|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Monday, 10 January 2011|
Rodriguez has created everything from kids’ exploits such as the “Spy Kids” trilogy and “Shorts” to drug trafficking, shoot ‘em up independents and blockbusters such as “El Mariachi,” “Desperado,” “Once Upon A Time In Mexico” and “Sin City.” But when you hear a film title like “Machete,” there is really only one thing to discern from it, gore and lots of it.
Rodriguez doesn’t disappoint. “Machete” is filled to the hilt with decapitations, limb choppy, blood everywhere and nudity galore. However, somehow, it all works and provides a social commentary at the same time.
Danny Trejo has been in nearly every one of Rodriguez’s films, whether it be “Desperado” or “Spy Kids.” Now he gets one of his first principal character films. And this film certainly fits are a continuation of the “Desperado.” Trejo is a machete wielding, out for justice, badass. However, like all the characters in the film, has a flip side, sensitivity. There are a lot of elements that make this film work, but dual-sided, character creations is one of the greatest. It distracts you form all the gore and gets you involved with the story.
Trejo portrays an ex-Federale, who has had his family taken from him by an outrageously bad druglord of Mexico, Torrez, portrayed by an oddly fitting Steven Seagal. After surviving Torrez’s attempt to kill him, Machete finds himself across the border in Texas, trying to work as an illegal day laborer.
Machete is hired by Booth (Fahey), an assistant for Senator McLaughlin (De Niro), to assassinate the senator. McLaughlin is an ultra-conservative politician that stakes his re-election campaign on building an electrified border control fence. Machete is used as a pawn to further enhance the anti-immigrant mentality in Texas. The connections between all of the characters are tremendous and would take me a long while to tie it all together. However, when you watch the film is all becomes crystal clear.
Jessica Alba, Sartana, is an immigrations officer who is trying to track down Shé, the leader of the immigrant network. Michelle Rodriguez, Luz, is thought to be Shé, running a taco stand to help the day laborers. Lindsay Lohan has a small role, but fits quite nicely into the overall scheme of things. Machete, Sartana and Luz must team up to help fight injustice and the vigilantes who are terrorizing the border control. They enlist the help of every gardener and dishwasher they have in their network.
“Machete” is a satire and serious all at the same time. You never know whether the next sequence is going to emotional, funny or gory. And that is what makes this film so interesting to watch. For those that have a very low tolerance or threshold for gore will just have ti skip this film as swinging down the side of a building using some guy’s intestines will likely be a bit too much. However, for those that can look past the gore, and it is difficult in some cases, will find this film to be titillating and humorous.
Rodriguez has always been known for his visual filmmaking style. This Blu-ray presentation helps present that style in the best way possible. The opening to the film is full of intentional film print scratches and dirt. Don’t worry, the entire film isn’t like that. When the film gets going, the image clears up and becomes one of the best video transfers of the year. The colors are fantastic with excellent hues. The image is bathed in a sun and warm contrast. The saturation remains under control, never blooming. The primary colors are all beautifully rendered. The black levels supplements all the imagery, but does take a hit in some of the more dimly lit sequences. The details are exceptional. Trejo is shown in full HD with every facial characteristic perfectly rendered. Costumes have terrific texture. This video transfer is warm and lush and perfect for the piece. If you are going to watch this film, you must watch it on Blu-ray.
The audio quality is another terrific aspect of the disc and film. There is a lot of room for improvement, but it stands among the best sound design films by Rodriguez. The surround channels are packed with punches, explosions, gunfire and machete chopping action. Where the surround channels lack is in ambience. Still, the action sequences are quite immersive. Directionality is a bit spotty. There are instances in which the sound effects in the rear channels are detailed and clear, and then there are other moments in the which there is a just a smattering of noise in the rear soundfield. Dialogue is perfectly rendered. As to be expected the dialogue has weight to it to convey the shear awesomeness of Machete. All the voices have substantial power behind them. The LFE channel gets plenty of use here. While it is not as solid and consistent as it could have been, it does spread throughout the room. Note, the disc also comes with a interesting virtual theater audio track. Unfortunately, it is not in a lossless audio format. But the idea behind the track is to recreate the experience of watching the film in a theater. There is hootin and hollerin and other audience noises. Definitely would recommend checking out that track.
Unfortunately, the one pitfall to this release is the supplemental package. Aside from the audience reaction track, there is about 10 minutes of deleted footage that are actually worth a look. For some reason one of the deleted scenes is only available via BD-Live. The only other feature is some trailers. There is a second disc in the package that functions as a Digital Copy.
“Machete” is certainly not for everyone. I was a bit worried when the film first opened, but eventually the satire sinks in and it becomes an enjoyable experience. The audio and video qualities are substantial and worth the price of the Blu-ray. According to the end credits there is the possibility of two sequels “Machete Kills” and “Machete Kills Again.” However, I was unable to determine if this was just a joke. I highly recommend taking a look at this title if you can stomach the genre.