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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

Country-pop singer, Lizzie Sider sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to perform songs from her new album, “Butterfly,” and to talk about her anti-bullying tour.

Blogs

African Music Treasures