I’m sure most of you know this, but in 2007, directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino teamed up to make the campy horror flick GRINDHOUSE, which was meant to be a throwback to the old, cheesy, horror films of the 60’s and 70’s. It debuted to mixed results but most of us felt it was a fun idea, even if the two movies that made up the film weren’t spectacular. One of the neat things they did was make up their own “trailers” for other films, one of which was called “Machete”. Fans seemed to like the idea and Robert Rodriguez took the idea to heart and that’s how we have a full length feature film of what was supposed to be nothing more than a humorous trailer for a movie that was to never exist.
Needless to say, this movie will only appeal to a very niche market. The problem I have with this and Robert Rodriguez’s half of GRINDHOUSE (PLANET TERROR) is that the entire film seems to be riding on the idea that it’s fun to make a cheesy movie. I respect that, but I also feel it’s possible to make a cheesy movie and make it well. As fan-friendly as Rodriguez is, he seems to forget that fact when he’s making his films and now we can add MACHETE to the list of “yeah, but” films on his resume. In other words, yeah, the film was a nice homage to cheesy action/horror films of the 60’s and 70’s, but there’s a reason those movies aren’t made today.
Danny Trejo is the title character, Machete, an illegal Mexican immigrant trying to mind his own business when he gets caught in the pseudo-war that’s brewing over illegal immigration on the Texas border. Of course, he’s still sore over the fact that Torrez (Steven Seagal) murdered his family in brutal fashion three years earlier. In typical 70’s cheese, every woman he encounters, including Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez, throw themselves at him and of course, he kills dozens of bad guys on his way to saving the day.
So what you’re left with is a cheesy homage to bad action/horror movies that doesn’t add anything new or do anything different. Yes, Trejo has some funny moments (“Machete don’t text”), but they were too few and far between. We needed more comedy and less of the actors walking around trying to be serious. Everything about this film screams “campy fun” except the dialogue. It wasn’t that it was bad, it’s more that it was amateurish in that high-schooler-trying-to-write-a-script kind of way. And if this film was written by a non-Mexican, the media would be hailing this as one of the most racist movies since THE BIRTH OF A NATION. I guess it all comes down to intentions, but I felt Rodriguez pushed that boundary too far at times.
If you’re going to do a movie like this, you have to add something to the genre. You have to take the 40 years of advancements in filmmaking and use that to your advantage. Without adding something to the script or doing something unique with the action, your film falls right in line with the bad movies it’s supposed to be mocking, which is exactly what happened to MACHETE.
Video (1.85:1): Rodriguez tried to make it look like an old film from the 70’s with grain added in, but the gimmick didn’t work as this was such a crystal clear Blu-ray release.
Audio (5.1 DTS-HD): It also had a great audio track that was used very well.
Audience Reaction Track: This is a track you can watch throughout the film and enjoy the movie like you were in a theater.
Deleted Scenes (10:59): There are ten of these short deleted scenes. If you enjoyed the film you will probably really enjoy these too, although they were rightfully cut from the film.
Red Band Theatrical Trailer