February 28th: Desperado


Release Date: 1995
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Why I picked this: It’s the sequel to “El Mariachi”

This movie is certainly spewing of energy and creativity, but I felt that something was missing when comparing it to its predecessor. “El Mariachi” was a miracle in filmmaking; with a $7,000 budget, director/producer/writer Robert Rodriguez crafted a fun and inventive action movie. He does the same with this movie, instead with a higher budget and more prominent actors. The higher budget definitely shows; while hitting all of the visual cues of the original film, the production values are much better. This certainly looks like a Hollywood film. Instead of Carlos Gallardo playing El Mariachi, instead being recast into a smaller role, Antonio Banderas is the one carrying the guitar case this time. After the ending of the original film, El Mariachi becomes more of a hardened character rather than running around confused. He comes across like a gunslinger from a Western, and as a result, is less easier to relate to. The female lead is played by Salma Hayek, with the antagonist Bucho being played by Joaquin de Almeida. These two characters have the exact same roles as their counterparts in the first film. The female lead is a love interest who assists El Mariachi, but is also involved with the protagonist in some way. The antagonist is some sort of crime boss who sends his goons on a wild goose chase for El Mariachi, even with little information on who he is. What’s new are great supporting performances from actors Steve Buscemi, Quentin Tarantino, and Cheech Marin; they all have small parts, but are very memorable in their short time. It is worth mentioning, however, that they play similar characters to others they have played on screen. I was a little confused about the plot; what was El Mariachi’s conflict with the antagonist? I’m sure it had nothing to do with the ending of the first movie, as the female lead and antagonists were all dead at the end. It was hard to invest myself in his journey without knowing his motivation. Plot-wise, this has a very similar structure to the first film, ending with a crazy climax and a non-sensical resolution with people being shot at, an element that I didn’t even like in the first movie. I enjoyed all of the references to the first movie, but at times, I felt that I was simply watching a bigger budget remake of the first movie. The action is very well directed though; one shootout in a bar had very impressive choreography and camerawork. However, the henchmen in this movie have shots like intoxicated and blindfolded Stormtroopers; it was hard to suspend my disbelief. The explosive climax was fun to watch, but the inclusion of one particular weapon was ridiculous.

There is some fun and creative action; the cast overall is pretty good, and I like the references to the first film, but it feels very much the same, and even lacks a certain charm that the first film had.


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