If you are a regular visitor here at the ol’ Litterbox, then you know by now my obsession with absolutely trashy cinema, and so what could be a better fit for a review than a look at the latest film from Robert Rodriguez, the over-the-top “mexploitation” actioner, “Machete”? Seems a perfect fit to me, Hehehehe!!
Our synopsis goes like this: “Three years ago in Mexico, the legendary hard-ass Federale nicknamed Machete is betrayed by his crooked superior officer during a drug raid that results in the brutal murder of his beloved wife and child by drug lord crime-boss Torrez. Stabbed, beaten, and left for dead in the flaming ruin of the gang’s lair he somehow survives his almost certain death. Now all these years later, making a living as an illegal day laborer hiding in Texas, Machete resurfaces when he is hired to assassinate Senatorial candidate McLaughlin, a bigoted extremist advocate against illegal immigration. Set up as a fall guy by his employers, he goes on the run seeking revenge against those men only to discover them to be in collaboration with his old enemy Torrez. Now, nothing can stop this one man wrecking crew as takes up his brutal blade again to hack his way along the Bloody Road of Vengeance once more!!”
I know it’s not out on DVD just yet…. but yes, once in a while your Favorite Catgirl does make a evening out a “Movie Nite” as well. (Carolyn even lets me pick the movie once in a while…. despite knowing full well what that usually means…) Labor day seemed the perfect excuse for a little violent cinema goodness…. so it was off to the theatre for the two of us!!
So… wanna know if you ought to catch this one as well? Or should you wait for the DVD? Only one certain way to know…. and that’s for you to “Read On” and see what Neko thought of this one….
In true Exploitation film fashion, “Machete” wastes no time at getting right down to business. And that business is all about kicking butt…. Machete (played with excellent over the top gusto by long time film villain Danny Trejo) and his partner are all set to raid the compound of evil drug lord Torrez (played by Steven Seagal) but naturally his superior officer is hesitant about letting our one man army go all crazy without waiting for back-up to arrive. Will our hero wait? Naaaahhh!! Not gonna be that kind of action movie hero…. So without further foolin’ around, our hero smashes his police car into the heavily defended lair getting his poor partner snuffed in the process. Once inside, Machete is all about the hacking and slashing. Not really hard to figure out just how he got his nickname…. Nope, not at all. There are plenty of bad guys to kill in all sorts of bloody ways, and even… it seems… a hot, naked Latina babe (played by Mayra Leal) in terrible need of a rough tough action hero to rescue her. Taking a cue from “Shaft”, our hero soon has her dangling over one shoulder while he kills even a few more nasty guys. This sets the tone for the film… and it doesn’t stray far from this exploitation theme as our story unfolds.
There’s the inevitable tragic double-cross, the death of his loyal compadré and partner, the grisly murder of his beloved wife and daughter, and, of course, the near fatal “left for dead” scene all these sorts of movies need to provide motivation for our hero….. and all before the opening credits roll. Does any of this promise that “Machete” will set new standards for Oscar worthy films this year? Nope…. not a chance. Does it promise “Machete” should entertain the living heck outta fans of crazy, over-the-top gratuitous violence and Revenge Melodrama? Oh, yes… yes, indeed it will.
Even at this early point, my sweetie Carolyn was starting to fidget in her seat…. only momentarily distracted by the loud raucous exclamations of the theater crowd. “I knew “Machete” wasn’t going to be her cup of tea at all, but I also knew it was certainly going to be mine. (Sigh…. As well she knows, within my tiny lil’ frame beats the heart of a true “Exploitation Movie Junkie”…. Guess I’ll have to sit through “Letters to Juliet” some time soon just to make it up to her, Hehehehe!!)
The next hour and a half didn’t fail to live up to that initial impression. Working hard to stay true to the sparse information we saw in the original “Grindhouse” trailer, it adds a bit of a subtext to make it sync with the current national debate over illegal immigration. This comes across as being a bit preachy at times, but certainly fits the tone of the story overall. I guess from a marketing standpoint, that was a big plus… and, hey… isn’t that exactly what true “exploitation” film-making is all about?
Robert Rodriguez fills “Machete” with buckets of action, plenty of bloody carnage, and never lets the plot get in the way of the story. Having plenty of name stars on board doesn’t hurt either…. although this is definitely Danny Trejo’s film from start to finish. Neko has seen him in plenty of other roles over the years, and it’s nice to see him get the chance to step up and be the hero for a change after years of usually being cast as the ominous villain. He’s up to the challenge too… giving this one his all and making Machete both menacing as well as someone you can respect as a character with a sense of justice and honor. He’s a bit “cardboard” at times, but here that is exactly what you want…. the hero reduced to a simple and understandable figure with no ambiguity as to what he stands for. Physically, this was the role he was born for, his rugged tattooed and scared frame every bit what the audience expects. He looks like he can kick ass…… No if’s, and’s, or buts….
If I have any quibbles at all with this one, I can say they are minor ones…. At times the re-use of the old “Grindhouse” trailer footage fails to match up with the newer stuff filmed, but even that still gives the film that weirdly edited look of vintage 70’s exploitation. All in all, if an evening’s entertainment is what you want…. and you’d just like to put the rational part of your brain on hold… you could do far worse than “Machete”. With luck, we’ll get a sequel and Danny Trejo can unleash his big ol’ can of spicy whup-ass on… say… all those evil Mexican Drug Cartels we hearing about in the news these days…. That could be loads of bloody fun. Hehehehe….
So… Your Favorite Catgirl can definitely say she liked this one overall (even if it left my sweet Carolyn wishin’ yet again that her girlfriend had better tastes in film….). It gets a solid 4 “Meows” out of 5 with a special purr of enjoyment for star Danny Trejo. Here’s to hoping Machete lives up to his promise and returns again for another installment. If you haven’t caught this one yet…. and you like the sort of trashy films I do…. than by all means make this one a “Movie Nite” choice soon…. you’ll be glad you did.
By now you’ve all seen the “Grindhouse” Trailer…. but here’s the “reboot” for the feature film, with a wee bit of not so gentle nudging about our recent lil’ immigration reform effort here in the US….