Sep 5, 2010

The True Blue "Machete" Movie Review

At this point, Danny Trejo has become the Troy McClure of bad-asses, having starred in a ridiculous amount of work that range from embarrassing to downright amazing. His ability to intimidate like a real life Mexican Hulk has aided him in the many decades since he hit the scene. However, it wasn't until the Grindhouse trailer for b-movie Machete that there were even prospects that maybe that guy that could beat up anyone had a chance in a starring lead.


Of course, what started as a joke eventually lead to many prospects that this side man would finally take lead and show the world why he should have been doing lead roles for 10 years now. And Trejo doesn't disappoint.
Under the eye of director Robert Rodriguez, this movie manages to feature enough exhilarating action sequences and character development to make this not only a really well made Mexploitation movie (however, feels more homage than parody), but the birth of perhaps one of the most iconic Mexican characters in modern cinema. He may be tough and get the ladies, but the story's ability to also be socially conscious and make Machete a hero, gives the movie a bizarre level of depth and hope for anyone who ever felt oppressed.
The story follows Machete, an ex-Federale day laborer, as he is assigned by a congressman (Jeff Fahey) to assassinate a politician (Robert De Niro). After things go awry and a border patrol woman (Jessica Alba) gets involved, things get all sorts of crazy. How crazy? Just imagine the most ridiculous decapitations and improper use of body organs to be featured in a mainstream (mainstream? That's actually hilarious) movie in awhile. Then, imagine Danny Trejo doing it and you got the most inventive gore and violence since Kill Bill vol. 2.
However, none of this would've been possible without Rodriguez's authentic skills. Over his career, he has made movies that have glorified the Mexican culture while wielding in elements of b-movies, ridiculous action sequences, and authentic music made by Rodriguez himself. While many times they come across as hit and miss, he has managed to be one of the more entertaining and original directors as of late.
In Machete, he perfects the b-movie formula (minus the scratches and missing reels) by restoring clips from the Grindhouse trailer with crisp, clear picture, better than George Lucas on the fifth rendition of Indiana Jones. He also shows his pride for Mexico by giving probably the most entertaining look at illegal immigration in awhile. While he uses excessive amounts of stereotypes, none of them feel crass and instead respectful, even if only for a laugh. His twist on the culture inspired many key pieces that just play out like some fantastic dream. Add an amazing soundtrack, and it's hard times to find a more entertaining movie.

Not to say this movie doesn't have flaws. It does. However, they are forgivable because Rodriguez has managed to make a great piece that works as social commentary and create an iconic character simultaneously. In a way, this feels like the gem that Rodriguez and Trejo have both been working towards since their first collaboration.
And boy, do they make it work. It's questionable if we'll ever see this character again (though there is a good chance), but he's going to remain in our lexicon of great bad-ass heroes alongside Travis Bickle, Tony Montana, and even John Rambo.
While it's questionable how long this b-movie fad can last (I am personally waiting for Edgar Wright's Don't over prospects of Ant Man or Them) with Rodriguez, he sure has perfected the style and I'll be welcoming of more similar work in the future.

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