Danny Trejo, the star of Machete, has a face that's so rough, craggy, and etched with hard living that it's like a natural rock formation. With a tattooed torso as thick as a refrigerator, and long oily black hair that frames his simmering coal-fire eyes, Trejo, like Mickey Rourke, is a freakishly hypnotic camera subject. Depending on which angle he's shot from, he can look like the world's toughest biker, a Native American shaman, or a very angry carp. As Machete (pronounced ma-chet-ay), a former Mexican federale who becomes a ghost of a man after his wife is slaughtered in front of him by a drug kingpin (Steven Seagal), Trejo is so badass he's funny. Yet the movie, codirected by Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis, never treats him like a joke. When he slashes people with his machete, which he favors because he's a true warrior (as opposed to the wimps who hide behind their guns), he's an unholy ethnic avenger out of a '70s walking-tall fantasy.
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