Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Machete Kills
Machete had one of the strangest origins. It began as a fake trailer in Grindhouse, but the fake trailer was so popular they turned it into a real movie. Unfortunately, while that movie earned good reviews, the target audience for Grindhouse cinema is too small to thrive in theaters. It must have done well enough to justify a sequel in someone's mind, albeit a sequel with a greatly reduced production budget being released by a smaller studio. But can the sequel live up to its predecessor?
Before the film begins, we see a fake trailer for the third film. My favorite part was Lady Gaga's character.
The film begins with Machete and fellow ICE agent / girlfriend, Sartana, busting a corrupt military squad who are selling weapons to a drug cartel. When the drug cartel shows up, they massacre the soldiers before Machete can kill most of them. Most of them is the key. The leader, a man in a Luchador mask, shots Sartana in the head with a futuristic gun. Machete sees her body and is so distraught the Luchado Leader gets the jump on him, but just then the cops come and the guy runs.
This isn't the end of trouble for Machete. He's arrested and the deaths of the soldiers are pinned on him. The local Sheriff decides to do a little vigilante justice and hangs Machete. It doesn't take. His deputy says there are rumors that Machete can't be killed. They can't test this theory, because the President calls. Seems the cartel war in Mexico is about to spillover into the States. Marcos Mendez is threatening to launch a missile at Washington, D.C. if the United States doesn't go into Mexico and stop the drug cartels and clean up the corrupt government. The President offers to grant Machete full citizenship if he goes into Mexico and takes care of Mendez.
But before he can take out Mendez, he has to get close to him. That's where his handler, Blanca Vasquez, a.k.a., Miss San Antonio, comes into the picture. She knows Mendez has one weakness, a prostitute named Cereza. If he can get to her, he can get to Mendez. However, to get to her, he will have to get through Madame Desdemona, who just happens to be Cereza's mother. That's a dysfunctional family.
This is as good a place as any to end the plot summary.
So how does Machete Kills compare to Machete? I have some good news and some bad news. It maintains the Grindhouse feel with mostly non-stop over-the-top action. This allows for some very entertaining fight scenes, as long as you are a fan of the genre. On the downside, the film feels monotonous at times. This seems rather strange to say, given the number of action scenes, and the variety that does appear. (I especially like the car chase in the armored El Camino.) But even so, the action scenes tend to blend together. There are also many fun cameos, which is another holdover from the first movie. This is sometimes good, but sometimes bad, as most characters have zero development. There's just not enough screen time to go around. Also, the plot is needless complicated with far too many double-crosses and surprise twists and this causes the movie to drag at times.
If you loved the first movie, you will still likely enjoy this one as well. If you hated the first movie, stay away from this one. If you only sort of liked the first movie, watch it again.
There are 20 minutes of deleted / extended scenes, as well as a 20-minute making of featurette. I would have liked an audio commentary track, but what you get is worth checking out.
The movie was really low-budget compared to most wide releases, but you can't tell based on the audio and video quality. The film looks great with a high level of details and strong colors, except when Grindhouse aesthetics dictate otherwise. There are a few issues with shadows, but otherwise it looks great. The audio is just as strong with all speakers getting a workout, especially the bass.
The Blu-ray costs $4 or 21% more than the DVD. You can't complain about that price.
Machete Kills is weaker than its predecessor, but it has enough high-energy entertainment that fans of Machete should enjoy it. The DVD and the Blu-ray Combo Pack don't have a lot of extras, so it is only worth picking up if you are a hardcore fan of the genre.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2014-01-17