Danny Trejo

Gina Carano and Amaury Nolasco in IN THE BLOOD

Gina Carano found success as an MMA fighter, but my aversion to sweaty acronyms meant I first learned of her existence in Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire. She plays a CIA (more my speed) agent framed by her own people, and the film is basically her kicking one Hollywood leading man’s ass after the next including Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, and Antonio Banderas. It’s a combination of star power and a very frequent use of Carano’s impressive fighting abilities that makes the film so fun, but more than that, those elements helped deflect attention away from the sloppy script and her poor acting. Fast forward three years later and she’s finally found a follow-up leading role, but oddly and unfortunately, In the Blood has very little clue what to do with her. Ava (Carano) and Derek (Cam Gigandet) are newlyweds on their honeymoon in the Caribbean, and while his father (Treat Williams) has made his disapproval and mistrust of Ava clear Derek has chosen love over his dad’s concerns and worries. A local offers to show the couple a good time at a nightclub, but trouble arises in the form of a gangster named Big Biz (Danny Trejo) who forces Ava’s violent hand (and other hand and feet) into dishing out bone-crunching moves on the dance floor. Ava and Derek try to put the experience behind them the next day with some zip-line action, but a fall leaves him badly injured. Even worse? The EMTs kidnap him. Now Ava’s on a […]

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Danny Trejo Sherrybaby

Our official review of Machete Kills is pretty negative. Rightfully so, it’s a major disappointment following the purposefully cheesy yet still politically relevant first film. This time it’s all just silly, kind of like an Austin Powers movie for the Latino audience instead of 13-year-old boys — though the 13-year-old boys may still be the best audience for this. I want to recommend it solely for Demian Bichir, though, because he is a pleasure to watch every second he’s on screen. Maybe it’s just how great he is relative to the rest of the cast and movie, but I’d give him another Oscar nomination for this. If you think that’s ridiculous, you haven’t seen the movie (because that is ridiculous). If you don’t see Machete Kills, no big deal, even if you won’t know what’s going on when Machete Kills Again… In Space arrives. This week’s gateway recommendations have nothing related to any spoilers in the movie. Most are just better films starring parts of the sequel’s ensemble. I also almost thought about including Star Wars, not because I think any of you haven’t seen it but because I think you’d want to clean yourself in the form of a re-watch after seeing all the bad references here. Seriously, even if we’d never had 35 years of parodies, copycats, fan films and other works derived from and informed by Star Wars, the allusions here would still feel stale. The following ten selections are worth checking out whether you bother with Machete […]

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Machete Kills

Editor’s note: Neil’s review of Machete Kills originally ran during this year’s Fantastic Fest, but we’re re-running it now as the film opens in theatrical release today. It feels like an odd tradition to have. Just about every other year, Fantastic Fest — the beloved pilgrimage of genre film fans to Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse — the opening night film is a complete dud. The first and most notable example of this came in 2009 when Gentlemen Broncos opened the festival, much to the confusion and displeasure of the always keen Fantastic Fest crowd. Following opening night, that year’s festival went on to produce memorable screenings of Antichrist, Fish Story, Zombieland, Gareth Evans’ debut Merantau and many others. It was a great year. The same came two years later when the festival opened with the overwhelmingly unlikable Human Centipede 2, only to yield the debuts of great flicks like You’re Next, Extraterrestrial, A Boy and His Samurai and the Oscar nominee Bullhead. It could be deduced, based on recent history, that the quality of the opening night film is inversely proportional to the quality of the rest of the Fantastic Fest line-up. With that in mind, 2013 has opened with Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills. By the logic expressed above, that means 2013 is on pace to be the best Fantastic Fest line-up yet.

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Evil Dead 2

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Machete Kills

Though there have been many trailers for Robert Rodriguez‘s Machete Kills leading up to its theatrical release next week, none are quite like this. The content is nothing new, but it’s framed in the most badass of fresh packages: in glorious, over-the-top, flaming 3D. You know the drill: Machete (Danny Trejo) has been hired by the President of the United States (Charlie Sheen/Carlos Estevez) to hunt down a madman in Mexico (Mel Gibson) who has plans to launch a missile into the White House. Along the way, he must band up with his fellow (sexy) assassins and do battle with countless (sexy) others. Blood, boobs, corny jokes, Lady Gaga(?), explosions, end film. But in 3D, Machete Kills is brand new again. Every slash of that machete, every explosion and splatter of gushing blood leaps off the trailer at you in a surprisingly seamless fashion. It’s as if all trailers are just like this, and hopefully they will be at some point. It’s just fun to watch. The brilliance of the 3D trailer is that the tease demands that you go see the movie in an actual theater to see more where that came from – well-played when we were all starting to get a tiny bit of Machete fatigue. Check out the insane trailer below to see what I’m yammering about:

