Let the revolution begin ... the Robert Rodriguez revolution! Hot on the heels of restoring the Predator franchise to its gory glory with this summer's hit film Predators, the legendary independent director returns with the long awaited feature film version of his popular short, which appeared in his and Quentin Tarantino's combined directorial effort, Grindhouse. Machete, which opens on September 3rd stars Danny Trejo (Heat) in the title role as a renegade former Mexican police officer looking for justice after his family is gunned down by a drug lord. In addition to Trejo the film boasts a colorful cast of actors including Jessica Alba (Fantastic Four), Michelle Rodriguez (Avatar), Jeff Fahey (Lost), Cheech Marin (The Perfect Game), Don Johnson (Miami Vice), Steven Seagal (Half Past Dead), Lindsay Lohan (Mean Girls) and Oscar winner Robert De Niro (Raging Bull).
Machete premiered Wednesday night at the historic and recently restored Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles and we were there. The star-studded event was complete with Mariachis playing on stage as the packed audience of friends, family, fans, Hollywood-insiders and honored guests strolled into the theater. The stars of the film all arrived in style with Machete himself, Danny Trejo, leading the pack on a special custom made red and yellow flamed chopper designed by LA tattoo and graffiti artist Mister Cartoon. Accompanying Trejo were over twenty authentic low-rider cars, donated by the Lifestyles Car Club, which were carrying members of the cast including Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Don Johnson, Cheech Marin and of course ... Robert Rodriguez. Also in attendance last night was Rodriguez's longtime friend and frequent collaborator Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds), as well as actor Clifton Collins Jr. (Star Trek). Unfortunately not in attendance and notably absent from the festivities were acting legend Robert De Niro, '90s action star and part-time police officer Steven Seagal and recently released from jail tabloid sweetheart Lindsay Lohan.
Once inside, before the film began writer/director Robert Rodriguez wearing his trademark cowboy hat addressed the enthusiastic crowd. He introduced himself and explained that it had been a long journey to make this film and that he first had the idea for it when he was making Desperado. He went on to say that he could "not think of a more perfect time" for the film to be released then now. He also thanked 20th Century Fox for putting together such a wonderful event and that he wants to ride in low-riders to all of his premieres from now on. Rodriguez went on to thank the cast, "Everyone from Robert De Niro to Steven Seagal." Before introducing some very special guests, Rodriguez explained how pleased he was with the movie. "It came out awesome," he said.
The director then brought out his cast one by one. Rodriguez began by explaining that he first met Jessica Alba when she was sixteen but didn't get to work with her until Sin City. "She kicks ass," Rodriguez exclaimed. Alba then entered the stage a midst gasps from the crowd and was as beautiful as ever in an elegant evening gown. In stark contrast, actress Michelle Rodriguez walked on to the stage when she was introduced wearing leather boots, a leather jacket, skin-tight jeans and a t-shirt that seemed to have some sort of a bloody skull on it. Similar to Alba, Rodriguez received a loud response from the male members of the audience when she took to the stage. Robert Rodriguez explained that Michelle Rodriguez was an actress that he "always wanted to work with" and that he hopes she's in his next twenty movies. "She totally kicks ass," he said. Before introducing TV legend Don Johnson, Robert Rodriguez explained that he grew up watching Miami Vice and that Johnson inspired him to do "fast, from the hip filmmaking." Rodriguez continued to introduce his cast. "When I first came to L.A. I was lucky enough to meet this man," the director explained. "He has always supported me and when we first met he wrote his number down on a piece of paper and said if you need me, call me. Well that led to making six movies together. Everyone should have a Cheech Marin in their movie." With that Marin leaped on to the stage with his trademark smile and took his place next to his former Nash Bridges co-star, Johnson.
After a quick shout-out to his pal Quentin Tarantino who was sitting in the audience, it was time for Rodriguez to introduce, as he put it, "the man of the hour." "There is not a more iconic face in the world. You could rock climb on that face," Rodriguez said affectionately of Trejo. "I've made nine movies with Danny and he's taught me that it is okay to fall down in life but it is not okay to not get back up," the director said eluding to Trejo's checkered past as a former San Quentin State Prison convict. Rodriguez explained that although he first had the idea for Machete during Desperado, it was Trejo's persistence that got the trailer for Grindhouse made in the first place. He went on to say that after Grindhouse was released Trejo kept calling him asking, "When are we going to make the movie?" Eventually, after being interrupted by one of Trejo's calls Rodriguez said to him, "Danny, can't you just text me?" Trejo replied in his most sinister voice, "Machete dont's text!" The director continued by saying that the movie really took on a life of its own and that it was only made because so many people had asked for it.
Finally, Rodriguez introduced the star of his film and his friend by simply saying, "Danny Trejo has gone from ex-con to icon." With that the audience rose to their feet and applauded for the talented actor who has now appeared in over one hundred and nine films. When Trejo walked on to the stage it was like he WAS Machete, dressed with the character's trademark leather vest, full of knives but otherwise shirtless with all his tattoos exposed. Trejo was visibly moved by the audiences genuine excitement for him and Alba captured the moment by taking pictures of Trejo from the stage with her camera-phone. Trejo addressed the crowd and thanked them for their enthusiasm, "This movie was only possible because of all of you." The actor went on to talk about a man he met in England a few years ago that asked him for an autograph. The man wanted Trejo to sign his back and he agreed. Much to Trejo's surprise, the man had a Machete tattoo on his back. Trejo couldn't believe it, "I thought people only got pictures of their wives or pets tattooed on them?" Trejo explained that this incident prompted one of the phone calls that Rodriguez was referring to. The actor dialed up the director, told him what happened and just said, "We got to make this movie and we got to make it good!"
With that the lights went out in the theater and the film began. While audiences will eventually have a chance to decide for themselves if the film that was ultimately made is any "good," if the premiere's audience's reactions are any indication, it would seem that Trejo and Rodriguez achieved their goal. Unfortunately we can't give you too many details about the film itself until it opens on September 3rd but we can say that it totally kicks ass! The filmmakers were able to keep intact the fun tone and feel of the original short while expanding the characters and the story. All the actors are fantastic and perfectly cast in their roles. It definitely will not disappoint any longtime fan of Rodriguez and Trejo's previous work and is an absolute must-see film!