Sunday, 26 September 2010

Danny Trejo Is ... Machete


‘‘God has mercy, I don’t’’

Holy F***king sweet ass snorting nose candy cinema. Sell your sisters chastity and prepare to wet wipe as Robert Rodriguez pump actions out a contemporary Grind House great. A seminal flagellation of film that constantly pops you in the eye, and deep throat chokes you harder than Linda Lovelace poetry. This mighty mutha gargles on its own gag reflex before expunging its wonderful excesses up upon the screen, like a celluloid seraphim dancing its heavenly decadence across your retinas, with stilettos dipped in liquid ephemeral, deftly delivering its corporeal viewing high.

Political correctness hitches the same ride down the can that Robert De Niro deposits his dignity, with a sanguine sphincter suppository that leaves its mark splattered upon the windscreen of the world. Goggle up and gaggle down on this rampant rollercoaster of bad assed goodness, hard rated ‘RR’ for Rodriguez Rules !.

Danny Trejo stars in the lead role he was born to play as the Mexican one man militia, Machete. A former border police officer living day to day on the fringe of society, mixing it with the regular Joe’s, all the while searching out an opportunity to avenge the brutal murder of his wife at the hands of super bad guy kingpin Torrez. This is no ordinary kingpin mind you, its freakin’ Steven Seagal, back on the big screen for the first time in eons and strutting his man mass like a pimp-tastic pro. He’s picked the wrong guy to piss off though in Machete, his name is his calling card and his trade is taking out the human trash.

Machete’s path of destiny crosses with that of Torrez when Jeff Fahey’s bent businessman Booth hires him as a shooter to kill Robert De Niro’s corrupt senator McLaughlin. All is not as straightforward in picking up a $150,000 cash payment as job done for Machete however, and the die is set for one of the most awesome casts ever pulled together in a mainstream ‘B’ movie to tear up the screen like never before.

Everyone literally bleeds for Director Rodriguez as Machete trail blazes a path of wanton violent vengeance, in a ferocious frenzy of delirious bodily dismemberment and outlandishly over the top explosive Action.

Rodriguez amply trades up from his earlier screen successes El Mariachi (1992) Desperado (1995), and imbues the Grind House grunt film style, resurrected in Planet Terror (2007), to expand upon his then faux trailer for Machete, in bringing his creation to life. Audaciously he brings the delectable Miss. Jessica Alba out of her regular comfort zone, into a world where she digs in her heels and struts her fine form as a sexy immigration officer. Blessed with a bodilicious form and those luscious lips she carves out a performance that cuts the cutesy for ballsy, yet still manages to lift more than Machetes spirit when called upon.

The babe juice free flows from the fountain of this Grind House goodness, and none more so than the man neutering naughty that is Michelle Rodriguez, co-starring as Luz who shines like a beacon of justness for the Mexican people, standing upright as the urban legend, She. Embroiled in the fight against senator McLaughlin and his lackeys, including a finely grizzled embodiment of bigotry from Don Johnson as Lt. Von Jackson, Luz gets to give a fan favoured wink to the dispenser of due justice from They Call Her One Eye (1974). The movie is in no way devoid of dark, wry humour either as a binge drinking, drug taking internet fame seeking daddy’s girl April, is poignantly played by a vapid Lindsay Lohan, who comes to life when she finds faith and fights for the lord in the guise of a gun totting nun. Inspired most likely by another Grind House classic, Angel Of Vengeance (1981).

Fans of the Grind House style and followers of Blaxploitation, Nunsploitation, Filipino flambé and Mexican mishmash movie mayhem rejoice, as the nachos are crisped to perfection, and Robert Rodriguez lavishes upon them a red pepper relish to die for.

Danny Trejo is in supreme form as Machete, and he dishes payback out with a hand held holocaust of brutality that cuts to the quick. Limbs are lopped and heads are severed with regular abandonment to any censorship concerns, and a hell yea thank you Lord, care of a cult cameo by Cheech Marin as a padre with a weapons cadre, in a church where the pews become bathed in the blood of all anti acolytes. Confess to Cheech and you can’t go Chong !.

