Back in Action

Machete's hero doesn't play by the rules, but the movie itself sure does

Violent action movies exist in a universe all their own. Whether it's a film starring Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, or Danny Trejo, certain rules must be obeyed. Even filmmakers as creative as Robert Rodriguez play by them. In Machete, Trejo stars as a gun-wielding badass out for revenge against the guys who left him for dead. It looks like a blast. It also looks like that violent-action-movie playbook was at Rodriguez's side the whole time.

It Doesn't Pay to Be Friends With the Hero

You'd think being tight with the good guy would widen your safety net. But hanging with him is, in fact, a guaranteed death sentence. Occasionally it's a wife or kid who gets killed, brutalized, or hooked on smack by the bad guys. It's never fair, but a loved one has to suffer before the hero deftly dishes out his own brand of vigilante justice.

Suiting Up

Every movie in the genre has to feature a scene where the protagonist gathers his weapons for combat. Each implement of death is lovingly eroticized as the arsenal is assembled. Under normal circumstances, an entire army would be required to carry all this heavy artillery, but the hero is such a badass, he can do it all by himself, with style to boot.

Evil Henchmen Really Need a Union

Villains always treat their minions like crap. One little mistake and you're dead — no written warning, no time off without pay. It's bad enough the good guy is killing off all the underlings. Why help him out? Morale has got to be low in a position like this. Plus, there's all that time and money spent training replacement henchmen. It's just not good business.

The Unlikely Love Interest

Action heroes don't have time for love — they're too busy kicking ass. Still, women always fall for them, despite the obvious risks. Often it's a kooky bystander who gets swept up. She doesn't trust — or even like — the guy at first, and he thinks she's a major nuisance. But after all the bombs have exploded and the bodies are counted, they will inevitably fall in love.

The Hero's Razor-Sharp Wit

No action hero is complete without a witty quip like "Remember, Sully, when I told you I'd kill you last? I lied" (Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando); "Looks like some garbage needs to be removed." (Robert Ginty in The Exterminator 2); and "Sleep tight, sucker" (Chuck Norris in The Delta Force). A funny line is as essential as a gun and nearly as lethal. Send feedback to [email protected].

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