The true-life story of Danny Trejo should come as no surprise to anyone. There’s a reason we love the man and hate the villains he portrays. His story is one of redemption that offers a much-needed boost of hope right now. Brett Harvey’s Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo is a comprehensive look into the history, trials, and personality of Trejo himself.
The documentary moves in standard chronological order. Danny Trejo was born and raised in the city of Pacoima. After his father split, he was raised by his grandmother and lived with nine close female relatives. His father would alter his world even further upon returning and regaining custody of Danny. He returned to the harsh rule of his father’s hand, and his only source of comfort came from his new step-mother Alice, whom he calls mother.
“…Danny would wind up in state prison as a young adult with over a decade of his life taken away.”
Danny’s love of film was born at a young age. He became a super fan of John Wayne and his sidekick Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez in Rio Bravo. Standing next to Wayne, Gonzalez showed that Mexican-Americans could make it outside of Pacoima (how’s that for foreshadowing).
Against his father’s wishes, Danny began hanging out with his uncle Gilbert, who would lead him down a path of drugs and crime. Surprising no one, Danny, would wind up in state prison as a young adult with over a decade of his life taken away. In prison, you were either the predator or the prey, and thanks to Uncle Gilbert, Danny was a predator. He fought and fought and soon became the prison’s boxing champion.
At a certain point, he realized that he didn’t like who he had become, and when given the gift of freedom, Danny decided to think of others and give back to his community. My description here is nothing compared to the actual story of his turnaround, i.e., Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo is a must-watch.
"…everything you want from an inspirational biographic documentary."