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machete

Robert Rodriguez’s latest tribute to 70s B-cinema, Machete Kills, seems to be in the full court press phase of its marketing campaign, because just a few weeks out from its October 11 release date it has now released a new red band trailer that gets deep into all the over-the-top gore and purposeful sleaze that the film has to offer. And, from the looks of things, the movie gets real over-the-top, and super-sleazy. Fans of the first film might not want to give this latest ad a look though, as its purpose seems to be shocking anyone who might still be on the fence about the franchise into the theater. If you’re a Machete fan, chances are one of the things you enjoyed about the first go-around was all of the inventive, ludicrous methods that Danny Trejo’s Machete character concocted to kill people, and though this red band trailer is kind of a lot of gory fun, it also looks like the sort of thing that likely gives most of the best kills the movie has to offer away. Anyone who doesn’t like to be spoiled should move on, but for those of you who don’t mind, click away.

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machete iphone

No, Machete doesn’t have time to run a twitter account – he has orders from the President (played by some guy named Carlos Estevez) to head down to Mexico and stop a missile from hitting the White House. Good thing his iPhone is equipped with a smaller machete instead of a useless twitter app. Danny Trejo is back in Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills, and oh does he ever live up to that title. Now contracted by the government TO KILL, Machete has to stop south of the border villain Mel Gibson — who frankly looks like he’s having the time of his life — from succeeding in his dastardly ways. Though Machete’s got help from a lot of badass babes on his side, Gibson has a “super soldier” army to fight. Sofia Vergara is a standout as some kind of militant fembot, as well as Lady Gaga, who appears in part of the film disguised as Cuba Gooding Jr. Sidenote: How great would it be if we found out the real Cuba Gooding Jr. was just Lady Gaga in disguise this whole time? She would be the greatest actress of our lifetime.

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vergara guns

You’ve probably already got an idea in your head of what a sequel to Robert Rodriguez’s tribute to B-movies, Machete, is going to look like. You expect that unique-to-modern-cinema, handcrafted look that Rodriguez’s do-it-yourself strategy produces, you expect some hammy acting and over-the-top action scenarios, and you expect at least one closeup of Danny Trejo’s glorious, craggy face. So, seeing as everyone pretty much already knows what to expect from Machete Kills, and already has a strong idea of whether or not they’re interested in going to see it, what sales tactic could one use to catch potential audience members off guard with the trailer? This time around they seem to have decided to highlight just how absurdly eclectic the cast Rodriguez has put together is, mostly by having all of his actors do ridiculous things while their names flash across the screen. Click through to see who all he got. Oh yeah, and hopefully you speak Spanish.

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2010’s The Expendables gave fans of iconic action hero badasseration a taste of what it would be like to experience some of our favorite face punching, public property demolishing, one-liner dropping stars of recent yesteryear share the big screen. It was over the top, explodey good times. Stallone, Li, Crews, Statham, Lundgren, Couture, and Rourke were a fun sample course. Sly, never being one to shy away from sequels (still waiting on Cliffhanger: Hang Some More), poured moonshine in the formula and give us more Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and the perpetual awesomeness that is Chuck Norris in The Expendables 2.   Even better, the villain finally gets an equal measure of excellence in the form of The Muscles from that Place in Belgium, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Sorry Eric Roberts, I love you but…Sharktopus. Still, one JCVD chair-splits punch alone isn’t enough to compete with those  three decades worth of action superstars, and whomever tangles with them next will have to compete with an action aficionado wet dream of additional Expendables. What is a top bad guy to do? Contract out — pull an equal measure of baddies from the past together and give Barney Ross and company a run for their money. Below are my ten Anti-Expendables, in no particular order.

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The Lizard

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column in a hurry. It’s late for a very big date. With you, dear reader. It’s always been you. Our top story tonight, The Amazing Spider-Man and a new look at the film’s villain, The Lizard. He’s looking quite menacing now that he’s got his full CGI on. Thanks to Entertainment Weekly, we now cannot quite look through the blinds of our window out of fear. Thanks, EW, you are useful as always.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly link round-up column that has a severe addiction to ice cream. And Ron Burgundy’s mustache. We begin this evening with a bit of silliness in the form of photographer Federic Chiesa’s 80s horror movie icons as creepy senior citizens. He leaves no stone unturned — from a drunk old Freddie to a homeless, still masked Jason — and has created something quite fun. The creepiest of all of these is the one above, featuring the little girls from The Shining, all grown up. Not the actual girls — at least not that we know of — but creepy, all the same.

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It’s official. In a stunning turn of events that almost certainly mean it’s Opposite Day, Robert Rodriguez will make a movie he promised he’d make. Jokes aside, Deadline Michoacan is reporting that Rodriguez has secured the financing for Machete Kills, the sequel to the absurdly ballsy action flick starring Danny Trejo. Talks are under way to bring Trejo back on in the hopes of an April production start, and Rodriguez is pointing to the bleachers, claiming a bigger, badder movie. As proof, the second film in a planned trilogy will feature Machete as a hired gun for the government, heading into Mexico to take on a drug cartel and a vicious bad guy who plans to build a space weapon. Yes, it’s getting even deeper into spoof territory with an Austin Powers twist. This character sure has come a long way since Spy Kids, right?

