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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Machete

January 1st, 2011

Machete - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray / Digital Copy

Back in 2007, Robert Rodriguez teamed up with Quentin Tarantino to make Grindhouse, an homage to the exploitation films they grew up on. The double-feature recreated the grindhouse experience right down to the scratchy print, the missing scenes, and even the trailers between the double-feature. While it earned good reviews, it wasn't able to find an audience in theaters. Despite this, there was such a large amount of buzz surrounding one of the fake trailers that it was turned into a feature-length movie. That movie is Machete. There are some films that have taken a stranger route to cinema's but not many.

The Movie

Danny Trejo stars as Machete, an incorruptible Federale working to take down a Kingpin, Torrez. The film starts with a blood filled, and boob filled, attempt to assault his compound and rescue a kidnapped witness, but he is betrayed by his boss, his wife and daughter are killed, and he left for dead. But Machete is a hard man to kill.

Three years later he is working as a day laborer in the United States when he is approached by a businessman, Booth, who wants him to kill Senator John McLaughlin, whose campaign is built on stoking up racist hatred of illegals. Booth is less concerned about the racial hatred than he is about the loss of cheap illegal labor. At first Machete refuses, but the offer is very lucrative, and frankly the target deserves it. (When we first see McLaughlin, he's riding long with Von's vigilante group and he participates in the shooting of a pregnant woman.) But the assassination is a setup and the man that hired Machete is working with the Senator. Nothing will increase your poll numbers like surviving an assassination attempt. Now Machete is looking to get revenge on the men that set him up. And he has a lot of help.

At least that's the A-plot. This movie is an ensemble piece bordering on Gratuitous Cameos, and there a number of B-plots. These include, Jessica Alba playing an immigration officer (and her slutty, cold-medicine addicted twin seen in a deleted scene) who is trying to bust a network run by She setup to help illegals get into the country and assimilate.

There's also a cameo by Lindsay Lohan as the drugged out daughter of a businessman. ... No comment.

This film earned good reviews, especially for a September release, but it barely made more at the box office than the original film did. This is because it shares a lot of the same problems, as well as many of the same strengths. It's highly entertaining, but also widely over-the-top filled with gratuitous blood and violence, not to mention its fair share of nudity. For fans of this type of film, this is definitely a selling point, but it will turn off just as many people as well. Additionally, the political aspect of the story is overdone and could have used some subtlety to be more effective. (Although I do like Booth's bodyguards acting as a "Greek Chorus".) Finally, the quieter moments of the movie are not nearly as compelling as the action scenes are.

Fortunately the action scenes far outnumber the rest and those looking for mayhem will find more than enough in this movie to satisfy their appetites.

The Extras

The extras on the DVD are terrible with just some deleted scenes, while the Blu-ray has behind-the-scenes footage, but its BD-Live only. There's also an "audition reaction" audio track, which is fun, but hardly substantial. Quite frankly, that's a disappointing selection of extras. Also, in keeping with the Grindhouse aestetic, the video quality is less than ideal in a number of instances with colors that are faded and washed out, noticeable grain, etc. The sound is better, with good use of the surround sound speakers. The Blu-ray also comes with a Digital Copy of the movie, but does cost nearly 40% more.

The Verdict

If you liked Grindhouse and / or thought the Machete fake trailer was the best part, then the full movie is a fun ride. It's not perfect and could have been a little subtle in its message and perhaps a little shorter overall, but it is still worth checking out. Neither the DVD nor the Blu-ray / Digital Copy have much in the way of extras, so only purchase if you think the film itself has high replay value.


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