Directors: Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis
Cast: Danny Trejo, Steven Seagal, Jessica Alba, Robert DeNiro, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson
So I finally managed to get a copy of Machete, which is banned here due to its over-the-top violence and sexual content. For those of you who don't know, Machete was originally a fake trailer for Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse film, and it became so popular Rodriguez decided to make a full length film out of it.
The story begins with Machete (Danny Trejo), a Federale carrying out a rescue mission involving a girl, only to get double crossed by his superiors. His arch nemesis Torrez (Steven Seagal), who masterminded the double cross subsequently kills Machete's wife and daughter, and leaves him for dead.
Three years later, Machete is doing odd jobs near the border when he is approached by Michael Booth (Jeff Fahey), a businessman who offers him $150,000 to kill Senator McLaughlin (Robert DeNiro). The senator is a staunch supporter of preventing illegal immigrants from crossing the border, and Booth wants him silenced so that the flow of cheap labour will continue to bring him profits. Machete agrees, but when he attempts to shoot the man, he gets double crossed by Booth and is now a wanted man. It turns out that Booth works for McLaughlin, and the attempt was meant to swing support for the senator's campaign.
Machete is now on the run, but he gets assistance from Mexican vigilante Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), his brother turned priest Padre (Cheech Marin) and ICE agent Sartana Rivera (Jessica Alba). He eventually learns that Booth is in cahoots with Torrez, therefore an opportunity to get even emerges.
Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis, who has helped edit Rodriguez's films in the past, share directing credits here. Like Planet Terror, Machete has the old 70s feel to it, from the way it was shot, to the action choreography and the music as well.There is rarely a dull moment as Rodriguez piles on the action, gore and some funny moments too. Some of the lines here are downright corny, like it was a B-grade action flick, but it doesn't make you cringe, in fact it kinda suits the mood of the film and would easily make you chuckle.
The cast perform splendidly for the most part. Trejo gets a chance at last to be the lead hero, and though his age is showing, he has great screen presence here. Alba and Michelle Rodriguez make for good eye candy, while Seagal and Fahey are convincing as the slimy villains, especially the latter. DeNiro is also fun to watch as the slightly weasel-like senator. Cheech Marin is quite underused here but makes his short screen time memorable. Don Johnson is good as a menacing border vigilante, while Lindsay Lohan gets a thankless role as Booth's daughter, and she gets topless in a couple of scenes too.
What works against Machete however is the fact that there are too many characters to follow here. It does make things a tad complicated in the middle third of the film. Perhaps Rodriguez ought to condense his film a little bit, not in the running time aspect but in the plot and characters aspect.
Overall, it's quite fun to watch Machete. It doesn't make me want to look forward to the upcoming sequel Machete Kills though. (3.5/5)