Rodriguez's "Machete" plays tough themes for laughs

Wed Sep 1, 2010 1:13pm EDT
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By Silvia Aloisi

VENICE (Reuters) - A tale of illegal Mexican immigrants, corrupt U.S. politicians, nasty drug lords and vigilantes turns pulp movie in Robert Rodriguez's "Machete," which had the audience laughing out loud at the Venice festival.

The unlikely action hero of the blood-filled film is a long-haired, tattooed and aging former Mexican cop, nicknamed Machete after his favorite weapon -- which he uses time and again to get revenge against the killers of his family.

Set on the barren border between Texas and Mexico, Machete has an eclectic cast including Robert De Niro as an anti-immigrant U.S. senator, Jessica Alba as a law enforcement agent, veteran action film actor Steven Seagal, "Miami Vice" star Don Johnson and Lindsay Lohan.

Born and raised in Texas, Rodriguez said the idea for Machete came from a fake trailer that he inserted in his and Quentin Tarantino's tribute to B-movies, "Grindhouse," released in 2007.

"That trailer fed the audience's appetite and for years after that people asked whether I would make Machete into a feature. They kept coming and asking for it," Rodriguez said after a press screening of his film, which is being presented out of competition at the Venice festival.

Several of Rodriguez's previous films, including "El Mariachi," "Desperado" and "From Dusk Till Dawn" deal with Mexico, but he said this time he wanted to make a movie starring a Mexican action hero that could appeal to a wider audience.

"This is not just for Latinos, I wanted someone with a violent background, an incorruptible guy that would not take a step backwards, and I wanted to do something that people had not seen before" he said.

ALL ABOUT KNIVES   Continued...

<p>Actor Danny Trejo (L) and director Robert Rodriguez pose for photographers during a photocall for the movie "Machete" at the 67th Venice Film Festival September 1, 2010. REUTERS/Tony Gentile</p>