When the Grindhouse double feature of Planet Terror and Death Proof was released to cinemas in 2007 it contained several "fake" trailers, one of which was for a film called Machete. So well received was that trailer that Robert Rodriguez decided to make a full-length feature film with Machete released in 2011 - a cracking intentionally B-Grade film that was a complete riot. Following the success of that film a sequel titled Machete Kills was green lit and here we are.
Machete Kills starts out with a bit of a surprise opening sequence - surprise in that someone gets killed off that will be bitterly disappointing to many but that's the least of the issues. While the original film was fun, fresh, surprising and raw, this sequel seems to dial it in. It's predictable, a bit stupid and lack the spark we expect from a Rodriguez film (he did write the film, directed it, was producer, was cinematographer and editor on this film). The storyline is generic and could be taken from any episode of Get Smart or Mission Impossible albeit with a lot more sexy ladies, violence and gore. There are though some pretty amusing moments not least of which is a fantastic sex scene which is obscured by, well, we won't spoil it but you'll get a good laugh.
Of course one can't talk about this film without discussion about Danny Trejo. He is Machete. At one point Charlie Sheen says to Machete "You know Mexico, hell, you are Mexico" and that applies to Danny Trejo too, he IS Machete. No one else has the hardness, the balls, the look or the take-no-shit attitude to play the role.
Michelle Rodriguez seems to have the most fun in this film and plays up the role of Luz perfectly while Mexican actor Demian Bichir (The Hear, Che) is superb as the bad guy Mendez. In fact, he was probably the most interesting character in the film. But that's not all as this film includes a massively long cast including Amber Heard, Sofia Vergara, Charlie Sheen (credited as Carlos Estevez), Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, Walton Goggins, Cuba Gooding Jr., Vanessa Hudgens and Tom Savini playing a variety of roles, or in the case of some actors one role as El Camaleón.
Despite the issues with this film, and the poor box office, I sincerely hope that the all-star cast helps the film find an audience on DVD/Blu-Ray so we can see the third film Machete Kills Again... In Space. The teaser trailer is akin to the whacky turn that Saints Row 4 took in that video game franchise - just plain out crazy unrealistic shit that has to be fun.
When Tarantino and Rodriguez started making these "Grindhouse" films the intention was to make them look cheap, damaged, scratched and generally deliberately degraded. Indeed when this film starts there is a mock trailer which does exhibit all those qualities however the main feature film is as clean as a whistle and looks every bit as pristine as a modern feature film (except for the intentionally poor CG and model work). In fact we would go so far to say that, like so many release on Blu-Ray, the video quality on this disc is reference quality.
The film is presented in the film’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and has been encoded with the AVC MPEG-4 codec. Our PS3 registered a bit rate over 40Mbps at times so it's clear this film has been given as much room to breathe as possible thus providing one of the best looking images we've seen to date.
As with the vast majority of Blu-Ray releases the audio is presented with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (16-bit/48Khz). That English track is the only one on the disc, but it does a pretty good job to convey the often frantic action in the film and provides a clarity to the effects and dialogue - including Danny Trejo's often gravely/grumbly voice. Sure, there are better and more lively surround sound audio tracks, and the lack of 24-bit audio disappoints very slightly (most people will never pick up the difference).
There are no other audio tracks on this disc and only a single English track which is will get the job done if you have a need for subtitles.
Sadly unlike the American release through Universal Pictures which contains about 20 minutes of Deleted and Extended Scenes and a 20 minute Making of Documentary, the Australian release is devoid of any extras.
Review By: Dave Warner