small but memorable roll as a gun for hire.
In addition to the blood, action, naked ladies and star power, this movie was just made for us. There’s a scene straight out of Escape From New York, Machete swinging through the air with the aid of some poor slob’s lower intestine, Michelle Rodriguez totally rocking an eye patch, a hit man in a Lucha Libre mask, three beheadings with a single machete swipe, a convoy of low-riders going off to war and much more weirdness. Even with all that, Machete still has more to offer, like a very personal message on the hot button topic of immigration and border control. Thankfully, Rodriguez wisely chose to use comedy and splatter to hide the social commentary so it doesn’t keep hitting you upside the head. There’s nothing worse than going to see an action flick and getting preached at for ninety minutes.
The bad news is that as cool as the film is, the Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox is a bit of a letdown. There are no documentaries, interviews or featurettes and not a single commentary track to be seen. Come on, it’s now 2011 and that’s just sad no matter how you cut it. The one saving grace to these not-so-special features is the collection of ten deleted scenes that are actually worth watching. Not only do they show a dropped subplot where Jessica Alba had a drunk, slutty twin sister, but a completely removed charter, Rose McGowan as a sex lady assassin who must have played one too many games of POSTAL and uses a cat as a silencer. I can only assume Rose’s part was cut out do to her on again, off again (is it back on again?) relationship with director Robert Rodriguez. Whatever the case, it sucks she was cut, but at least you can see some of her efforts here.
Disappointing extras aside, Machete is a great little flick that does fun like few movies do today. I watched it from start to finish with a smile on my face and I can easily recommend it for fans of off-the-wall films.