Machete cuts a scintillating swathe from its blood drenched opening to its Action packed round house battle royal finale. Trejo’s machete versus Seagal’s katana comes to be, and the bodacious babes get to bang down the remaining bad boys in a galvanised gauntlet of ball breaking brutality. It’s a groovy grind to put smiles on faces and bums in seats, as Machete leaves its memorable mark.

A mighty Mexican wave of appreciation to Robert Rodriquez, Danny Trejo and all involved, and here’s hoping that Machete does indeed return in sequel form sometime soon.

Movie Rating: 8/10

Review Paul Cooke / Source Cinema

Machete (2010)

Director Robert Rodriguez
With Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez,
Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, Tom Savini,
Lindsay Lohan, Robert De Niro & Steven Seagal

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Collectors Item

The Collector

‘‘He collects people !’’

A professional burglar, desperately trying to start a new life for himself, has to trade tricks for a past underground criminal fixer in order to help his estranged wife and daughter. The mother of his sweet young child owes money to a loan shark, and the debt is about to be called in, one way or another. In order to spare them from harm, Arkin must undertake a big paying job to settle his wife’s debt. Working as a repair man at a large family home, he has cased the property, and knows that the owner has a large gemstone of some value locked within his safe.

Arkin’s last day on the job, along with a team of pest control exterminators, is also the day that the family are preparing to be away for a while. With his wife’s debt due to be called in Arkin has until midnight to revert back to his previous profession as a burglar, and purloin the precious gem in order to collect a forty percent cash reward, fencing it to his bullish fixer. A simple plan, simply executed for a highly skilled burglar not long out of the full time criminal game. That night, upon his return to what he believes is an empty house, is one that no one could ever prepare for … no one could … no one but ... The Collector !.

Hostel (2005) in a house is unleashed upon the home owner, his wife, teenage daughter and youngest daughter by a mysterious man. His face hidden behind a tight fitting mask, reminiscent of a Mexican wrestlers, hand tied and taught behind the skull. Whatever machinations are afoot are soon very apparent as Arkin is caught up in a myriad of deadly traps, designed not to keep intruders out, but victims inside !. The masked marauder is oblivious to his unseen nemesis, as he sets about torturing the occupants of the house, clearly stopped from going on their intended trip. What follows is a night of torture and quite gruesome flesh flailing. Not an iota of scene spoiling CGI fake blood is on display here, just free flowing icky ooziness of the el vino variety.
Arkin is caught between helping the family and saving his own life, as escaping from the trap laden home proves to be nigh on impossible. All manner of body puncturing implements lace the very fabric of the house interior, from floor to ceiling. Fine wire intricately threads between a door frame, virtually unnoticeable in the dark environment, upturned nails line the steps upon the hallway stairs, set bear traps adorn the living room floor, razor blades imbed the boarded up windows, as painfully discovered early on by Arkin as he attempts to flee with the valuable item he came for. A clue to this pernicious perpetrators ideology is uncovered in the closet of the master bedroom, where Arkin seeks momentary refuge, as a large hinged box reveals its contents of a bloodied and beaten man. The petrified man is barely conscious or legible, but he warns that the intruder is a collector … of people !?.

Arkin cannot allow the man to be free of his confine for fear of alerting the intruder of his own presence, and so seals him back within the box’s containment. With the cries of pain, and the screams of terror, from the owners of the house ringing out through the connecting cavity vents, Arkin asses his position and looks for a way to help them, and find a way out !. The inventiveness of the intruders cruelty takes no prisoners as the family pet cat discovers to its pitiful demise. An upstairs bedroom floor layered with a caustic glue substance eats away at the hapless creatures fur, burning its way into its skin. The pussy cats ultimate end though comes when Arkin desperately strives to free it from its undoubted death knell, only to propel the startled animal into a window that is booby trapped as a guillotine. Animal welfare activists will doubtlessly re-watch this scene over and over again and seek proof positive that no actual harm came to this poor unfortunate cat, as the degree of realism here is pretty darned startling !.

The torrent of nastiness continues unabated as the teenage daughter returns home with lustful boyfriend, who is soon introduced to the intruder and says hello to his little friends the bear traps !. One minute the boyfriend is fondling his girls ample breasts, and the next he snaffled himself by bone snapping implements even more highly sensitive to touch. This is indeed grisly stuff !.

