As for answers, here's one: 10. The number of heads, roughly, Danny Trejo severs (and he severs them roughly) as the title character in "Machete." He plays an ex-federale now caught up in a conspiracy involving a Mexican drug lord (Steven Seagal), a border vigilante (Don Johnson) and a racist Texas politician (Robert De Niro).
Yes, Robert De Niro. In the same movie as Steven Seagal and all those naked lades. It was Rodriguez's evident intention to make the most tasteless, weirdly cast, wildly irresponsible grindhouse movie of the year, and he's succeeded.
Everybody clowns around, but not everything's as funny as Rodriguez thinks it is. He's a talented recycler of B-movie trash, but he's not enough of an ironist to get away with having De Niro shoot a pregnant Mexican illegal immigrant at a border crossing.
A Mel Gibsonesque crucifixion scene featuring Cheech Marin also felt misjudged, even in the anything-goes context of "Machete."
Then there's the finale, a race war showdown between racist militiamen and an army of Mexican lowriders. It seems inflammatory, and not just because everything blew up.
On the other hand, there are jokes that kill, pardon the pun. As Machete gets rid of the bad guys one by one by 10, he finds his most effective ruse is to walk into armed compounds posing as a gardener, dispatching henchmen with weed-whackers and shears.
And Seagal's performance during his ultimate showdown with Machete is as almost funny as his hairpiece.
Produced by Elizabeth Avellan, Aaron Kaufman, Iliana Nikolic, Robert Rodriguez, Rick Schwartz, Quentin Tarantino; directed by Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis; written by Robert Rodriguez and Alvaro Rodriquez; music by John Debney, distributed by Twentieth Century Fox.