MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Based on the popular fake trailer in the film “Grindhouse,” “Machete” tells the story of an ex-Federali who gets caught up in an assassination attempt on a Texas Senator running for reelection. When he goes on the run, he taps into the Network, and underground organization that helps illegal immigrants across the U.S.-Mexican border. This ode to Mexican exploitation cinema is loaded with violence, blood, boobs, guns and explosions.
WHAT I LIKED
Like the rest of the geek crowd, I cheered when the original “Machete” fake trailer ran in the middle of “Grindhouse.” It looked like such fun, but that’s the result of all grindhouse cinema. The trailers look great. The 90-minute movies aren’t nearly as entertaining.
Taking this into account, “Machete” is a brilliant movie simply because it does keep its level of energy up throughout most of the show. It doesn’t come to a screeching halt after the first action scene, like many of the low-budget action films of the 70s and 80s did. It’s not perfect, but with low expectations, it’s a fun ride.
I liked this film a lot more on Blu-ray than I did when I saw it in the theaters. I think this was because my expectations were just too high. The action is fun and over-the-top. The violence is brutal and bloody. There’s sexy women, including Jessica Alba in digitally airbrushed nudeness, Michelle Rodriguez looking badass in leather and an eye patch and director Robert Rodriguez’s nieces-in-law as sexy nurses (which, I’ll admit, is a little creepy).
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
When I saw “Machete” in the theater, I got a bit annoyed with the pervasive preaching about the immigration issue. It still bothers me a bit, but I have gotten over it because I know it’s coming. Robert Rodriguez has said that he put this in because it fits in the mold of exploitation cinema. For the most part, this is forgivable, though he still has two or three moments where it’s not an homage to exploitation cinema but rather just preaching.
I do with this movie would have played out more true to its humble beginnings in the “Grindhouse” feature. I liked the intentionally aged look from the original trailer, which is abandoned after the first reel. I understand this was done because most of the audience wouldn’t get it, but I wish it were still there.
That, and the CGI blood, which is just shameful. Rodriguez should have used red paint like every other exploitation movie did in the 70s and 80s.
The Blu-ray is disappointingly bare, especially for a Robert Rodriguez film. All we get is the audience reaction soundtrack, which is really just a novelty, as well as a nice assortment of deleted scenes. There is BD-Live access, which purports exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, but I can’t understand why they couldn’t fit that on the Blu-ray.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of exploitation cinema.