Monday, 29 November 2010



Carts and horses. This is a full-length feature extruded from one of the fake trailers in the middle of the Grindhouse double-bill, before the two features, Death Proof and Planet Terror, were separated for financial (sorry, artistic) reasons and the trailers dropped entirely from the theatrical releases, although they are apparently on the Grindhouse DVD release. Frankly, though it's undeniably good grisly entertainment while it's playing, I'm not sure the joke ("They just f***ed with the wrong Mexican!") gains massively from being extended from three minutes to a whopping hundred and five.

An extremely violent, all-star exploitation spectacular which is dumb to the power of stupid and proud of it, Machete tells of a one-time Mexican cop reduced to the status of an illegal immigrant and day labourer after his wife and child are killed by an evil drugs baron (Steven Seagal!). Hired by slimy Jeff Fahey to assassinate a racist right-wing Senator (Robert De Niro!), Machete realises too late that he's been set up and, with the aid of a secret immigrant support network led by Michelle Rodriguez (who shows up for the final battle sequence with an eyepatch, black leather bra and bare midriff!) he strikes back, finding an ally in a glamorous Immigration Officer (Jessica Alba!). Machete also cops off with Fahey's daughter (Lindsay Lohan!) and ultimately gets to lead the Mexican revolution at the headquarters of a mad Texan supremacist vigilante (Don Johnson!). And there's still Steven Seagal to contend with...

Look, Machete is rubbish. But it is full-throttle rubbish with lots of old-fashioned gore - severed heads, ripped entrails, lopped limbs - and gratuitous nudity from Lohan and Alba. They've tried to make it look a bit like a 70s movie with the editing and the scratched lines in that Grindhouse kind of a way, which doesn't really make much sense when people are using mobile phones, DVDs and online webcams. Machete himself is a terrific character - not just a nickname to reflect his combat weapon of choice, Machete is actually the man's registered name - and it's great to see the incredibly weathered Danny Trejo in a lead role. The political stuff, about how the low cost of Mexican immigrant labour is vital for the local economy, is there if you want it but the ultimate object of the exercise is the outlandish violence and the sense of nostalgia for the heyday of the sleazy exploitation flick. Machete is fun while it's on, and has a genuinely great cast - Robert De Niro obviously doesn't feel he needs to prove himself any more and can just kick back and have some fun - but it doesn't last in the mind as a particularly good movie. Maybe the upcoming Hobo With A Shotgun can do it better.


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