Machete (film)

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File:Machete poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Ethan Maniquis
Produced by Robert Rodriguez
Elizabeth Avellan
Rick Schwartz
Written by Robert Rodriguez
Álvaro Rodriguez
Starring Danny Trejo
Steven Seagal
Michelle Rodriguez
Jeff Fahey
Cheech Marin
Lindsay Lohan
Don Johnson
Jessica Alba
Robert De Niro
Music by Chingon[1]
Cinematography Jimmy Lindsey
Edited by Robert Rodriguez
Rebecca Rodriguez
Distributed by 20th Century Fox[2]
(North America)
Sony Pictures Releasing International
Release dates
  • September 1, 2010 (2010-09-01) (Venice Film Festival)
  • September 3, 2010 (2010-09-03)
Running time
105 minutes[3]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10.5 million[4][5]
Box office $44,093,316[5]

Machete is a 2010 American action film written, produced, and directed by Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis. This film is an expansion of a fake trailer that was included in Rodriguez's and Quentin Tarantino's 2007 Grindhouse double-feature. Machete continues the B movie and exploitation style of Grindhouse,[6] and includes some of the footage. The film stars Danny Trejo in his first lead role as the title character, and co-stars Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Don Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Steven Seagal, Lindsay Lohan, Cheech Marin and Jeff Fahey. This was Steven Seagal's first theatrical release film in eight years since his starring role in 2002's Half Past Dead. Machete was released in the United States by 20th Century Fox and Rodriguez's company, Troublemaker Studios, on September 3, 2010.[7] A sequel, Machete Kills, was released on October 11, 2013.


Mexico: Machete Cortez (Danny Trejo), a former Mexican Federal and his younger partner are on a mission to rescue a kidnapped girl (Mayra J. Leal). During the operation, his partner is killed, the kidnapped girl stabs him before being killed herself, and Machete is betrayed by his corrupt Chief to the powerful drug lord, Rogelio Torrez (Steven Seagal), who kills Machete's wife and implies that he will kill his daughter before leaving him for dead.

Three years later, a down-and-out Machete roams Texas, scraping by on yard work. Michael Booth (Jeff Fahey), a local businessman and spin doctor, explains to Machete that corrupt Texas State Senator John McLaughlin (Robert De Niro) is sending hundreds of illegal immigrants out of the country. In order to stop this, Booth offers Machete $150,000 to kill McLaughlin. Machete accepts the murder contract after Booth threatens to kill him if he does not.

Machete trains a rifle on McLaughlin from a rooftop during a rally, but before he fires he sees one of Booth's henchmen aiming at him. The henchman shoots Machete in the shoulder, the latter then shoots McLaughlin in the leg. It is revealed that Booth orchestrated the attempted assassination as part of a false flag operation to gain public support for McLaughlin's secure border campaign. By setting up Machete as the gunman, the conspirators make it appear that an outlaw illegal Mexican immigrant has tried to assassinate the senator, who is known for his tough stance on illegal immigration.

An injured Machete escapes capture by Booth and is taken to a hospital to be treated for wounds, escaping once again from Booth's henchmen at the hospital. Agent Sartana Rivera (Jessica Alba), a persistent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, is sent by her superior to find and capture the injured Machete. Machete, with the help of Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), aka Shé, the leader of an illegal immigrant aid movement known as the Network, recruits Padre (Cheech Marin), his "holy" brother. To take revenge on Booth, Machete kidnaps Booth's wife and his daughter, April (Lindsay Lohan), after "starring" in an amateur adult film with them. He also collects evidence from Booth's house linking McLaughlin and the Mexican drug lord in a major drug trafficking deal. After encountering Machete, Sartana begins to develop an interest in him. Elsewhere, Booth, who is revealed to be working for Torrez, hires a hitman, Osiris Amanpour (Tom Savini), to assist in the hunt for Machete.

Booth and Osiris kill Padre in his church by nailing him to a cross, but do not find his own wife and daughter. Unbeknownst to Booth, the church has cameras. Through the CCTV recordings, the news of McLaughlin's corruption and faked assassination is eventually aired on national television. Infuriated, McLaughlin kills Booth and heads back to join Torrez to kill Machete. In order to eliminate the people who double-crossed him, Machete gathers the Mexican Network and leads them to the base of the border vigilantes, led by Von Jackson (Don Johnson).

During this confrontation, the Mexican illegals triumph over the border vigilantes. Jackson tries to escape, but Luz shoots him in the back of the head. Machete fights Torrez and stabs him. April shows up wearing a nun's habit after escaping from the church and shoots McLaughlin after figuring out that he has killed her father.

McLaughlin, injured, manages to escape, but he is later killed by the last remnants of his own border vigilante group, who mistake him for a Mexican. Ultimately, Machete meets with Sartana, who gives him a green card. They kiss and ride off into the night. The closing credits announce further adventures for Machete.


