At one point in director Robert Rodriquez’s film Machete, the blade-wielding vigilante (Danny Trejo) sends a text to the bad guy: “You just f---ed with the wrong Mexican.”
In reality, you could say that when legislators enacted stricter immigration laws in places like Texas and Arizona, they f---ed with the wrong director.
Machete was born as a fake trailer in Grindhouse (2007), a collaborative directorial and screenwriting effort of Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Expanded into a full-length feature with a cast including Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba and Steven Seagal, Machete explores the theme of justice. The unfairness of immigration laws runs as deeply through the film as Machete’s blade runs through the bad guys.
Trejo stars as the Mexican version of Charles Bronson: He’s rugged, he’s fearless and he fights for the little guy. He also gets the ladies.
Michelle Rodriguez plays the head of an underground railroad for illegals. She pretends to sell tacos out of a truck, but she’s really a gun-toting hero to Mexicans who are trying to cross the border for a better life.
Sure, it’s a cheap, B-movie that relies on naked women (including Lindsay Lohan) and skull-cracking fistfights to entertain macho audiences and maintain the director’s filmic style. Ultimately, however, Machete asks, “What would America look like without illegal immigrants?” Pretty crappy, according to Rodriguez. Much of the movie examines the work that Mexicans are willing to do: cleaning septic tanks, gardening, roofing.
But besides all the crap jobs, in Machete, some Mexicans are willing to kill. And kill they do.
Machete is bloody as hell, uses intestines in a way never seen before in cinema and has plenty of be-headings. Bombs go off a lot. There’s even a machine gun that gets attached to a motorcycle.
So go for the gore, but be prepared to walk a way with a deeper sense of justice and respect for the role of immigrants. (Or not. Those fight scenes are pretty amazing.) (Rated R)