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Film: Machete Review

Three years ago when Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse and Quentin Tarantino’s Planet Terror hit theatres, a “fake” B Grade action movie trailer was included before the double feature. The aforementioned film starred Danny Trejo in the titular role, and it has now been turned into Rodriguez’s latest blockbuster, Machete.

Interestingly, the idea behind Machete was conceived back in the 1990s when Rodriguez believed it was time to see a Latin hero on the big screen. “When I watched [director] John Woo’s movies, they made me want to be Asian. Woo and [actor] Chow Yun-Fat’s Hard Boiled and The Killer really inspired me to make films that would create that feeling in the Latin arena” Rodriguez says (Sony, 2010).  While directing his second feature Desperado starring Antonio Banderas, Rodriguez met actor Danny Trejo and he knew that he had found his Machete. Years later, the movie became a reality. With an eclectic mix of Hollywood stars including Steven Seagal, Robert DeNiro, Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan, Michelle Rodriguez and many others, Machete is an action packed and violent tribute to the exploitation flicks of the 70s.

The film opens with a graphic prologue that sees Machete (Trejo), a strong-willed cop defying the orders of his superior in the hopes of rescuing a young woman from the hands of Mexico’s powerful drug lord Torrez (Seagal). But after Machete’s wife’s head is sliced off before his eyes, he is left for dead in a burning house. Three years later we learn that he is alive, and has managed to cross the border into Texas. After meeting Luz (Michelle Rodriguez) who runs a taco stand and is secretly running a border crossing network, he is hired by Booth (played by Lost’s Jeff Fahey) as part of a plot to ‘assassinate’ Senator McLaughlin (De Niro) whose goal is to introduce an electric fence so that the so called ‘parasites’ and ‘invaders’ cannot enter the country. “McLaughlin lives in the real world, but he’s kind of a mythical figure way out on the fringe. I really appreciated Robert Rodriguez’s sense of humour and irony with the character” Robert De Niro notes (Sony, 2010). The film is concerned with the perils of border control but manages to satirise the underlying racism that exists against Mexican immigrants.

After escaping various bloody confrontations, Machete soon encounters Sartana (Alba), an ex-immigrant and Customs Official whom he later begins a relationship with. Overall, the film is bound by an over-the-top energy that mixes humour with action, and while all of the female characters in the film are unfortunately sexualised on screen, a sense of female empowerment is evidenced through the two strong-willed heroines Luz and Sartana.

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