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Anytime you can’t tell whether a trailer is for a real movie or a parodic lark, it reaffirms the need to give it a second or third look. That’s priceless for a lower budget movie based off an internet meme. Bad Ass, a totally real, actual movie, stars Danny Trejo as a bearded man riding a bus who is set upon by local street toughs. When video of him taking their asses out to the curb goes viral, he becomes a crime fighter. It’s based, of course, on Epic Beard Man – an Oakland bus rider who encountered the exact situation (including delivering a whooping and becoming a viral video star). So, why not watch the trailer and the original viral video together? Check it out for yourself, and start growing a beard for justice.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr grabs a protest sign and a test so he can occupy something. All the big cities are taken, so he decides to Occupy Hollywood, but being one of the 99%, he can’t afford a plane ticket from Ohio to California. So, he occupies his local multiplex, squatting in the front of their biggest screen. There, he has a chance to check out the loosely-related Tower Heist and later drinks some spiked egg nog and wanders into a later screening of A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. At least that’s what he’s telling the authorities.

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A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas is the world’s first interracial stoner buddy holiday comedy to be presented in the third dimension. It’s sure to be the last, too. A twin celebration of the joys of yuletide and bong rips, the flick is an appropriately manic and thoroughly nonsensical entrant in the popular trilogy that’s celebrated the joys of White Castle in one movie and condemned Guantanamo Bay in the next. This Christmas takedown is a one-time only feat, a symphony of pristine ridiculousness. You go into a Harold & Kumar flick expecting a heavy dose of weed-tinged surrealism, and director Todd Strauss-Schulson, working with the familiar team of writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, doesn’t disappoint. This is a madcap farce that sends the now estranged heroes (John Cho and Kal Penn) on a frantic Christmas Eve journey into New York City to find a replacement tree.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr flexes his rippling muscles and sets out to live a warrior lifestyle, just like Jason Momoa in Conan the O’Barbarian. But before he can do that, he has to drive a stake through his neighbor’s heart, since he’s certain he lives next door to a vampire. What else could all those sparkles be about? Meanwhile, he sends his kids off to a dangerous 3D, Aroma-Vision mission, hoping they can make it as real spy kids so they can teach him to put on a fake British accent and woo a not-quite-British Anne Hathaway.

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After last Tuesday’s TV news bombshell that consisted of FOX obliterating pretty much every under-performing show on their schedule, many wondered what could be next from the networks in terms of picks-ups and cancellations. Well, NBC has decided to answer that question with a slew of pick-ups, none of which involve the words “wonder” or “woman.” At the moment the fourth place network has called for series orders from four pilots including Whitney a sitcom based on the stand-up comedy and starring Whitney Cummings. The Steven Spielberg produced, Gleeish musical-comedy Smash. The U.S. adaptation of the British series Prime Suspect and the Christina Applegate starring Up All Night. But that’s not all. It appears that NBC decided to have a little heart yet again as reports are filing in from all across the internet saying that spy-comedy CHUCK has indeed been renewed for a fifth season. This is by far the best news I’ve heard all day.

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The most iconic shot of Machete was Danny Trejo bursting forth from the flames of an explosion on a sick motorcycle that every sane human being wants to buy right now. It was in the original (fake) trailer, and made no sense in the best way possible. Now, Danny Trejo may be hopping on his chopper again for a low budget biker movie called Tarantula about the head honcho of a bike gang going after a woman who left the gang and revenge for his brother’s death. These are all great things. The woman in question might be played by Spartacus: Breasts and Blood star Erin Cummings. Both actors are in talks.

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Culture Warrior

Considering the history of early September releases, this was an unusually eventful weekend for movies. The champion of the box-office was a slow-paced, meditative art film disguised as a spy thriller, and its major competition was a grindhouse tribute based on a movie trailer and starring a longtime character actor. On the surface, it seems that Anton Corbijn’s The American and Robert Rodriguez’s Machete couldn’t be any different, but upon closer inspection it becomes clear that these are two stylistically disparate explorations of virtually the same theme; that is, both The American and Machete are about crises in national and cultural identity that occur when one enters another country and becomes an “other” within their culture.

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The temptation to refer to Robert Rodriguez’ new film as Brown Dynamite is strong but for two things. One, while Machete fits a similar mold as Scott Sanders’ hilarious riff on blaxploitation films it just isn’t as consistently good as Black Dynamite. For another, the term “brown dynamite” conjures up some unpleasant imagery especially in the context of spicy Mexican food. But enough about intestinal explosions (for now at least)… let’s talk about this tastelessly absurd, cartoonishly violent, and often ridiculously fun movie!

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