Cert 15 Stars 4
Danny Trejo burst onto the global cinema consciousness as a knife-throwing killer in 1995’s scorching action thriller Desperado, and this fascinating and inspirational documentary explores his extraordinary life story of personal reinvention from teenage junkie to violent criminal and popular Hollywood hard man.
Raised by his extended family in a poor violent and semi-rural Mexican neighbourhood in Los Angeles, he spent much of the 1950s and 1960s in prison for armed robbery in the notorious San Quentin prison, and he’s great at describing the toxic atmosphere, the riots and his stints in solitary confinement.
Becoming the prison boxing champ in bouts where the Queensbury rules were pretty much optional, he cleaned up of drugs, found god and became a youth counsellor.
In Hollywood he’s worked notably with Charles Bronson, Salma Hayek and Robert De Niro, and his life experiences gave him a unique and very funny approach to dealing with actors.
There are interviews with his adult children, childhood friends, and co-stars, and a straightforward formula works because there’s absolutely no need to embroider his remarkable life.