REVIEW: Machete

Machete
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez & Ethan Maniquis
Written by: Robert Rodriguez & Álvaro Rodriguez
Starring: Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, and Robert DeNiro

The official end of the Summer 2010 movie season roars by with Robert Rodriguez’s blood-splattered message movie Machete.  Originally showcased as a fake trailer at the beginning of the Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino Grindhouse double-feature in 2007, the cult following of this idea pushed it into production.  Now that the final product is here for everyone to see, they may scratch their heads.

For one, Rodriguez has decided to make the full film version of Machete an indictment of U.S. immigration policy.  If that doesn’t throw B-movie gore-seekers off, Robert DeNiro cheesing it up as a Texas Senator yelling “Welcome to America!” as he blasts immigrants at the border might.  You can’t help but laugh at both of these, the latter pleasantly and the former not so much.  It is this battle of the pleasant surprises duking it out with the unpleasant ones that is at the core of Machete.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: Battle Royale

Battle Royale
Directed by: Kinji Fukasaku
Written by: Kenta Fukasaku (screenplay), Koushun Takami (novel)
Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Chiaki Kuriyama, and Reiko Kataoka

The age old question “What would you do to stay alive?”  has been explored to death.  A unique take on an old adage is always welcome, and Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale hoped to deliver that.  Does it succeed?  Kind of.

In a futuristic vision of Japan, the children are too unruly.  So, a classroom of 40 children is selected at random each year to partake in a brutal three day free-for-all on an island until only one remains.  If more than one remains, the collars placed around their necks will detonate.  Then the survivor returns to the country, striking fear into the others with their stories of the horror.

This is a film that could be analyzed to death by philosophers and historians as to what exactly it means in the context of Japanese history.  Is it an allegory to Japan’s involvement in World War II?  Is it a statement about individualism in a country that is notoriously solidified and stubborn in combat?  It’s both, and they kind of mesh, which is why the film could be looked at so deeply.

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