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MACHETE KILLS

SYNOPSIS:
In the South West Wing, US President Rathcock (Carlos Estavez) recruits Machete (Danny Trejo) to battle his way through Mexico in order to take down the multi-sided madman Mendez (Demien Bichir) who plans to launch a unique bomb made by the Voc Tec Corp, run by Voz (Mel Gibson) aimed at the White House.

Review by Louise Keller:
Exploitation doesn't get badder than this: Robert Rodriguez' blood splattered sequel is laced with deadly bravado, flying body parts, scantily dressed babes and belly laughs. It's cheeky, fresh, bloody and outrageous. Front and centre is Danny Trejo as tough guy Machete, whose name reveals his weapon of choice and face with deep lines and pock-marks show evidence of life's battle-scars. Rodriguez has great fun with this follow up to his 2010 film and so do we: amid the over-the-top characters, top drawer cast, big scale plot and comic-book blood splatter with humorous overtones.

Described as an 'over achiever' when it comes to killing people, Machete switches sides, following a shock violent opening segment on the Arizona and Mexican border in which Machete faces off with crooked military, a cartel gang and a fleet of unknowns who theatrically parachute from helicopters above.

Everyone will appreciate the joke to see Charlie Sheen as the President of the United States who recruits Machete to find Mendez the Madman (brilliantly played by Demian Bichir) and a deadly missile. Bichir is a riot - his Mendez will hug or kill, depending whether he is feeling like his revolutionary self or his mad alter-ego. The fact that he remotely wires the missile to his heart is fuel for a major plot point and the line 'have a heart' takes on a whole new meaning by the end of the film.

The mission becomes complicated with the help of a string of colourful characters like Desdemona (Sofia Vergara), the man-eater bordello madam with D-cup machinegun attachments and male-inspired genital accessory for extra fire power. The bordello glam girls are decked in black leather, silver studs and thigh-high boots and reveal plenty of flesh. Cuba Gooding Jnr is memorable as the man with many faces, plus there is Jessica Alba, Lady Gaga and Antonio Banderas who each make their mark.

Amber Heard is a knockout as the pageant queen whose cleavage and hairspray are her cover and the scene in which she and Michelle Rodriguez go head to head in a catfight with one dressed to the nines (in sequins and tiara) and the other dressed to kill (in funky black) does not disappoint. The decision to cast Mel Gibson as the billionaire arms dealer with a crazy streak is inspired and by the time we meet him as the merchant of death with an assembly line, the story arc is in crescendo and the action is in full swing.

Trejo says little - his actions speak much louder and although he says he still 'doesn't text', he makes an exception. Blood spurts, heads roll and body parts fly high and low. There are weapons of all sorts including guns, knives, a deadly molecule blaster, genetically engineered super soldiers and machetes for all occasions, including the Swiss army version and one with high-tech capabilities. The law and justice is not always the same thing - and Rodriguez makes every moment count.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
When Machete (Danny Trujo) surprises Voz (Mel Gibson) in one scene, by not behaving as the forward seeing Voz expects, Machete quips dryly, "Machete happens". It's that kind of movie. Anything goes that entertains the audience. Robert Rodriguez recruited Danny Trujo as a Mexican anti-hero and is using the character to go further and further to left field. Indeed, Machete Kills begins with a cheesy trailer for the next sequel, Machete Kills - In Space.

Over the top is an understatement for this sometimes hilarious sometimes silly escapade, whose story is simply a skeleton for a lot of exploitation action, ranging from bikini-clad women with guns, to goons with guns and the fate of the free world at stake.

Although Rodriguez - who controls every element - wants to jive us, he manages to keep the tone sufficiently in check to ensure some tension. Much of that is thanks to Trujo's stonefaced performance; he speaks little, a bit like early Arnie, and what he says is curt, dry and macho-comic. His face, like a rubble strewn Cairo street, helps.

The women are sensational - both to look at and as characters firmly in the embrace of the genre, spitting epithets, fighting and bitch-slapping their way through a rigorous set of scenes. Amber Heard is a gorgeous but deadly blonde Miss San Antonio, in contrast to Michelle Rodriguez' dark angel of death, Luz, while Sofia Vergara as Desdemona is a dynamic, man hating brothel madam. She gets to wear Double Ds which double as a mini machine gun, and she also resorts to her unique metal strap-on, a gun barrell with two revolver chambers. Penis envy reversed, perhaps?

The body count is high, but the violence has a comic strip quality to it - indeed, the whole film feels as though it's been lifted from the pages and animated, with sound. Rodriguez doesn't hold back with the concept, filling its crazy cup to the brim. It may drag a bit here and there, but not for long.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

MACHETE KILLS (MA15+)
(US, 2013)

CAST: Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Mel Gibson, Alexa Vega, Amber Heard, Vanessa Hudgens, Sofia Vergara, Demian Bichir, Lady Gaga, Charlie Sheen, Antonio Banderas, Cuba Gooding Jr, Edward James Olmos

PRODUCER: Sergei Bespalov, Aaron Kaufman, Iliana Nicolic, Alexander Rodnyansky, Robert Rodriguez, Rick Schwartz

DIRECTOR: Robert Rodriguez

SCRIPT: Kyle Ward (story by Robert Rodriguez, Marcel Rodriguez)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Rodriguez

EDITOR: Robert Rodriguez

MUSIC: Carl Thiel

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Steve Joyner

RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 24, 2013







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