Arkin is desperate to save at least the young girl of the family, having witnessed the demise of the others, and somehow catch the intruder up within one of his own traps. It’s cat and mouse as the intruder is now fully aware of his unexpected competitor, and the knives are out, literally !.

To pull off a ninety minute violent thriller with the construct of a fairly basic premise with such extraordinary aplomb here is incredible. The pace of the movie never flounders, and the motif behind the masked intruders maniacal onslaught is intriguingly withheld right up to the cataclysmic conclusion. A modern incarnation of a new movie ‘monster’ is perhaps born with The Collector. A nigh on unstoppable force of evil intent, yet certainly not super human, but with an agenda that is tantalisingly linked only by his calling card of a person held within a restraining box.
The Collector is a brutal barrage to the senses, yet invasively hypnotic as its carnage spews out the intent to shock but also to intrigue. You, like Arkin want, nay need, to know who this guy is, and why he is doing what he does. Is he a cold hearted evil psychopath, or an exacting architect of retribution !?. There are questions to be answered come closure, not that the viewer is left deflated in any way at all, indeed there is but anticipation of a continuation to this story, as The Collector closes another of his containment boxes shut upon its occupant !.

Movie Rating: 7/10

Review Paul Cooke / Source Region 1 NTSC DVD

The Collector (2009)
Director Marcus Dunstan
With Josh Stewart, Juan Fernández, Madeline Zima,
Andrea Roth & Robert Wisdom

Sunday, 5 September 2010

All a' 'Bored' The Road Train

Road Kill
aka Road Train

‘‘You didn’t take the truck, the truck took you’’
Road rage possession where any body is an accident waiting to happen, and a spare part in this movie pretty much means just that !.

Four twenty something friends start out on their annual vacation of self discovery together. This time it’s a tense affair as of the two guys, both have slept with the same girl in the group and emotions are bubbling. The new girl in the group is oblivious to the tainted love triangle and just wants to fit in and have a good time. The journey ahead may have thrown them together, but in the end it tears them all apart.
The basic plot is that of man versus machine with an eerie overture as a strongly implied supernatural force embodies the main villain of the piece, a rampaging road rampart of metal, forged as a long distance road truck. Tumultuously terrorising the Australian terrain, in an ongoing forward motion of mass machination against man. Twenty two wheels of grinding terror bearing down upon all that flail before its wanton wake.

Like a condensed take on Duel (1971) this colossus of the highway appears quickly from out of the distance into the rear view mirror of the four companions, surprising them with brutish intent, and ultimately ramming them off the road. Their car careens into the desolate outback, flipping over and violently coming to a crushing conclusion. There is a long moment of stillness, until life emerges from the wreckage and the occupants emerge, mostly dazed and unnerved, but also to the realisation that one of the guys has a broken arm with a protruding bone. Off on the horizon the multi ton vehicle of mass destruction sits, like a preying mantis, waiting for its intended victim to make its next move before making its final strike. With limited supplies of food rations, and water between them, the shaken friends have no other choice but to approach the motor monolith face to face.
Having opened promisingly, albeit with many a formulaic premise, the rest of the movie literally goes off track and confuses its audience as to its intentions. A mess of almost hallucinogenic hokum transpires that has our protagonists battling against each other as they all fall under the hypnotic spell of the road train. Blood and bitching follows before the film makers seemingly remember that they need to explain what all the weirdness is about surrounding the vehicle spawned from hell !?.
The padlocked containers resting atop the mighty wheels of the juggernaut hide a horrendous revelation that explains why the terror truck never grinds to a halt, but just continues to grind right on along !. An engine with an appetite that even regular visits to the gas station cannot appease.
This road train is a ticket to terror with no refund, which for many unsuspecting patrons may prove to be one journey to the rental store too many !. There’s some nice moments of gore and the Australian scenery with its enraptured hot hue is always a bonus, but what is lacking here is a cohesive storyline and distinct lack of any real likeable character to at least cheer for. Road Kill is perhaps one extenuated Australian horror hybrid too many, and better taken outback and re-shot for its own good. When it comes down to it, its the story of a boy, a girl and a truck. Just not the ride you were anticipating.

Movie Rating: 4/10
Review Paul Cooke / Source PAL Region 2 DVD
Road Kill (2010)
Director Dean Francis
With Bob Morley, Sophie Lowe, Georgina Haig,
Xavier Samuel & David Argue