Machete review: Mexploitation at its sharpest

Machete is bringing back the exploitation films of yore into this crisp and clean age.

Property of Rodriguez International Pictures

Cutting down corruption, one limb at a time.

As the film grain hits the screen in this high-definition era, there already is a feeling of being duped.

Machete is bringing back the exploitation films of yore into this crisp and clean age. With an absence of logic and bloody blade, Machete is a disgustingly ferocious satire on America’s immigration issues and the sensibility of taking themselves too seriously.

Machete follows the exploits and “Death Wish”-esque revenge trail of titular character Machete (66-year-old Danny Trejo), a legendary straight cut ex-Federale literally cut loose by Mexican drug lord Torrez (the ever substantial Steven Segal). Machete’s incorruptible ways sends him from his loyal life with his wife and child to the deepest depths of sorrow with Torrez killing his family and marking Machete an enemy of Mexico and an immigrant worker in the United States.

As a day laborer, Machete meets Luz (the subtly angry Michelle Rodriguez), taco shop owner and image of the Mexican revolution against Senator John McLaughlin (the very faux-Texan Robert De Niro) and his campaign for harsh immigration laws.

As Machete gets deeper involved in corrupt American politics due to businessman Michael Booth (Psycho 3’s… um Lost’s Jeff Fahey), he becomes ever entwined with Immigration Officer Sartana Rivera (the post-baby Jessica Alba) and her struggles with what is right and what is wrong. From just a simple revenge plot to a full-blown revolution, Machete delivers on its explosions, plot-wise and action-wise.

Director Robert Rodriguez continues the Mexploitation genre he started. All the elements are in place. Drug lords, immigration, corruption, revenge and the search for redemption.

Though not as serious as his films in the Mexico trilogy (El Mariachi, Desperado and Once Upon A Time In Mexico), Rodriguez ups the fun factor by making the absurd commonplace.

There is no need to question why Machete can fly through the air on a motorcycle firing a mounted mini-gun or how a man’s intestines can support his weight through a window. It just is. Rodriguez has made what he wants to have always seen in a movie and he isn’t alone.

With these absurd ideas come and an even more absurd and surprising cast. Seeing Steven Segal as a Mexican drug lord speaks volumes by itself, but adding in Don Johnson, Robert De Niro, Cheech Marin, Tom Savini and Lindsay Lohan essentially playing herself flushes logic down every Hollywood agents’ throats.

Performances from Alba and Rodriguez are as bad as predicted but considering what this film is, everything is forgiven and actually very welcomed, contributing more to that exploitation film feel and its welcomed flaws. Machete is a very redeemable oxymoron.

Though Machete has many of its flaws on its sleeve, present and proud, this self-aware attitude makes up for any of those shortcomings then gives Hollywood logic another shot to the head.

Originally published on Sept. 13, 2010 @

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About Kenny Redublo

What I'm trying to do most is trying to do something. It's these short lines of writing that describe me most. Concise but maybe, in a way, poignant.
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