By Bryan Menegus, Staff Writer
Robert Rodriguez's "Machete" is gruesome, gory, hypersexual and tasteless…that being said, it's also one of the most irreverently fun movies of the year. A spin-off of a fake trailer in 2007's Rodriguez/Tarantino joint venture, "Grindhouse," Machete takes its cues from its point of origin. Machete simultaneously pays homage to, and mocks, the over-the-top, cartoonish and downright amateur elements of B-movies of yore, bombarding viewers with improbable plot twists, scantily-clad women (Lindsay Lohan among them) and most importantly, buckets and buckets of blood to match the highly-stylized murder sprees.
"Machete," played by the strong-and-largely-silent Danny Trejo, begins his tale as a Mexican Federale who oversteps the law in the name of justice, in an attempt to bring down a powerful drug lord named Torrez, a character hilariously cast to Steven Seagal. Of course, Trejo is set up, betrayed, and watches his wife be executed by Seagal just before being left for dead in a house on fire.
The meat of the film takes place three years later. Machete, now an illegal immigrant in Texas, is making his living doing yard work and odd jobs to get by. Naturally his violent past drags him back to killing, first for money, and then for his convictions, bringing two beautiful broads along for the ride; an immigrations officer (Jessica Alba) and a revolutionary who owns a taco truck (Michelle Rodriguez).
While the goofy roller coaster of blood and guts makes no attempt at realism, "Machete's" social backdrop- a commentary on illegal immigration, corrupt lawmakers and the average citizens on either side of the fence- allows the film to breathe where similarly-oriented late-summer popcorn flick "The Exp endables" felt stiff, clunky and repetitive, despite being bolstered with bigger names and a bigger budget. "Machete" came clean with its intentions from the first trailer and kept them firmly in place throughout the film, never putting its agenda before the action or humor.
Fans of "Grindhouse" will see "Machete"as not just the logical next step, but also as an improvement, especially now that the experience isn't shackled to a cut-rate Russ Meyers sycophant's wet dream via Tarantino. Everyone who goes to see "Machete" knows what they're in for, and it delivers with style and panache. For those ready to jump on board the B-movie revival bandwagon, yet another of the original "Grindhouse"fake trailers is being produced into a feature-length film: "Hobo with a Shotgun,"which is slated for release in spring of 2011.