‘El mariachi’ to ‘Machete,’ Robert Rodriguez never wastes a resource
Austin-based Robert Rodriguez has earned his reputation as a maverick, do-it-all filmmaker who makes the most of every resource at his disposal. Give him left-over chicken gizzards, he’ll make a tasty chicken soup.
He was, after all, the guy whose first breakout hit, 1992’s “El mariachi,” was made for the Mexican video market for a paltry $7,000, part of which he reportedly earned by working as a test subject in medical science tests.
Since establishing his Troublemaker Studios in his Texas hometown, Rodriguez has gone on to much bigger things, but always with that hand-made ethic that often sees him serving on his films as director, producer, writer, editor, musical composer, cinematographer, sound technician, visual-effects artist, electrician, actor, production designer, miscellaneous crew and more.
So it’s not surprising that this style of using everything but the kitchen sink to make his movies comes to the fore in his newest picture – the over-the-top actioner “Machete,” an amazing amalgam of low-budget, B-movie panache and big-time Hollywood star power.
The overarching gag about “Machete” is that it’s the classic example of the tail wagging the dog; it’s a feature-length movie drawn from one of several “fake trailers” included in Rodriguez’s and Quentin Tarantino’s 2007 exploitation double feature, “Grindhouse.”
Apparently, audience buzz for the “Machete” trailer was so strong that Rodriguez decided make a “Machete” movie for real. So he dusted off an unproduced script he’d written in 1993, after he’d first cast Danny Trejo in “Desperado.” Then, recycling footage from the fake trailer, casting Trejo in the lead and adding star power with a surprisingly potent cast that includes Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Don Johnson and Lindsey Lohan, Rodriguez gradually built a “Machete” that 20th Century Fox elected to release as a late-summer theatrical feature.
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