COMIC-CON 2010: The unlikely politics of Robert Rodriguez’s ‘Machete’

July 23, 2010 | 9:04 p.m.


Robert Rodriguez didn’t intend to make a statement about immigration. It just worked out that way.

When the controversy over the Arizona immigration law bubbled up several months ago, the director re-cut a version of the trailer for “Machete,” his hybrid thriller/action/exploitation picture, to protest the law.

“It’s kind of funny because it’s not really what the movie is about, and I didn’t want people to think that it was,” Rodriguez said Thursday night from Comic-con. “I just felt like I had to say something about it so I cut that trailer. There’s so much grandstanding and those of us who live near a border know how unsolvable the issue really is.”

Machete-photo-gallery Rodriguez was speaking from a giant party-cum-exhibition in downtown San Diego, where Fox had taken over a huge empty lot and set up dozens of low-rider cars, an outdoor screen and a taco truck to promote the Mexican American auteur’s latest film. (All the elements figure into the film.)

Though “Machete” indeed features a grandstanding politician in the form of Robert DeNiro, it also tells a broader story about a mythic ex-federale (the tough-guy character actor Danny Trejo), a taco truck operator (Michelle Rodriguez) and an assortment of other colorful types, some played by equally colorful personalities, including Don Johnson and Lindsay Lohan.

Rodriguez, who co-directed the film with Ethan Maniquis, developed the movie from a fake trailer embedded in “Grindhouse,” the exploitation double bill  he directed with Quentin Tarantino, adding characters and plot elements as he went. “It started with this short fake trailer, but before I knew it it had evolved into this hydra,” Rodriguez said. “By the time it was all done I felt like each character could almost be a movie unto itself.” (Read more on Rodriguez at sister blog Ministry of Gossip.)

Stars Rodriguez and Trejo turned out too, and, in keeping with his tough-guy image, Trejo sounded a direct note about border policy. Stepping out from a phalanx of bodyguards, the mustachioed actor told Hero Complex, “If you’re a politician and you need to go after the issue, that’s fine. That’s what politicians do. But if you don’t care and you’re just grandstanding then … you.”

He then went on to talk how people were starting to pick up on the character portions of the film. “I leave my house and people scream out ‘Machete.’ A guy in England came up to me and he had a giant tattoo of Machete — on his back.”

But as much as Rodriguez has broadened the movie to include a host of genre elements (there are violent priests and quirky druglords, too) political issues somehow keep finding him. At Thursday’s event, a giant fence surrounded the lot, creating a series of haves and have-nots for those who wanted to watch the footage. Rodriguez made a joke about it from the stage, and later shrugged in an interview.  “A fence!” he said. “How weird is that as I’m showing footage and there’s actually a fence?”

–Steven Zeitchik


ComicCon logo

PHOTO GALLERY: Scenes from Comic-Con 2010

Stallone, locked and loaded in “old school way” 

Joss + J.J = Nerdvana! 

Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren see “RED”

“Scott Pilgrim” in San Diego…with jet-packs

Jeff Bridges, old and new, plugs in “Tron: Legacy”

Bruce Campbell and “Burn Notice” will go back in time

“Battle: Los Angeles” and how to swear like a marine

The Hero Complex guide to San Diego madness

Photo: Danny Trejo in ‘Machete.’ Credit: 20th Century Fox


8 Responses to COMIC-CON 2010: The unlikely politics of Robert Rodriguez’s ‘Machete’

  1. whocares says:

    this movie 'machete' will start the race war.
    google machete and watch the trailer.
    the movie is race bating. bad news. more whiteys with guns in the country
    than any other race. oh…and the asians side with whitey. oh and the blacks
    hate the latinos for taking their jobs.
    google it and watch the trailer.

  2. Paleta Fresca says:

    "Whocares" don't be a troll. Machete looks like a bloody good time. That's all.

  3. Tom Snyder says:

    Illegal aliens are cheaters and lawbreakers. The national borders and Anglo culture must be protected or else the legal meaning of the English language in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution can be twisted even further out of shape.

  4. Rodriguez Fan says:

    Ignore the other comment about a so-called "race war." Neither the actual trailer for Machete, nor the satirical version about Arizona have anything to do with what "whocares" posted. Must be a weak attempt by some loser troll to discredit Roriguez's film before it even gets released. I'm glad that Rodriguez will be able to make some kind of political message in an exploitation film (like in Planet Terror's allusions to Iraq) given that most so-called political films today (Green Zone, Hurt Locker, etc.) are so horribly retarded in their politics that they either reinforce the status quo or nobody bothers to see them because the audience knows their intelligence will be insulted. Hopefully MACHETE will be alot better than PREDATORS, which it appears Rodriguez made just to pay his bills.

  5. American Patriot says:

    There's only one war and it's the ones the international bankers are waging on all citizens around the world.

  6. Simone says:

    Great idea; take a break from pro-illegal propaganda on TV and in the papers to go watch more pro-illegal propaganda in a movie theater. Think I will pass.

  7. ya hga says:

    hey have u guys seen the Machete trailer yet?? saw some stuff down at comic con last week when they were down there. pretty solid stuff check it out here

  8. gil2chill says:

    You have a picture of Danny Trejo and Michelle Rodriguez, but the caption is wrong, says Lindsay Lohan.
    Rodriguez produced Predators, didn't direct it, not sure how involved he really was in this project, but hey, what did you expect here ? It's Predators, not the Piano… As geek as it gets, not supposed to be a masterpiece, more of a popcorn movie.
    It's like Transformers 2. It is flawed, but it also features remarkable, breath-taking, never-seen-before action scenes, one can enjoy watching those imperfect movies.

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