Desperado (1995) – Robert Rodriguez

 

101 Action Movies brings Robert Rodriguez into the fold with this sequel/remake/self-homage follow-up to his shoestring budget independent action film, El Mariachi. Desperado has a two ridiculously good-looking leads amongst an all-star cast. Antonio Banderas takes over the role of the Mariachi, and Salma Hayek is Carolina. The first time I saw this movie was the first time I had ever seen Hayek and I was gobsmacked, this woman is absolutely stunning in this movie.

Preceded by Buscemi (played by Steve Buscemi), who gets the lay of the land for him, the Mariachi arrives in town to hunt down and kill Bucho (Joaquim de Almeida) the man who ruined his life by having the woman he loves killed, and ruined his livelihood as a guitar player by shooting him through the left hand.

Vowing revenge, the Mariachi rolls into town and stirs it up, with a guitar case filled with guns and weapons, he takes on all comers as he seeks his foe, and the bodies begin to pile up. When he’s wounded he tumbles into Carolina’s care, who runs the town’s only book shop, where no one ever comes, because no one in town reads. But she has a secret as well…

The chemistry between the two of them is intense, and they have a wonderful onscreen relationship, serving as a nice counterpoint to all the gunfights going on.

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Having said that, the gunfights are pretty awesome, my favorite is in a bar run by Short Bartender (Cheech Marin), while a Pick-Up Guy (Quentin Tarantino) is in the back, the Mariachi comes in, and once his weapons cache is discovered turns the bar into a John Woo-esque battle ground as bullets fly, and there is diving, sliding and rolling aplenty.

When Buscemi warns him off of following his path of vengeance, as he won’t like what he’ll find, the Mariachi ignores him, and comes to a stunning conclusion as the film races into its final act, which sees him joined by the other two members of his band, Campa (Carlos Gallardo) and Quino (Albert Michel Jr.).

The action is loud, explosive, and a little over-the-top, and makes for a helluva ride. The film is fast, slick, has a kick ass soundtrack featuring Los Lobos, and doesn’t pause for breath.

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Rodriguez not only shot the film as its director, he also wrote, produced it and edited it, something he has done on pretty much all of his films. Now that is creative control!

Although basically a remake of El Mariachi with a bigger budget, this film let Rodriguez play with more toys, and it’s all there on the screen whether in his casting, his production or his action sequences, the man does not squander his budget.

This one is a personal favorite for many reasons, not the least of which was because it introduced me to Salma. Everything just combines to make a fun action picture.

Of his Mariachi trilogy, which also includes Once Upon A Time In Mexico, this one is definitely my fave of the three, and it was a lot of fun to revisit it. It also features fan favorite Danny Trejo!

What’s your favorite Rodriguez film?

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