Magazine article Screen International

Joe Menendez, 'Ladrones'

Magazine article Screen International

Joe Menendez, 'Ladrones'

Article excerpt

A film about opportunity seems fitting for director Joe Menendez and writer Jon Molerio, who have finally collaborated on their first project 16 years after a fateful encounter.

The sequel to Menendez' well received 2007 release Ladron Que Roba A Ladron, Ladrones is a US action-comedy with American-style jokes set in south Texas, even though the dialogue is mostly Spanish and the film features Latin American superstars Fernando Colunga and Eduardo Yañez.

Opening on October 9, the action-comedy will screen on close to 400 screens nationwide via Pantelion Films, which produced alonsgide Lantica Media.

What was it about the success of Ladron Que Roba A Ladron that will make audiences want to see the second film?

The idea being that these characters are Robin Hoods. What we learned after the first one - it wasn't our intention - but we came up with this idea about a heist being pulled offby the people you don't notice. Afterwards, audiences would comment that they loved the Robin Hood aspect of this: they seize not for themselves but for other people. That spoke to us, so we decided, well why don't we just go for it 100 percent? Make it Robin Hood meets Seven Samurai. In Seven Samurai there were villagers in town who asked a samurai to defeat the bad guy. It was the model for this one. It was the really the audience who gave us the idea to do this, which gave us the Robin Hood aspect for it.

How did you two come together to make this film?

I've known Jon for about 16 years. In fact, Jon was a waiter at a restaurant when I was literally on my second date with my now wife. He starts to make me laugh and he was one of the funniest guys that I ever met. We both learned that we were both from Miami. My wife to this day says I'm very lucky to have a third date. I spent most of the second date talking to Molerio. Since then we have been very good friends. Obviously my wife married me and is still with me, thank God, so it all worked out.

Is this the first time you and Jon formally worked together?

This is the first thing we made together. We have written a lot of things together. I've actually stolen a couple of things that he gave me and I gave him. After the premiere, we hugged each other. It was great. It was exciting.

What was the inspiration behind the storyline for this film? How was the script developed?

We were searching around for a while. We knew there was this humanistic part of it where good guys are helping the little guy defeat a bad guy. We knew that that is what is was going to be. But what was the McGuffin?

I spent a lot of time in Texas doing a show for Robert Rodriguez and so I got very familiar with Texas and a lot of Texas stories. People are still having land disputes that are 162 years old dating back to the Mexican-American War; people trying to claim land. Prior to that war, the Mexican border went all the way up to Oregon, really high up there. When the current borders were drawn after the war, the Treaty Of Guadalupe Hidalgo said that there were all these Mexican ranchers that expanded all the way to Oregon.

So what do you do with all those people? What do you do with the people that were once in Mexico and overnight, became [part of] the United States? Well the Treaty Of Guadalupe said that those Mexican Ranchers who had their original status land grants that the Mexicans won from the Spanish would be allowed to stay on their land. And while they had those papers, the land grants became currency. It became gold. Whoever had those grants kept their land. So what happened was bandits and shady lawyers started scheming and killing these Mexican ranchers for these papers.

A lot of people lost their land and a lot of people kept their land. Our story is about a family that kept their papers, but then the current-day bad guy ends up stealing them. They're about to lose their land. That's why our heroes get hired. So the film is about keeping your home and keeping the land. …

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