Rising from the ashes
I remember when I saw Desperado for the first time, it was very surreal for me to see a movie featuring a huge cast of Mexican actors speaking English for majority of the film. It was this movie where I was introduced to Robert Rodriguez' cool way of film making, the beautiful goddess that was Salma Hayek and of course, Antonio Banderas as the notorious Mariachi. Another face that would later make waves in movies was none other than Danny Trejo, who played the character of an assassin who never said a single word throughout the whole movie. He was very memorable despite never having one line but his quiet demeanor, intimidating stare and of course the ink on his body made him stand out as a particular character that extended into his persona beyond that film. Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo tells his backstory without filter or sunshine, an unrelenting honest view into the actor's childhood upbringing and the pitfalls he endured before his ascension as a movie star. As an actor, he's always been known as the tough Mexican dude or the badass that gets typecast as the bad guy killed off either by the hero or blown up, maimed, burned or dismembered (see the trend?). Beneath the surface though is a man whose troubled youth and tribulations in prison all attributed to who he is not as an actor but as this individual who lives by his own examples to show others what endurance and keeping the straight path can lead to. The film explores some of the actor's very personal and at times depressing parts of his life, from his early introduction to drugs at the young age of 12 to his time in prison where he truly faced the hell of his reality. The film paints a dark canvas of his experience but includes a sense of optimism of the man's journey to get where he is or as he says, towards where he's going. You can't help but get this overwhelming sense of appreciation from watching what he contributes to besides just making movies, as well be touched by his narrative which is deep yet simple: redemption is never out of reach if you're willing to seek it. Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo is one of the best films of this year and gets my highest recommendation.