In his first starring role, veteran character actor Danny Trejo earns his place among the hallowed hall of action heroes as he slices and dices his way through a series of bad guys, led by none other than Steven Seagal. Trejo (whose quarter-century career includes everything from Maniac Cop 2
to voiceover work in one of the Grand Theft Auto games) plays Machete, a former Mexican police officer who turns vigilante against the men who left him for dead. There are hints of racial politics and some social commentary in Machete
, but what you’re really going for are the action-packed fight scenes, fiery explosions, multiple dismemberments, and gratuitous nudity. In short, everything you could possibly want from an ultra-violent Mexploitation flick. Co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis capture the spirit of ’70s drive-in movies without slipping into kitschy parody or empty tribute. Rodriguez’ previous old-school exploitation outing, Planet Terror
, was enjoyable, but he tried too hard at times. Machete
is more like the real thing: a genuinely entertaining low-budget movie made by talented filmmakers who nail the genre’s sense of violent fun.