Production notes

The style and cultural lead character for the 1989 film The Killer sparked the idea of Machete


According to Rodriguez, the origins of the film go back to Desperado. He says, "When I met Danny, I said, 'This guy should be like the Mexican Jean-Claude Van Damme or Charles Bronson, putting out a movie every year and his name should be Machete'. So I decided to do that way back when, never got around to it until finally now. So now, of course, I want to keep going and do a feature".[15] Rodriguez stated, "There weren't any action movies that with a Latin flavor that could play to a broad audience. When I watched [director] John Woo's movies, they made me want to be Asian. Woo and [actor] Chow Yun-Fat's Hard Boiled and The Killer really inspired me to make films that would create that feeling in the Latin arena".[16]

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Rodriguez said that he wrote the screenplay back in 1993 when he cast Trejo in Desperado. "So I wrote him this idea of a federale from Mexico who gets hired to do hatchet jobs in the U.S. I had heard sometimes FBI or DEA have a really tough job that they don't want to get their own agents killed on, they'll hire an agent from Mexico to come do the job for $25,000. I thought, 'That's Machete. He would come and do a really dangerous job for a lot of money to him but for everyone else over here it's peanuts'. But I never got around to making it."[17]

Instead, during the filming of Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse, Rodriguez shot lobby cards and sequences from parts of the original script in 2006 for a fake trailer featuring Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, and Jeff Fahey. At South by Southwest in March 2007, Rodriguez announced that he would be expanding his trailer for Machete into a feature-length film.[18] He announced that it would be a bonus feature on the Planet Terror DVD, but the film ended up being produced as a theatrical release.[18][19]

During Comic-Con International 2008, he took the time to speak about Machete, including such topics as the film's status, possible sequels, and production priorities.[20] It was also revealed that he has regularly pulled sequences from it for his other productions including Once Upon a Time in Mexico.


Rodriguez had always planned on being the head-director of the film, since he usually uses his "one-man crew" technique. In April 2009, it was announced that Ethan Maniquis, who is a long-time editor of Rodriguez's films, would be co-directing the film with Rodriguez.[21][22] At the Comic-Con 2010 event in San Diego, Trejo commented on Rodriguez: "He's a genius. He's an absolute genius. He makes movie-making fun. You know, he makes you wanna go to work. A lot of people wake up saying 'I woke up before my alarm went off' just 'cause you're excited to work with him. You wonder 'what is he going to come up with today?', because every day, he's like inventing something new. So it's awesome to work with somebody like that".[23] "Robert has an incredible vision and is very precise, and [working on his films] you feel like you're in the middle of something both big and experiential. And that anything is possible", states Jeff Fahey, who has collaborated with Rodriguez on Machete and Grindhouse.


The film's lead role had always been intended for Danny Trejo, as Rodriguez mentioned. The two had met during the filming of Rodriguez's film, Desperado. "Nobody really knew about Desperado, yet the local townspeople would flock to see Danny, thinking he was the star of the movie, even though his part was very small", Rodriguez remembers. "He has incredible presence, and I knew I had found Machete. So, I handed him a knife, and told him to start practicing".[16]

Trejo, Cheech Marin, and Jeff Fahey were announced to be reprising their characters in the trailer for the film. Tito Larriva did not reprise his primary role as the sniper who shoots Machete and was replaced by Shea Whigham. Michelle Rodriguez was the first actress to be cast in the film who wasn't in the original trailer. Chris Cooper was approached for the role of Senator McLaughlin. After Cooper turned down the role, Robert De Niro was cast instead. "From the moment you get Robert De Niro in your movie, all the other actors come running", says Robert Rodriguez on De Niro's involvement in the film.[24]

"What I liked about the character was that it was a fun thing to do in a sense of irony and it's not taken seriously. He's not taken seriously on one level so that frees you to have fun without being weighted down by some requirements", says De Niro on playing his character.[25] Lindsay Lohan was revealed to be cast in the film in July 2009. "Lindsay's cool", Rodriguez said of Lohan. "There's actually a cool part in the movie for her if she takes it".[26] Lohan portrays April Booth, the socialite daughter of Booth, the man who double-crosses Machete. "April was born into a life of privilege and takes everything she has for granted", says Lohan. "But she undergoes a big change. As an actress, I like pushing the envelope".[24] Lohan recolored her hair from auburn red to platinum blonde.[27]

Jonah Hill was originally cast as Julio,[28] but was replaced by Daryl Sabara, who had worked with Rodriguez, Marin, and Trejo on the set of the Spy Kids franchise. Jessica Alba said of her role of Agent Sartana, "My character is an Immigrations Officer and she hunts him (Machete) down, but finds out that he was double-crossed himself. She wrestles with her own right-wing kind of mentality because she's all about enforcing the law and doing what the system tells you".[29]

"The cast may have sounded bizarre to some people when first announced. But when you watch Machete, you see that the actors fit their roles very well. The eclectic mix really works. Danny's worked in hundreds of movies and probably worked with everyone in Machete at some point. Everyone just loves Danny and appreciated the fact he was finally getting to be the star of his own film. I remember Robert De Niro, who worked with Danny in Heat telling him that, '[Machete] is going to be really good for you'."[24]

Regarding the nudity that was present in the film, Rodriguez mentioned that he deliberately set the first scene with a nude woman (actress Mayra Leal) to make the audience think that subsequent scenes show more than they actually do.[30] Jessica Alba mentioned that for her shower scene, "I had undies on, and I had other stuff on, and they just sort of etched it out in post [production]. That's not really me. I'm better covered up".[31]


Filming for the fake trailer for Grindhouse began in the summer of 2006, while Rodriguez was also filming Planet Terror. The scenes that Rodriguez shot only consisted of scenes involving Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, Jeff Fahey, and Tito Larriva. Some of the scenes filmed for the trailer were left intact in the film, while others have been re-shot.

