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Screener Squad: Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo

Inmate #1: The Death of Danny Trejo Movie Review


F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote “there are no second acts in American lives”, but he might have changed his mind had he lived long enough to watch the new documentary, “Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo”. A drug addict and violent career criminal, Trejo spent over a decade behind bars. In the penitentiary, he developed a reputation as an alpha dog inmate and boxer. He was respected and feared, but after a crisis of conscience, Trejo decided to write his own second act.

Once out of prison, the now clean and sober Trejo became a model citizen, and drug counselor. And that’s where this inspirational story might have ended had it not been for a fluke encounter on the set of 1985’s “Runaway Train”. Recognized by an ex-con turned screenwriter Eddie Bunker, Trejo was hired as a boxing trainer and even cast in a small role as, you guessed it, a prison boxer. And thus began Trejo’s third act as a professional character actor, often typecast as inmates, criminals, and other assorted heavies. But there are even more acts to Trejo’s life as he evolves into a screen icon, entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and pillar of the community.

As unlikely as it may seem, “Inmate #1” may be the feel-good documentary of the year. It’s like “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” if Mr. Rogers robbed liquor stores with a sawed-off shotgun, regularly saw guys getting shivved to death, and wound up with his (thankfully, fake) decapitated head mounted to a slow-moving trolley. Listen to Adrian, Hunter, Ryan, and Marco talk about how much they enjoyed this life-affirming tale of redemption, commitment to service, and a staggering amount of IMDB credits.


DIRECTED BY: Brett Harvey

STARRING: Craig Balkam, Jhonnie Harris, Donal Logue., Cheech Marin, Max Martinez, Michelle Rodriguez, Danielle Trejo, Danny Trejo, Gilbert Trejo

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