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Have Machete, Will Travel

The year's best Mexploitation flick explodes onscreen

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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.

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