'Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo' Review: Machete's life story will inspire even the most cynical of people
Leaving behind a life of crime and violence, the legendary actor has managed to build a legacy as a star and a hero to many both on and off camera. That story is now told in the documentary 'Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo', which even the most cynical of people would find inspiring.
Starting with Trejo's childhood in Pacoima in Los Angeles, California, the feature-length docufilm retraces the actor's journey through drugs and armed robbery all the way to prison. For most people, that would have been the end of the line but fate had much more in store for Trejo. The documentary goes into detail about Trejo's first brush with Hollywood and how he was initially cast in small non-speaking roles billed as Inmate #1, Gangbanger #1, etc. It then moves on to his bigger speaking roles in movies like 'Heat', 'Desperado', 'Con Air', and the 'Spy Kids' franchise, which gave him his nickname Machete.
It also brings up his friendship with a fellow ex-con, pulp novelist, and actor Eddie Bunker, whom you may know as Mr. Blue in Quentin Tarantino's 'Reservoir Dogs'. It's that friendship that eventually helped Trejo get his first break into Hollywood but it's only one among a multitude of strong relationships that Trejo has built over the years.
Filled with anecdotes from Trejo's friends and family, including his children and stars like Michelle Rodriguez, Donal Logue and Robert Rodriguez, the documentary presents the powerful story of a man who overcame his demons to become a better man and help others find the light as he once had. Combined with footage of Trejo speaking to convicts with a sobering sense of honesty, the documentary creates a nuanced portrait of a man who has been to hell and back.
The difficult life that Trejo has lived has taught him more than most actors learn in all their years of training and this fact comes across very early in the documentary. At a time where it's so easy to lose hope and become disillusioned, Trejo's journey is one that can hopefully inspire many to face their own inner demons and come out on top.
'Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo' will be released on Digital HD on Tuesday, July 7, 2020.