Before I get into the details of Machete itself, let's take a moment to celebrate the fact that someone - not surprisingly Robert Rodriguez - has finally made a movie starring Danny Trejo. This is an idea whose time has certainly come.
I'm sure even many of my readers who aren't Grindhouse or Rodriguez fans can at least appreciate that Trejo is cinema treasure of recent years, appearing in movies of all sorts in recent years and always bringing a strong, charismatic presence.
So, let's all join together for a moment and celebrate this.
For anyone who doesn't know, Machete came to public awareness as a mock trailer attached to Grindhouse, the faux double-bill by Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. The basic concept is a play on Blaxploitation, playing the same kinds of cultural touchstones and overcooked bits of politics, applying them to Mexicans rather than African-Americans.
So, how do Rodriguez and his collaborators, co-writer Alvaro Rodriguez and co-director Ethan Maniquis, succeed at extending this concept to a fully feature?
Much like Black Dynamite, which beat it out the gate, Machete manages to tread a tight line between parodying - or just having fun with - Blaxploitation, Mexican-American culture and immigration politics and also telling a story that could have - and perhaps even should have - existed back in the heyday of this kind of moviemaking.
The politics here are from the Roger Corman school. We should never take them seriously, and certainly not seriously enough to distract from the entertainment and exploitation elements, but it is there, something to chew on and discuss when it's over, for whatever it's worth... and through the exploitation lens of scenery chewing villains, that's probably not worth a whole lot.
But the movie is too much fun to resist!
It's fun just seeing how the movie refuses to let up. I laughed and cheered nearly the whole way through.
I'm sure lots of worthwhile praise will go to so much of the cast, including worthwhile praise for re-discoveries Jeff Fahey and Don Johnson, so I want to make a note of how much I enjoyed Tom Savini and former Spy Kids co-star Daryl Sabara.
Ok, and Cheech Marin!
I had a blast, and so did, it seems, the crowded late afternoon audience at the Alamo Drafthouse.
I know we had somewhat more fun than other crowds might, because it's got a ton of great Austin spotting... perhaps the best I've seen... but I enjoyed it just as a guy who enjoys having fun at the movies.
I would've stayed and watched the next showing if it wasn't already sold out.
I'm officially a fan.
Bring on Machete Kills!