News / Arts & Entertainment

Action Comedy 'Machete' Explores Illegal Immigration Controversy

Danny Trejo stars as MACHETE, a legendary ex-Federale with a deadly attitude and the skills to match.
Danny Trejo stars as MACHETE, a legendary ex-Federale with a deadly attitude and the skills to match.

Multimedia

Audio

Texas-based writer-director Robert Rodriguez pays tribute to the movies that inspired him to become a filmmaker with a no-holds-barred, action-packed adventure that features knife fights, shootouts, car chases and beautiful women …and that's just in the first scene. Here's a look at Machete.



"I saw the file. 'Rogue federal agent ruled by a sense of destiny.' Machete."


He was a Federale - a Mexican national police officer - until a drug kingpin murdered his family. Then, it became personal. Left for dead, the ex-policeman nicknamed "Machete," (for his deadly skill with that long, sharp blade), slips across the Texas border and disappears into the legion of undocumented workers; but he soon finds himself in an underground movement for immigrant rights and against criminals like that notorious druglord.

"You're a fighter."
"Only when there's something worth fighting for."
"Is there?"
"Always."

Danny Trejo stars as "Machete," a character writer-director Robert Rodriguez explains he put in a mock 'trailer' or coming attraction preview as part of Grindhouse, his 2007 double-bill collaboration with Quentin Tarantino.

Danny Trejo is MACHETE, a legendary ex-Federale with a deadly attitude and the skills to match.
Danny Trejo is MACHETE, a legendary ex-Federale with a deadly attitude and the skills to match.

"The reason I made the movie was because that original trailer I put in Grindhouse had such a huge response from fans of all types, because they had never seen a movie like that before," Rodriguez says. "I thought it was kind of a no-brainer: how come nobody has ever made a movie like this before? You had 'blaxploitation' films, but you never had a Latin super-hero."

"Cuidado [warning], don't start what you can't finish, 'Machete.'"

Jessica Alba stars as Sartana, a beautiful immigrations officer torn between enforcing the law and doing what is right.
Jessica Alba stars as Sartana, a beautiful immigrations officer torn between enforcing the law and doing what is right.

"This movie is very strange [and] was very fun to do creatively," explains Rodriguez, "because I shot the trailer first and I wanted to use every shot from the trailer in the movie, so I had to 'reverse engineer' the movie. I looked at the trailer and said 'I need to use the shot of him doing this, how did he get there?' Then I'd come up with things to do that. So the scene of him in the waterfall with the two beautiful blondes …how did he get into that pool? And what twists can I put on it so that it surprises an audience?"

One twist that Rodriguez slips into Machete is framing the action scenes with a serious plot about the raging controversy over illegal immigration in the United States.

Robert DeNiro plays a blustering politician using the issue in his election campaign. Jessica Alba plays an immigration agent attempting to uphold the law.

Nurse Mona [Elise Avellan, left] and Nurse Lisa [Electra Avellan] take a break from healing to wage war against an army of vigilantes.
Nurse Mona [Elise Avellan, left] and Nurse Lisa [Electra Avellan] take a break from healing to wage war against an army of vigilantes.

"I think if it was a serious drama, we wouldn't be able to explore the political themes the way we do in this film," Alba says. "People go in thinking are watching this amazing action-comedy film and they can walk away with a conversation …they can walk away having an opinion on one side or the other. I feel like this also something that is politically and socially relevant anywhere in the world, because every country deals with immigrants and there are always two sides to the argument."

The punchy dialog and gritty action are in the style of low budget features Hollywood used to churn out to fill double-bills at local cinemas - so-called "B" movies; but that description bothers actress Michele Rodriguez (no relation to the writer-director) who plays a local activist in Machete.

Michelle Rodriguez as Luz, a sexy taco-truck lady with a rebellious spirit and a revolutionary heart.
Michelle Rodriguez as Luz, a sexy taco-truck lady with a rebellious spirit and a revolutionary heart.

"I don't like the sound of 'B' movie. I think it is more of an exploitation film," notes Rodriguez, "in the vein of Natural Born Killers or Pulp Fiction or any of those exploitative genres where you just exaggerate images. It's more artistic than a B movie, which is like Splat-man or something with really bad acting. This is different."

On the other hand, Robert Rodriguez embraces the "B" movie spirit.

"There is a quality to a 'B' movie. It is almost giving yourself permission to have more fun than you would normally have and when you go into a movie theater that's what you are going to do," the writer-director says. "You can go to the opera or you can go to the roller coaster. Some people want to go on the roller coaster. That's what I consider the 'B' movie to be.

"Not that it's 'less than …' It can be 'more than …' in a lot of ways if you're talking about the world of entertainment," he adds. "You can ask film students what their favorite film was and they might say a foreign film, but really their favorite first film that got them in love with movies was probably seeing Rambo or Raiders of the Lost Ark in a dark theater as a kid. Those movies travel really well. That's why those actors were big stars. They played all over the world, not just LA and New York, but Ukraine and Nigeria. You knew who the good guy was and who the bad guy was and they're really just fun, strong entertainment."

Machete also features Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, Lindsay Lohan and veteran action star Steven Seagal. The film was shot at Robert Rodriguez's "Troublemaker Studios" in Austin, Texas.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”