Director/Stars: Danny Trejo (Actor), Robert DeNiro, Jessica Alba, etc. Robert Rodriguez (Director)
Genre: Exploitationist Action
Watched: February 27, 2011
Summary: Pure action and camp fun.
Derived from a fake preview in Rodriguez and Tarantino’s Grindhouse double feature, this film is just rollicking camp fun. The premise: that ex-federale Danny Trejo (the ugliest guy to grace the silver screen since The Elephant Man) is lured into a crazy scheme by various right wing racist nut-jobs and has to kick (and get some) ass in various escapes, revenge, etc.
One of the best things is the roster of amusing casting. These aren’t just cameos either: Robert DeNiro, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Steven Seagal, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, Linsay Lohan and more.
The plot, as such, is thin, and gratuitously cheesy. The characters however, live large, and the action is fun and inventive and sometimes delightfully nasty.
Before the opening credits, Trejo manages to use his trademark weapon to amputate at least a dozen limbs, leading him to rescue a stark naked girl whose cel phone and weapons are stored where the sun don’t shine. Before this scene ends a fat-ass Steven Seagal uses a katana to behead Trejos wife (standard revenge setup). This pretty much sets the tone for the entire film. My favorite gross-out bit is a bad guy whose intestines (still connected) are used by Machete as a rope to swing out the window and onto the floor below.
Nothing about the movie is realistic. The villains are deliciously over the top, and their crazy scheme to raise drug prices by building an electrified fence between Mexico and Texas purely amusing. People get shot in the head and live. Everything resolves in one of those typical Rodriguez giant shootouts.
What makes the film so fun — besides the crazy action — is the unadulterated camp factor of each of the characters. From Cheech’s merlot-drinking shotgun wielding priest to Robert DeNiro’s evil racist state senator (there are a few of those in real life too!).
Rodriguez just should have gone as over the top with his nudity as with his violence. Too much cutting for a work this gratuitous!