"Machete" carves up bloody, hilarious fun

Machete (2010)
105 min., rated R.

Spinning off his brilliant mock trailer (“They just fucked with the wrong Mexican!”) created for 2007 double-feature schlock-palooza "Grindhouse," Robert Rodriguez mans his feature-length "Machete" with cousin Alvaro Maniquis. Machete (pronounced “ma-chet-ay”) is like the real grindhouse pulp he parodied, but done with such infectious spirit and loving skill that it's witty, gleefully violent, knowingly tawdry fun. 

Danny Trejo, the go-to Mexican, has such a craggy, scarred, hard-living face like Mickey Rourke and unsmiling gusto (“Machete don't text”) as the machete-wielding Machete that he makes badassery awesome. Three years ago, Machete was a federale that watched his wife get slaughtered by a Mexican kingpin (Steven Seagal with, yes, a Mexican accent and an Eddie Munster haircut). Now, he works as a day laborer on the Texan border, and hired by a shady political aide (Jeff Fahey) to assassinate a U.S. Senator (an amusingly hammy Robert De Niro), who's advocating against Mexican immigrants, but he's set up as a patsy, naturally. Being the warrior that he is, Machete goes on a rampage, with the help from a sexy immigration officer (Jessica Alba, who still can't act her out way out of a wet paper bag) and a taco-stand-vendor-by-day and underground revolutionary leader known as 'She' (Michelle Rodriguez who's getting better at lessening the scowling). 

Two-man-show Rodriguez and Maniquis go hog-wild with "Machete," exploding with blood splatter, explosions, gratuitous boob-baring, cheesy '70s music, and a gritty drive-in look not as ultra-aged as its trailer predecessor. Plus you've never seen the uproariously over-the-top way a man's intestine can be used until here. Everyone in the great, eclectic cast is placed to perfection, including re-introduced Don Johnson as a border vigilante, pre-slammer Lindsay Lohan as Fahey's drugged-up web-porn daughter who gets to don a nun's habit (how's that for typecasting?), and Cheech Marin who's a real hoot as Machete's gun-toting padre partner. 

"Machete" may be too much for one B movie, the political message is ham-fisted, and it all starts to wear itself out before the grande showdown. But although not suited for the easily offended or the humorless, if you're up for a cartoonishly bloody exploitation throwback such as this, you won't be able to resist a sense of giddiness when the kitschy final graphics come up and we're promised coming attractions: "Machete Kills" and "Machete Kills Again!" 

Grade: B +