“Machete” – 2010. Dir. Robert Rodriguez and Evan Maniquis


With Danny Trejo, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Lindsey Lohan, Cheech Marin, Tom Salvi, Shea Whigham; Introducing Don Johnson with Jeff Fahey and Robert De Niro

“This cucaracha has got AK-47s and he’s laying waste to everything that gets in his fucking path!” – Senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro)

“Machete” kicks fucking ass. For those of you who live under a rock, a few years ago Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino made a double feature film called “Grindhouse” (which was a throwback to 70’s B films) where each filmmaker made a film, and there were “fake” trailers that were before each film; and this is where “Machete” was born. It was a kick ass, pulpy, grindhouse style trailer were an angry Mexican (Danny Trejo) kicks ass.

Rodriguez announced he was going to make it a feature, and no one heard much about it until it’s cast was released. This film has one of the greatest most fucked up ensemble casts I have ever seen: Danny Trejo as Machete, Steven Seagal as a Mexican (yes, he’s Mexican in it) drug kingpin Torrez, Michelle Rodriguez as the leader of the “network”, Jessica Alba who works for immigration, Lindsey Lohan as a caricature of herself, Cheech Marin as Machete’s priest brother, Don Johnson as the head minute man killing illegal’s, Jeff Fahey as the man who hires and then double-crosses Machete and Robert De Niro as the Rush Limbaugh/Glenn Beck wet dream Senator McLaughlin.

This movie is absurd and it’s a lot of fun. This film is so over-the-top dealing with not only a throwback exploitation film, but with the issue of illegal immigration. This film just shows the actual absurdity of the actual issue of illegal immigration and how it is so blown out of proportion.

There are so many things about this film that I noticed and that I loved. I loved that Steven Seagal not only played a bad guy for the first time in his career, but he was supposed to be a Mexican who fought with some sort of ninja sword. What makes it funnier is the fact that Seagal is wearing the baggiest cloths ever. You’re not fooling anyone; but I admire your attitude. Alright, before I get into how awesome Seagal is and the rest of the cast lets dive into the storyline of “Machete”.

Danny Trejo is a federal agent in the Mexican government and he’s going to find a girl that is going to testify against drug kingpin Torrez (I still can’t get over Seagal playing a Mexican). He drives to this compound, kills a bunch of guys and while he stumbles across this naked girl who he’s trying to save, she stabs him with his own machete and in walks Seagal who is frustrated with Machete not taking his bribes, so he pulls out Machete’s wife, cuts her head off and tells him he killed his daughter. He stabs and cuts Machete and leaves him for dead.

Flash forward three years.

Machete is in Texas working as a day laborer. He gets picked up by Booth (Jeff Fahey) a mysterious business man who offers Machete $100,000 to assassinate the tea partying State Senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro with an awesomely amazing campy accent). Machete who is being watched by Jessica Alba who works for the US Immigration forms a truce with both Alba and Michelle Rodriguez who plays She, the woman who runs the underground network of shuttling Mexicans from Mexico and tries to set them up with jobs in America.

Don Johnson plays Von, who is a “good ole boy” who drives around in a Hummer and kills illegal’s crossing the border. He’s secretly backing De Niro’s campaign that’s built on illegal immigrants and how they are all “terrorists”. I love how Robert Rodriguez rubs our nose in it, and we have no choice but to love it. If you get offended by De Niro’s character – you obviously just don’t get it.

Michelle Rodriguez is fucking sexy. (J)Wow(w). She seriously has got to be one of the most attractive women I have ever seen on screen. I mean, that eye patch she dons at the end of the film made me get a husky chubb. I think I’m in love with her. Peace out George Michael!

Lindsey Lohan plays the daughter of Jeff Fahey in the film, and she’s so great in it because she plays a fucked up party girl who has her own pornographic internet website. How awesome is it that she essentially is making fun of herself. I’ve got to give her credit. What I found really funny was when it came to her “sex scene” with her mother in the film and Danny Trejo – it was a body double portraying Lohan. I thought that was funny.

Don Johnson’s in this? And shares screen time with De Niro? How great is that?! Don Johnson had pretty much fallen off the face of the planet since “Miami Vice” and “Nash Bridges” but he’s back in action as the cliché ridden vigilante who’s great granddaddy died at the Alamo. Watching the opening credits was fun, because when they got to Johnson it freeze framed a picture of him and the texted appeared: Introducing Don Johnson. That is classic!

Steven Seagal gets second billing in the film! He spends most of his screen time talking via webcam. Come on! That’s pretty funny! Seagal is so good/bad in this film it makes me really, really miss him as an actor. It’s good to see him in theaters again, I mean – it’s only been eight years.

Jessica Alba is an awful actress. She’s lucky that her character is supposed to be played by an awful actress because her character is so awful.

Robert De Niro is a baller (I have to stop saying that word) for playing this role. I can’t help but think that since De Niro is such a gigantic liberal he must have had a blast playing this character. I don’t think a lot of people picked up on this, but I love how De Niro’s accent drops in certain scenes of the film. This is one of De Niro’s best performances in YEARS. He’s so over-the-top and so fucking campy he’s nothing less than HYSTERICAL!

