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Stars: Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Robert De Niro, Steven Seagal, Jeff Fahey, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan, Don Johnson, Daryl Sabara, Cheech Marin, Alicia Marek

Director: Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis

If you've seen the trailer to this in Rodriguez's half of Grindhouse, then you'll know exactly what to expect from this monolithic, limb-chopping saga of those agin Mexicans crossing the border illegally into America.

Alas, Hollywood ugly-mug Trejo lacks the acting chops and is too old at 66 to play ex-federale Machete, who hacks villains away with the knife that bears his name, is double-crossed by his bosses and finds his wife and daughter killed by more bad guys led by Torrez (Seagal).

Three years later, he's hired by Booth (Fahey) to shoot a gubernatorial candidate (De Niro), who's campaigning against 'wetbacks' - and shoots them on the side too, with the help of Von (Johnson). Machete finds he's an assassin's target instead, while one of Fahey's men shoots De Niro in the leg to set him up as a martyr.

There's a resistance leader (Michelle Rodriquez), an unlikely federal agent (Alba) - hell, everything here's unlikely - and Fahey's daughter (Lohan), all of whom succumb to Machete's not very obvious charms.

As said, Trejo is barely up to the task of leading man , while De Niro slums it but not in style, Fahey actually tries to act, and Lohan appears in the nude and dresses as a nun while firing a machine-gun. An increasingly waxwork-like Seagal has almost nothing to do. A sequel is threatened in the end credits, even though the plot is even less convincing than the one in The Expendables.

David Quinlan

USA/Mexico 2010. UK Distributor: Sony (Sony Pictures). Colour by deluxe.
105 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 21 Nov 2010