Oct 11, 2010

[Movies] Machete (2010)

Machete (2010)The B-Movie genre is best known for being so bad that it somehow becomes good - in a cheesy, campy kind of way. And you know me, I'm a sucker for campy movies generally speaking given how it takes a certain kind of mind to come up with them along with those that end up enjoying them. Such movies are drive by bad dialog, ridiculous plots, and special effects that are laughable and yet so distinct.

When Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez first came out with their Grindhouse double feature in 2007, it was a quirky celebration of the exploitation movie genre in all its gory glory. The double feature of Planet Terror and Death Proof did well in capturing the look and feel of those older horror movies while at the same time updating it to somehow fit modern times. The movie also came with the bonus of trailers for fake movies done in the same style, and I doubt anyone thought that those trailers would ever result in anything in the future.

But in this case it did and the end result was perhaps even crazier than the original Grindhouse films. Sure, they were really more horror films in nature and they embraced that paradigm quite well. However this film was somehow trying to be socially relevant while at the same time still crazy and over-the-top in the gore department.

Machete is the Robert Rodriguez film inspired by what was originally a fake trailer inserted into the Grindhouse sceening.

The intentionally "aged" look of the...Image via WikipediaMachete (Danny Trejo) is a former Mexican Federales who is now an illegal immigrant in the US determined to get revenge. He lost his wife before his eyes to the cruel katana ministrations of Mexican a drug lord (Steven Segal). Now in Texas, he receives an unusual job offer from Michael Booth (Jeff Fahey) who wants him to assassinate Senator McLaughlin (Robert de Niro), a conservative politician who is up for re-election on an anti-immigration platform. While uncomfortable with the job initially, it was hard to turn down the $150,000 contract and so he agrees.

However on the day of the assassination, he discovers a second shooter and realizes it's a double cross. The second shooter fails to kill him, but is able to shoot the Senator in the leg. Injured, Machete narrowly escapes with his life and eventually finds help from the weird mix of his brother Padre (Cheech Marin), the leader of The Network and sometime taco stand vendor Shé (Michelle Rodriguez) and obsessive immigration agent Sartana Rivera (Jessica Alba).

The movie is, well, ridiculous - and I mean that in a good way. But let's face it, it seems like everyone who dies was rigged to have blood and guts exploding everywhere regardless if they're killed by gun shot or machete. Then you have the need to have women naked at random intervals. And of course there are the even more ridiculous scenes like having Machete grab a man's intestines, jump out a window and use it like rope to swing into the window in the floor below. Ah yes, that's the good stuff indeed, at least as far as exploitation movies go.

The movie's release was unintentionally timely given the on-going immigration debates in the US. It was probably compounded still by the harsh anti-immigration law passed in the state of Arizona. So as you go through the dialog of the various characters, you can't help but laugh at the different views on the rights of illegal immigrants or the need to protect the sanctity of the US government or something. Movies like these tend to exist in a caricature of the real world - so there's still some truth hidden between the crazy lines and exploding corpses.

Danny Trejo is pretty awesome at being, well, himself. That means being totally kick ass or bad ass (depending on your preferences). Plus he had some excellent writing including a lot of zingers and one liners that you won't find anywhere else. One of my personal favorites includes "Machete don't text" - it's a lot funnier when you hear it as opposed to just reading it on a page, believe me.

Is this the greatest movie of the year? Of course not. Is it the greatest B-movie ever created? No, not that either. But it is an entertaining ride riddled with celebrity cameos and all that good stuff. So leave your brain at the door, find a comfy place to watch the movie and let the fireworks go wild.

Machete is one of the strangest commentaries on immigration law, but probably one of the most entertaining. It gets 3.5 naked women with very flexible, um, private parts out of a possible 5.

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