Principal photography began on July 29, 2009 in and around the city of Austin, Texas. Lindsay Lohan filmed her role in three days, two in August and one in September.[32] Principal photography of the film ended on September 24, 2009.



The first trailer was released and attached to Planet Terror in 2007. On July 28, 2010, it was confirmed that Machete would headline the Venice Film Festival held on September 1, 2010, at a special midnight screening, followed by the general theatrical release on September 3.[33][34]

The film was released in the U.S. on September 3, 2010,[35] by 20th Century Fox.[36] The film appeared on 3,400 screens at 2,670 locations.[37]

The film was released in Australia on November 11 and in Mexico on November 12, 2010.[citation needed]

A fake trailer for the film was released on May 5, 2010, through Ain't It Cool News. The trailer opened with Danny Trejo saying, "This is Machete with a special Cinco de Mayo message to Arizona", followed by scenes of gunfire, bloodshed, and highlights of the cast.[38] The fake trailer combined elements of the Machete trailer that appeared in Grindhouse with footage from the actual film,[39] and implied that the film would be about Machete leading a revolt against anti-immigration politicians and border vigilantes.[39] According to Fox News, critics of illegal immigration were offended by the contents of the movie trailer.[40] Production of the film predates the legislation, however.[38]

Several film websites, including Internet Movie Database, reported that it was the official teaser for the film.[39] However, Rodriguez later revealed the trailer to be a joke, explaining "it was Cinco de Mayo and I had too much tequila". The official theatrical trailer was released on July 8, 2010.[39] It was then attached with Predators, which Rodriguez produced, and later shown before The Expendables.[41] A red band trailer featuring more gruesome scenes from the film was released on July 23, 2010.[42]

Box office performance

Film Release date Box office revenue Box office ranking Budget Reference
United States United States International Worldwide All-time United States All-time worldwide
Machete September 2010 $26,593,646 $17,499,670 $44,093,316 #2,179 Unknown $10,500,000 [43]

Machete opened in 2,670 theaters in the United States on September 3[44] and earned $14,102,888 for its four-day weekend, placing second at the box office behind The American.[45] The film opened at #2 behind The American and took in $3,866,357—$1,448 per theater—on its opening day and $14,102,888—$4,001 per theater—on its opening weekend. Machete placed fourth at the box office by the end of the week after Resident Evil: Afterlife opened in theaters, totaling $20,916,709.

Machete has made $26,593,646 in the United States as of November 18, 2010.[5] The film made another $17,499,670 in foreign markets, bringing the gross total of $44,093,316, as of November 18, 2010.[46]

Critical reception

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic Entertainment Weekly
Machete 72% (180 reviews)[47] 60/100 (29 reviews)[48] B[49]

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 72% based on 180 reviews, with an average rating of 6.3 out of 10 giving the film a "certified fresh" rank. The site's general consensus is that, "Machete is messy, violent, shallow, and tasteless -- and that's precisely the point of one of the summer's most cartoonishly enjoyable films".[50] Another aggregator, Metacritic, gives the film a score of 60% based on 29 reviews.[51] Jessica Alba won a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress, along with her other roles in The Killer Inside Me, Little Fockers and Valentine's Day.[52]

Home media

Rodriguez has expressed in an interview that an even more violent director's cut will be released on home media.[53]

The R-rated theatrical version of Machete was released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 4, 2011.

On the week ending January 9, 2011, Machete debuted atop the DVD sales chart in America. The DVD sold 691,317 copies in its first week of release.[54]

In the Blu-ray deleted scenes, Rose McGowan is featured as one of Osiris's henchmen named Boots McCoy; one scene shows her confronting Luz and shooting her through a cat she is holding, hitting her in the eye and seemingly killing her. However, in the film, this action was given to Von Jackson, and it is later revealed Luz is merely blinded. In other deleted scenes Jessica Alba also plays the role of Sis, Sartana's twin sister. McCoy later shows up and slits her throat with a razor blade, thinking she is actually Sartana.


Before the credits roll, a screen super reads that Machete will return in Machete Kills and Machete Kills Again.

According to Trejo, Rodriguez had scripts for the first of two Machete sequels, titled Machete Kills and Machete Kills Again.[55] Both these titles appear in the end credits of the film's theatrical release. At the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con, Rodriguez said that both sequels have been greenlit. The trailer for the third film, Machete Kills Again,[56] precedes the second film as a "Coming Attraction".[57][58] Machete Kills was released on October 11, 2013.


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External links