“He knows the score. He gets the women. And he kills the bad guys.” Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse experiment may have ended in box office failure, but it did have one hugely successful element – the fake trailer for Machete that played between the two films.
Amazingly, Rodriguez has actually managed to turn what was essentially a short spoof of low-budget exploitation into a full-length film that sits happily within the genre.
It shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, given that his half of the Grindhouse project – zombie schlocker Planet Terror – showed a deeper understanding of the subject matter than Tarantino’s chatty Vanishing Point rip-off.
Machete even works despite the fact that it stays completely faithful to that first trailer (the only bigger cheers on the audience reaction track than for carnage or nudity are when the fans recognise a moment from the original trailer).
The plot is as lightweight as you might expect, because no amount of complicated twists should get in the way of seeing Danny Trejo walk from room to room, cutting off bits from bad guys.
Machete is a Mexican Federale, until his family is killed by drug dealer Torrez (Steven Seagal, in a film where his unique ‘acting’ talents are used to the full) and he hops the border to America. There he’s framed for the attempted murder of a senator (Bobby De Niro, hamming it up beautifully), before taking revenge on those who set him up.
The strong supporting cast are also clearly having fun in some very sleazy, amusing roles. Don Johnson’s vigilante revels in his cruelty, while even Lindsay Lohan shines as a druggy, slutty daughter.
And if the film’s a little slow in parts when the drama does get in the way, at least the audience is never far from a cheesy line or superior ass-kicking. As the character himself says, “machete improvises” – moving from his signature weapon to anything from surgical knives on a rope to a weed whacker.
Unusually, the bonus features disappoint – an area Rodriguez usually nails. None of the deleted scenes are particularly necessary, although rose McGowan’s appearance as a hit-woman is saved from the cutting room floor.
The whooping of the audience reaction track also can’t make up for the lack of Rodriguez’s banter, while a MovieIQ track contains some truly unnecessary Wikipedia-style text information. As the man himself says, machete don’t text...
Never has the phrase ‘bloody good fun’ been so appropriate. This is inventive, trashy entertainment at its best.