I don’t do script reviews very often, partly because I don’t usually want to read the scripts before they’re movies. But somebody sent me Robert Rodriguez’s script for MACHETE and at the time I wasn’t sure I believed it would actually be made, so I couldn’t resist taking a look.
And then it gets messy. You know I tried out Twitter, and I don’t think it’s really for me. Here I’m testing out another technology the kids use today, the video. They got it on all the websights, etc. Anyway that’s why I haven’t had many reviews lately, I was working on this thing. So please watch and let me know what you think.
UPDATE: For those who complained that they can’t understand what the hell the robot is talking about you can click through for the text version. This is what I wrote down, I ended up cutting some of it out for the video, and the beginning part was purposely boring so I could fast forward through it. Also some if it might be spelled phonetically.
MACHETE script review
Welcome to Vern’s review of the script for Machete, brought to you by the all new outlawvern dot com. This is a video because who the fuck wants to read. that’s bullshit. This is 2009.
When Danny Trejo first worked for Robert Rodriguez in 1995, it could’ve been just like any of his other bit parts in movies like Marked For Death or Penitentiary 3. He was memorable in Desperado as a knife-throwing assassin, but that’s sort of what he does, that could’ve been the end of it. Fortunately Rodriguez must have an appreciation for grizzled mugs because he turned Trejo into one of his regulars, putting him in From Dusk Till Dawn and its DTV sequels, in Spy Kids, Spy Kids 2, Spy Kids 3, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico.
But legend has it that Rodriguez didn’t just want to give Trejo cameos and bit parts. From day 1 he wanted to make Trejo a badass cinema leading man like his Death Wish 4: The Crackdown co-star Charles Bronson. Navajas, the Desperado knife thrower, evolved into the idea of the ex-feduhralley asskicker Machete, but between all those kiddie movies the idea never really got off the ground. So when Rodriguez and Tarantino got together to make Grindhouse, and they needed some fake trailers, Rodriguez called up Trejo and MACHETE was born. As a fake movie that lives only in our dreams.
Ever since then Trejo and Rodriguez have teased the possibility of a real MACHETE movie. On one hand, it should be easy. They claim to already have half an hour shot from when they did the trailer, and Rodriguez made his name shooting no-budget, short schedule movies. We know for a fact this guy could take a week off from pretending he’s making SIN CITY 2 and make a good MACHETE movie. On the other hand, he keeps getting attached to other project after other project. Since Grindhouse he’s been supposedly gonna do Sin City 2, Sin City 3, The Jetsons, Barbarella, Conan, Red Sonja, probly Spy Kids 4 and a Sharkboy and Lava Girl prequel trilogy. He did one called Shorts, and announced some sci-fi movie. The guy is busy.
Add to that the fact that Grindhouse itself was a huge box office disappointment, and that the Weinsteins are amoral, incompetent asswipes who have failed at everything they’ve done since leaving Miramax other than getting a shitty movie about an illiterate nazi fucking a kid nominated for best picture. Machete seems promising, so if the Weinsteins ever greenlight it we should assume they’ll put it on the shelf for ten years, then release it dubbed and re-edited under the title “KNIFE WARRIORS” with a new soundtrack by Warren G.
That is the reality we, as people who want to see Machete, must face every day. So I had given up on there ever being a real Machete movie, and so had you. But then some guy sent me the script and claimed it’s about to be made. I got no idea if he’s right or not but this sure seems like the script so why the fuck not review it. ON VIDEO. because that’s how you review scripts now, it is a video, that is the technology they use.
The script I read is dated February 2009, so it looks like they’re really still trying to do this. On page 1 there’s already a character named Torrez yelling over a radio, “Machete, you son of a bitch! I told you to wait! Set up a perimeter and wait for further orders. You hear me, Pendejo!?”
So I knew this was the type of movie I’m into.
