Machete (2010) | Robert Rodriguez’s star-studded Grindhouse homage is salsa hot – with a side order of cheese


With Machete screening on Film4 today (Easter Monday), I thought I’d share with you my original 2010 review of the film. Hope you enjoy it and the film as much as I did.

A few weeks back [November 2010], I was visiting Oaxaca in Mexico for the country’s annual Day of the Dead celebrations and came across a gang of youths huddled around a tiny TV set in a street market watching what looked like an old 1970s action adventure.

On closer inspection, I recognised some famous faces – including Robert De Niro, Don Johnson and Lindsay Lohan (dressed as a nun). Then, out of a massive fireball, came Danny Trejo riding a customised motorbike, machine gun a-blazing. I thought, ‘this can only be Robert Rodriguez’s Machete’. And it was.

Back in London I caught the preview, and I was just as excited as those lads back in Oaxaca. Machete first appeared in a faux trailer that was released as part of Rodriguez/Tarantino’s homage to the exploitation genre, Grindhouse. Now, it’s been expanded into an explosive actioner – boasting guns, girls and some dynamite tongue-in-cheek humour.

Danny Trejo, who played Machete in the fake trailer, is the Mexican cop who refuses to be corrupted by powerful drug lord, Rogelio Torrez (Steven Seagal, attired in his best 1970s Bond villain safari suit). After a mission goes awry (where would you hide a mobile if you were naked?) and his family is murdered, Machete is left for dead. Three years later, the renegade is looking for work as an illegal immigrant in a Texan border town, but he’s soon a wanted man after being set up (by Lost’s Jeff Fahey, no less) over the attempted assassination of Robert De Niro’s corrupt Mexican-hating senator.

With a beautiful, but persistent, immigration agent (Jessica Alba) hot on his tail, Machete turns to a rebellious taco-truck owner (Michelle Rodriguez, looking hotter than ever) and his man-of-the-cloth brother (Cheech Marin, spliff in one hand, gun in the other) to help clear his name. But Machete soon discovers a bigger conspiracy afoot – DeNiro’s senator and Johnson’s twisted vigilante are in league with Torrez, who wants total control of the US/Mexican border. Cue: Machete’s explosive battle for revenge.

With its high quota of action, crazy editing and choice soundtrack (thanks to Rodriquez’s own band, Chingon), Machete puts the fun back in filmmaking. It may boast blades, bullets and blood, but the violence and gore is kept at a minimum (which actually works, though I’d love to see an extreme version). And while the script maybe a little OTT, the cast don’t over-egg it, which makes it all the more amusing.

Joining DeNiro, Johnson, Lohan (as a drugged up socialite) and co on this joyride is former Spy Kid Daryl Sabara (as cholo gangster Julio), SFX wizard Tom Savini (as the hitman hired to kill Machete) and those Crazy Babysitter Twins from Grindhouse, Electra and Elise Avellan (as gun-totting sexy nurses in high heels).

If you like your action salsa hot with a side order of cheese, then Machete is the perfect winter warmer. Just see it on the big screen – a pirated copy on a tiny telly in a Mexican street market doesn’t do it justice.


About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on April 21, 2014, in Comedy, Grindhouse, Must-See and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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