Machete, directed by Robert Rodriguez and starring Danny Trejo (as well as a plethora of other big name actors and actresses), is at the very least an entertaining way to spend 105 minutes.
Originally, Machete was a mock trailer for Grindhouse double feature (2007), but fan instantly cried for more more more Machete. Can we blame them? Cheap thrills, violence, sex, humour, and socially unacceptable characters is usually not disappointing.
But before I can even review Machete, I think its important to understand where Machete fits into cinema history. Exploitation movies have fallen out of favour for big time movie makers, not that exploitation films ever had large budgets or were ever Hollywood blockbusters. Based on the general reception of Machete, there is a reason for that. Most viewers have never even heard of exploitation cinema, and some that do still do not understand their appeal. With the current over saturation of gore, people today, are in fact, desensitized to shock, unlike the original viewers of 70’s exploitation. We have seen people’s heads get chopped off, threesomes in pools, priests using cuss words, and impossibly hilarious escapes. But unlike other modern films that use those same ploys to shock the audience, Machete does it dirty and blunt, without apology.
Yes, this movie is cheesy, its hammy and its all kinds of bad. The characters have silly dialogue, and they say a lot of silly one liners (Machete improvise)(You just fucked with the wrong Mexican). The accents are bad, and the wardrobe isn’t much better. The special effects were obvious and the continuity was terrible. The constant references to old movies push the fact that Machete is an homage, and it even includes a Wilhelm scream. It is obvious that the movie is self-aware right off the starting credits using dirt and scratch filters and having wavering audio to mimic the appearance of old roughed up 35mm film. At times, Machete is difficult to watch as the pace suddenly slows down a crawl. Surprising many viewers, the movie was not actually action and sex for the entire 105 minutes. Again, all you have to do is watch the movies that Machete is paying homage to in order to see that this too, was completely intentional. Machete was trying to make a political statement about immigration because that is a topic that is socially current. But the point of the statement was to draw attention to social views and stereotypes through absurdity.
My largest complaint of Machete is that there simply is not enough sex in it. The sex scenes were only implied throughout the movie, which was actually a little disappointing. The most graphic scene being Machete in the pool with the mother and daughter. At least during the pool scene we do get to see tits (albeit not Lindsay Lohan’s who plays the role of the daughter, as the tits cut is actually from the original Machete trailer), and the musical score is the perfect kind of cheese. But Machete had no raunchy fucking, no sensual loving making to classic porn music, and no disturbing rape scenes. I actually can’t recall if you do get to see any bush in the movie, but this probably means that there was none. I think that the addition of more sex would put the movie over the top to the point that many people would be unable to sit through it. I want to see people walking out of an homage to exploitation in theatres, I want them to write long complaining reviews online. I want feminists to be outraged.
One of the most humorous complaints that I’ve heard about Machete is that the movie is racist. No, not against Mexicans, but against white people. People complain that movie shows (white) Americans to be hateful, overly racist, okay with killing pregnant women for fun, and of course, wanting to have sex with their own daughters. Now, why I find this so hilarious is that even a brief look through cinematic history (and I mean through any and all genres) shows that minorities and the “other” are negatively stereotyped and degraded over and over and over again. However, this is still ignoring the fact that this movie is meant to be outrageous and insulting, and the movie never actually implies that even most (white) Americans act or think this way. If anything, it only implies that most (white) voting Americans are actually stupid to be fear mongered into electing such an outrageous politician.
Exploitation films are supposed to be in your face. They want to get a reaction from you. So if you watched this film, and absolutely hated it, for the political message it was sending, the racial stereotypes used, or the juxtaposition of slow-moving plot lines with fast-moving action, congratulations because this means that Machete did exactly what it wanted to do. Machete is certainly a niche film that viewers will either love or hate, and that is how it should be.
I wrote this in a period of an hour an a half. I didn’t proof read it. So if the grammar is fucking bad or I missed a word here or there, tough shit sugar pie.