Jeff Fahey has drifted around a lot as an actor, and I’ve always liked him since “Silverado”. When I saw him in “Planet Terror” I was jacked, and now that he is in “Machete” I’m even happier because he’s just so damn good in the film.

Danny Trejo is awesome as Danny Trejo in this. He finally got a vehicle where he’s the lead actor and it’s great. He doesn’t only kick ass, but he hooks up with Lohan and her mom, Michelle Rodriguez and Jessica Alba – fuck yeah Trejo!

My only complaint about the film is that its run time is slightly long. This film would have been perfect if it would have had a runtime of about 80 – 90 minutes. Some of the scenes aren’t needed at all (I guess you can argue that about most of the movie) and it just gets to the point where you want the film to get wrapped up.

The film also pokes fun at text messaging. Look, texting is pretty lame and for as much as we bitch about texting, we still do it. Kind of like facebook.

This film is everything that it should have been, trashy and violent with nudity and corny dialogue. It works very well, and Robert Rodriguez has shown his knack and talent in this genre that he’s excelled at. His El Mariachi trilogy, “From Dusk Till Dawn”, and “Sin City” are the bedrocks of how he has taken pulp material and sub-genres and made a career out of it (and not to mention his talent for directing family movies).

I am enjoying this Grindhouse theme that has been bubbling up. I enjoy “Planet Terror” a whole hell of a lot, and I enjoy the first half of “Death Proof”. I really, really, really, really love Larry Bishop’s biker flick “Hell Ride” – I think that is the best “grindhouse” film to date. “Machete” will not disappoint but it will offend (Lindsey Lohan running around with a magnum in a nun outfit)…

And just wait until De Niro dresses up like a Mexican. It’s AWEsome. What’s even greater about De Niro in the film are campaign commercials that pop up periodically throughout. Those political ads are laugh out loud funny. This is De Niro’s best performance since “Jackie Brown”.

I was also hoping for cameos by characters that are staples in Rodriguez/Tarantino universe like El Mariachi, Earl McGraw, Elrey or Dr. Block – but I think it’s safe to say that Machete exists on his own terms. This film is everything “The Expendables” wanted to be. The movie is just plain fun.

You know that Rodriguez is going to make two more “Machete” films right? And what’s most impressive about the film is the fact that Danny Trejo is 66 years old. WOW.

Rating: 9/10

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Top Ten Supporting Performances of the Decade – #9 Josh Brolin “Planet Terror”.

“No more dead bodies for Da Da tonight.”

This is the role that started the ball rolling that allowed us the pleasure of Josh Brolin. If it wouldn’t have been for “Planet Terror”, we would have missed out on Brolin’s magnificent performances in “No Country for Old Men”, “W” and “Milk” and his upcoming roles in “True Grit” and “Jonah Hex”. I remember seeing the trailers for “Grindhouse” and being so excited for “Death Proof” and not caring less about “Planet Terror”. To take a quick sidestep, Brolin said he got a copy of the script of “No Country” and wanted to audition for the Coens. At that time, they had their sights set on Heath Ledger for the role of Llewellyn Moss. Ledger then decided to back out and take a well deserved rest from film. Brolin again tried to audition for the Coen Brothers and it wasn’t until he sent in an audition tape directed by Robert Rodriguez and shot by Quentin Tarantino that the Coens let Brolin read for the part. I can’t imagine a better audition tape then that! Okay, back to the task at hand. I’m sorry, but “Planet Terror” is a far superior film then “Death Proof”. It had all the elements of a great genre movie. The story was absurd – yet compelling, the script was air tight, the direction and cinematography were brilliant and the cast of the film was impeccable. Robert Rodriguez brought all these actors together, from bankable stars like Bruce Willis and Fergie to relatively unknowns to the masses – Freddy Rodriguez and Rose McGowan – to washed up actors like Josh Brolin, Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey and Michael Parks.

As far as this blogger is concerned, Josh Brolin steals the show as Dr. William Block. I just love the name, William Block. The name sounds vague yet mysterious at the same time. Brolin is just marvelous as he navigates his way through his suspicions about his wife’s infidelities and a night at the hospital that is filled with zombie bitten patients, Josh Brolin steals the show. It makes me tense as Brolin sucks and chews on the glass thermometer that he keeps in his mouth. His goatee and glasses make him look tremendously threatening and he peers over his glasses with his eyes filled with accusations. Brolin’s straight forward Southern drawl (that he later revisits and prefects in “No Country”) is crisp, and filled with deep seeded anger and rage.

The physical acting ability he displays is a wonder to me. It’s as if inside of Block there is a caged animal that is bursting at the seams to break out, to cause chaos and let it rain. It’s as if his caged beast is rocking back and forth in its cage, just waiting to take over. The film itself is over the top and campy, but with Brolin’s performance it brings the film back to its roots, a horror film. I truly feel that his performance holds the film together, as soon as it starts to stretch itself a tad thin, Dr. William Block snaps it back. Whenever Brolin is on the screen, we’re captivated by him, we’re at his will. We know he’s a bad man without knowing anything about him or his past. Think about it for a second – we know very little about Dr. Block, but through Brolin’s perfect timing as an actor, and through the camera angles and shots that Rodriguez shows us, we know one thing for sure: Josh Brolin is one bad motherfucker.