Machete

2010-10-23 15:02
 
Machete
 

What it's about:

A Mexican lawman (Danny Trejo) is wounded and left for dead after his wife and daughter are killed by a drug lord (Steven Seagal). Some time later, in the US, the ex-lawman is hired by a shady man (Jeff Fahey) to kill an ultra-conservative senatorial candidate (Robert de Niro). But all is not as it seems, and a double-cross ensues, resulting in the lawman going on the run… until he runs into a taco-stall owner (Michelle Rodriguez), who may or may not be part of a pro-Mexican activist group call The Network.   

What we thought:

Evidence suggests that there are two kinds of people: those that love Robert Rodriguez movies, and those who are really puzzled by them. Rodriguez has a rogue element to his filmmaking in so much that he likes to flout Hollywood conventions – actually trash them completely, come to think of it.

In fact, he’s gotten away with a lot of crazy stuff, like the Spy Kids franchise, which by all accounts shouldn’t work on screen, but does. And let’s not forget those ultra-stylish cult classics From Dusk Til Dawn, Sin City and the Planet Terror half of Grindhouse. That last one brings us neatly to Machete, which started life as a fake trailer on the Grindhouse project.

Not surprisingly, the movie works only for people who will remember the culture of crappy cinema from the 70s. It is remarkable to think that Machete celebrates the ultra-low production values of 70s exploitation cinema, and still comes off better than many of the genre’s originals.

Plot be damned, it’s basically an excuse to make an ultra-violent revenge flick. With Mexicans. Kudos to Rodriguez for working in the immigration issues currently unfolding in the US. But that said, the movie never really makes a political ass of itself.

For one, it’s hilarious. If actors were seriously asked to speak these lines for any other movie, their careers would be over. That R-Rod manages to shoehorn a handful of actual movie stars into completely over-the-top character roles is ingenious. Look out for a mood-setting, crazy opening credit that "introduces" the first-time-actor-to-the-screen Don Johnson.

Secondly, in true exploitation style, the women in the movie are there expressly to be ogled at. Maybe Rodriguez understands that hot Latino women (pardon the exploitative reference) work on screen, because he certainly ramps up the ogle factor with loads gratuitous nudity, rippling lady thighs, cleavage, and tight shirts. Hell, even Michelle Rodriguez gets the sexy treatment.

Played across from Danny Trejo’s deadpan and rather striking "ugly", it comes across as a "we-know-that-you-know-that-we-know-this-is-kinda-funny-in-this-day-and-age" thing. Like, dude, that’s so meta.

But the movie is also ultra-fake-violent. Swatting a fly results in a blood spatter on the wall. And while the action deaths aren’t especially creative, they certainly are gory.

On the downside, it’s debatable whether this works over the length of a movie. From the opening sequence, where it’s apparent that severed limbs and machete blades going through people are going to be the order of the day, it’s hard to maintain the appeal of that sort of "grind" over 90 minutes.

It's ironic that the appeal of Machete is also its weak point, but that doesn’t stop the movie from being a lot of fun while you’re watching it. And like the genre it pays homage to, it’s completely forgettable once it’s over. A perfect popcorn flick, then.

Plot be damned, this is basically an excuse to make an ultra-violent revenge flick.

Critical Meerkat 2010/10/26 1:26 PM
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If you can forgive extreme profanity, unrealistic blood fountains, a predictable and choppy story and painfully bad dialogue, then there's really nothing holding you back from enjoying Robert Rodriquez's latest bloodfest - aptly named after its hero's favourite weapon, 'Machete'. Spending time on unraveling Machete's plot is totally pointless as the plot itself only serves as an attempted mechanism for giving the gruesome (and often hilarious) scenes of violence a platform of execution. But it is in this never-ending list of obvious shortcomings that lies the movie's greatest beauty: Yes, Machete is supposed to be horrible, unoriginal and awesomely cheezy. Machete is in fact a spoof of itself, cleverly utilizing all the elements characteristic of B-grade action films to make fun of itself as well as the genre it is portraying. As soon as the movie-goer realizes and accepts this fact, Machete can be enjoyed in its full glory as a humorous and silly, but insanely fun take on America's border control legislation and those who enforce as well as oppose it. The movie also has a surprisingly lot to say about propaganda and how it is still used as an effective political campaign promoter (but this is definitely not explored deeply enough to make you question your views on the subject). The movie also benefits from a star studded list of actors, that include Don Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Danny Trejo and the king of cheezy action movies himself, Steven Segal. Lindsay Lohan must also be commended for being willing to play a character very similar to herself, serving as a great chunk of irony that becomes more and more ridiculous as the movie progresses. Machete joins the list of Rodriguez's films (like Once upon a time in Mexico) that are destined to be misinterpreted, but those who 'get' its amazing horridness will find themselves laughing all the way to the credits. Best viewed with a Large popcorn and Slush or 10 years later on E-TV. Highlights: 1. Machete's undeniable charm with the ladies is so irresistible, that he finds that he needs very few words to win their respect and admiration in the bedroom. 2. A discussion about the length of the human intestines inspires Machete to test the validity of the discussions' claims in the form of an unbelievably cheezy action sequence.
didi didi 2010/10/26 2:27 PM
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WOW!!! I LIKE I LIKE.BABY
Lee 2010/11/12 2:20 PM
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Thats it i'm going to the cinema right now!
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