Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Movie Theater: Machete (2010)

Enter the crazy world of Robert Rodriguez

The second visit to Sunday Movie Theater this month after "Mimic" (1997). ^^

This is going to be one outrageous ride in the crazy world of Robert Rodriguez, the director of this movie. ^^

Movie poster is from IMDB.

Trailer of the movie.
Video clip is from Youtube. Follow this link to the website if you can't see anything.

"Machete", a 2010 movie directed by Ethan Maniquis and Robert Rodriguez. Technical movie details can be seen on IMDB.

This movie has a very interesting back story linked to "Death Proof" introduced back in April. ^^ Before getting its individual release, "Death Proof" was one of the two movies featured in "Grindhouse". The other movie was "Planet Terror", which was also directed by Robert Rodriguez. In between the two movies, fake movie trailers and advertisements were added just for the fun of it I suppose. ^^ "Machete" was one of those fake trailers that received an actual production due to its popularity. ^^ More interestingly, almost all the main cast members shown in that fake trailer came back to reprise their roles in the "actual deal", together with a few other topnotch actors and actresses joining in the crazy ride. ^^ Many iconic scenes from that trailer can be seen in this movie as well, and they were re-shot with the same crazy style and look. A full story created based on a hoax put out for fun many years back. That production background of "Machete" always seems funny to me whenever I re-watch "Grindhouse". ^^

*Caution* NFSW: The fake trailer of "Machete" that was featured in "Grindhouse".
Video clip is from Youtube. Follow this link to the website if you can't see anything.

Beneath all of its craziness, the story of "Machete" is actually quite simple. The title protagonist (played by Danny Trejo), an ex-Mexican federale was been hired by Michael Booth (played by Jeff Fahey), a local businessman in Texas to assassinate Senator McLaughlin (played by Robert De Niro) whose main agenda was on stamping out illegal immigrants. Unknown to Machete, Booth was actually working with Senator McLaughlin to use the assassination attempt to create a propaganda to fuel public anger and to increase support for the senator. Double crossed and nearly killed by the man who hired him for the job, Machete returned for revenge. There are also new story elements not available in the original fake trailer that featured new cast members been added into this movie as well, including (1) a "final boss-class" villain, a katana-wielding drug lord, Rogelio Torrez (played by Steven Seagal) who was tied to Machete's tragic back story, corruption that involves Booth, and the final enemy Machete must take down in a duel (because why not XD), (2) Senator McLaughlin's "hands-on" approach in hunting down illegal immigrants to emphasize his evilness, (3) investigation by the Immigration Department's Agent Sartana Rivera (played by Jessica Alba) as an exposition to reveal the dirty work of Torrez, Booth and McLaughlin, and to set up Agent Sartana as Machete's final love interest, (4) the existence of a resistance group that protected illegal immigrants, led by Luz (played by Michelle Rodriguez), and a border vigilante group bound on hunting down and killing illegal immigrants, led by Von Jackson (Don Johnson) to set up a somewhat large scale all out action and explosion mayhem near the end of the movie, and a few other big and small supporting points. ^^

If some of the plot points or characters above sound ridiculous to you, then they have achieved their intended "objectives" I suppose. XD The story may be simple, but the context, execution, character design, action sequences and special effects were extremely exaggerated, which was exactly the point of this movie. ^^ There were so many scenes and action that didn't make sense at all, but they looked absolutely awesome. ^^ I even feel words like 'cheesy', 'corny' and 'cartoonish' can be used to describe this movie, but that doesn't mean the movie is bad. As a matter of fact, it was fun and extremely enjoyable to me in my first watch and numerous re-watches after that. All the "tricks" of the movie worked well because they never tried to look real in the first place. ^^ How was it possible that Machete the driver was left unscathed in a car driving towards a load of enemies, when his passenger colleague was turned into a beehive from all the shootings? How was it logical that Machete could pull out an enemy goon's intestine and then use it to swing into another building level though the windows? The universal hero movie law of miraculous revival was also demonstrated in "Machete": a minor enemy henchman died right away when shot, but Luz returned as a Xena-like warrior goddess after taking a shot to her eye in close-range. So many people were shooting at one another, with random explosions here and there in the background, but nobody really hit anything unless they were the main cast members. XD There was no sense of authenticity in many of the action scenes, but that point was made very clear in the scenes' execution. ^^

Due to the illogical context of the movie as mentioned above, the movie was able to get away with a lot of really crazy ideas that would be extremely difficult to realize in normal "serious" films, ^^ especially the ones that have no association with Robert Rodriguez. XD For example, Danny Trejo slicing up people left and right with his machetes throughout movie, Michelle Rodriguez's role as mentioned above, Robert De Niro as a cheap, cheeky politician, and Steven Seagal losing a duel. ^^ I'm sure the cast members had a fun time working for their crazy roles in this movie. They probably had a good laugh after completing many of the scenes. ^^

Despite the amusement of illogical elements in the movie, it's still a very violent movie that is not suitable for minors at all. ^^; While it's a lot less grotesque with the absence of pus-oozing brain-eating zombies as seen in "Planet Terror", the same CG bloodsplash and jerky special effect transitions can still be found in "Machete". I guess the two elements can be seen as homages to "Grindhouse" where the fake trailer originated from, which in turn gave rise to this movie. ^^ The level of ridiculousness in the gunfight and explosion areas is about the same between the two movies as well. XD And since Robert Rodriguez directed both movies, there were many familiar faces all around. ^^ Fans of the director's work (I'm certainly one of them ^^) can definitely get a sense of "continuity" from watching his movies because of the cast members' connection. ^^

Now that "Planet Terror" is formally mentioned, a Machete-zombie film would be fantastic I think. XD Quickly, Mr. Rodriguez, make it. XD

Continuing with the idea of the fake trailer as mentioned before (or maybe that's not the case at all ^^), the ending credits of the movie "announced" two sequels, "Machete Kills" and "Machete Kills Again". The former is coming up very soon - September this year. ^^ With controversial actors like Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson joining the cast members, alongside sensational British artist Lady Gaga who will be making her movie debut, plus some of the outrageous character designs as seen on posters released so far, "Machete Kills" seems likely to be a level-up version to the first movie, and I'm certainly all excited about it. ^^ Hopefully there will be a home video release of it here in Malaysia, and if so, not a horribly censored version as well. ^^;

All in all, a silly but definitely very fun movie this is, especially to those who enjoy Robert Rodriguez's movies. Its blatant lack of logic and zero attempt to hide that certainly makes it a really interesting entry in "Sunday Movie Theater". ^^

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