The plot is the same as the trailer. Machete is an ex-federale undocumented worker hired by a sleazy white dude (Jeff Fahey) to assassinate a right wing senator. But it’s a set up, another sniper tries to kill Machete so he has to get away and kill everybody. Usually in a story like this you also gotta prove your innocence, but Machete is NOT innocent. So he doesn’t have to bother with that.
Machete’s psychological profile describes him as having “Old Testament-style concepts of vengeance,” and he spends the movie demonstrating those concepts. And he can take it as well as he can dish it out. He has an old bullet in his skull. When he gets new wounds he has a new spin on the old home-surgery scene where he uses an Ancient Aztec technique involving onions. He says he was “born in the fire.” But he’s not just going around chopping people up like Jason, the script finds many absurd types of action. There’s a machete vs. sword duel, some souped up “road warrior cars,” a gun that fires machetes, a dog that stabs people.
The script is lookin good. This is a good recipe, now they gotta cook it well. I’ve been told it has a ten million dollar budget, which might be too much. But if Rodriguez goes out there and shoots it Mariachi style it could turn out great. Let’s keep the digital shit to a minimum and the real stunts to a maximum. If it’s executed properly it’s got pleny of things you want in a movie like this: knifings, explosions, decapitation, dismemberment, crucifixion, dog fights. There’s also a bunch of sex scenes. Women love Machete like he’s Shaft or James Bond. It is definitely not an enlightened view of women, although Rodriguez puts some Jack Hill style feminism in there by having not one but two asskicking women. But they are the type of asskickers who sometimes wear what the script calls “hot cop lingerie.”
I’m a little concerned that the female lead, Homeland Security officer Elektra Rivers, has a twin sister who she always calls “bitch” and “slut.” That might mean Rodriguez wants to cast The Crazy Babysitter Twins, which would mean shooting his own niece in bed with Danny Trejo. Kinda creepy. Oh well, Dario Argento has done worse.
This is a weird thing because it’s a movie based on a non-existent movie. So it’s in quotation marks, or it’s meta or postmodern ironical or some shit. But I don’t think it should be a joke or a parody, it should be Rodriguez really trying to make an awesome Danny Trejo action vehicle. I hope he makes it with a straight face, a little more Desperado than Planet Terror, but the script does get jokey a few times. There’s an admittedly hilarious childhood flashback scene where young Machete, wearing Zorro pajamas, has his treehouse surrounded by a SWAT team. It will get a big laugh but I wish Rodriguez was disciplined enough to leave those type of jokes out. I don’t need no SPY KIDS shit in my Charles Bronson movie. But oh well, it’s what he wants to do and I think people will like it.
By the way, Machete is portrayed as a mythical protector of illegal immigrants. I hope somebody on Fox News gets riled up about that. This whole thing where we laugh every time they say “teabagging” can’t last forever, they’re gonna need some new material. If Machete’s immigration policy offends you I encourage you to still enjoy the movie the same way we liberals did RED DAWN in the ’80s. We knew it was some crazy shit but it was still a funny movie.
I believe Rodriguez said MACHETE would be a “mexploitation movie,” and that’s the perfect description of this thing. It’s loaded with all the stereotypes and cliches associated with Latinos in the United States, but sort of reclaims them. There’s an arms dealer who works out of a taco truck. The villains are the advisor to a right wing anti-immigration senator and the Minnitmen who follow him. Machete can disguise himself as a janitor, he leads an army of other undocumented workers, who hide weapons in their mops and garden tools. So it’s got a good class theme going too. Of course they gotta get some Catholicism in there too so they have a church and a Padre, I’m guessing still played by Cheech Marin as in the trailer. He gets to blow some motherfuckers away and in my opinion is not one of the more ethical padres.
Anyway, I hope they really are making this thing, because the world needs Danny Trejo vehicles and, more broadly, it needs this type of ’80s Craig Baxley approach to action. Not everything needs to be Jason Bourne. Sometimes you need one where the hero chops off body parts from inside a moving vehicle. Sometimes you need Machete.
you know what, this probly woulda been easier if I just wrote it all down, not sure what’s up with this video review deal
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.