Let's get this over with at the start: Robert Rodrigues is cool. Robert Rodrigues' movies are cool. And this one has Danny Trejo. Cool!
At the movie's start, Machete (Danny Trejo) is a tough federale. He goes after drug kingpin Torrez (Stephen Seagal), but gets knifed by a nekkid lady and has to watch as Torrez beheads Machete's wife. Torrez says he's going to also kill Machete's daughter and leaves the wounded federale to die in a blazing building. Machete survives, his life and career ruined, goes to the United States, and becomes a day laborer. He's hired by bad guy Booth (Jeff Fahey) to assassinate a state senator (Robert deNiro). The whole thing's a set-up with Machete as the patsy. The senator is a psychopath who likes to kill Mexicans and Booth is his aide who's staging an assassination attempt to gain public sympathy for the senator. Fahey, by the way, also plays a stone-cold killer. They both have links to Von Jackson (played by sound-alike Don Johnson) who heads up a militia guarding the border and killing Mexicans. Pulling the strings on all three is Torrez, who is using them to gain a monopoly on drugs crossing the border.
Opposing all these baddies is Luz (Michelle Rodrigues) who runs an underground network helping Mexicans who cross the border, when she's not serving tacos from a canteen truck, that is. Also on the side of the angels are Santana (Jessica Alba) and Machete's brother, a priest/funeral director (Cheech Marin). Let's not forget April Booth (Linsay Lohan) who is a sex-crazed drug addict, the object of her daddy's unfulfilled lust, and (in the end) a gun-totin' nun.
So what makes this movie so great? Besides Danny Trejo, that is. Well, there's blood and beheadings and gore and more blood. There's nekkid ladies and explosions and more nekkid ladies. And a nekkid Lilo. And there's guns and cool cars and fightin' and backstabbin' and treachery. There's knives and machetes and weed wackers. And Danny Trejo. (Did I mention the nekkid ladies?)
If you saw the "Planet Terror" sequence in Rodrigues' homage to B movies and drive-ins Grindhouse, you may remember the "trailer" for Machete that Rodrigues inserted. Footage from that trailer has been lovingly included in this movie and it shows. (A goodly part of the nekkid Lilo was actually the nekkid someone else from that trailer.) Rodrigues respects the genre to much not to have fun with it from beginning (where the credits say "and introducing Don Johnson") to end (where we are promised that Machete, like James Bond, will return...and return). Grainy film, jerky action scenes, phony yet gory bloodletting -- it's all here, told with panache and style.
And it has Danny Trejo.