El Mariachi

"Excellent"

El Mariachi Review


Ten years after its release, Austin-bred Director Robert Rodriguez's El Mariachi is still the subject of Texas-sized legend. People who have never seen the film still know about the circumstances of its production. They know about the borrowed camera. They've heard rumors about the director raising money by guinea-pigging himself out for bizarre medical experiments. Perhaps an inkling about the amateur actors? No question about the $7,500 budget.

But what gets lost among the stories about El Mariachi's genesis is the fact that with a micro budget and macro cojones Rodriguez made a debut feature that's a whole lot of fun. Get over the fascination with how little it cost and just dig on main bad guy Moco's excellent all-white guyabera outfit. Next time you light a cigarette, strike a match on someone's face. Or when you ask for a beer, demand that it comes "en botella, wey." And when you ride off into the sunset on your motorcycle, make sure your faithful dog is sitting on the back.

Details like these, a great sense of humor, and some kick-ass action all elevate this little mistaken identity film above its intended status as a straight-to-Mexivideo exercise and into the realm of vibrant, spontaneous cinema. It's pretty straightforward; a third-generation Mexican troubadour (Carlos Gallardo) wanders into town toting his guitar and looking for work. At the same time, the brutal Azul (Reinol Martinez) shows up with a guitar case full of guns, hell bent on revenge and repayment of money owed to him by the dapper Moco (Peter Marquardt). Guitar cases get switched, the object of Moco's affection (Consuelo Gomez) decides to help the Mariachi and the guns start blazing.

Shot on the streets of Gallardo's hometown, El Mariachi has more life than 10 summer blockbusters combined. The streets are filled with unsuspecting people and cars, even as the Mariachi is chased by packs of armed actors. Rodriguez never drags his feet when it comes to advancing his story, and the quiet moments and dream sequences he uses to develop characters (and give us a break from the action) evoke a quiet atmosphere of inevitable dread. There are pretty obvious mistakes that the low budget couldn't prevent, such as reflections of the camera in windows, blood appearing and disappearing, and other continuity errors. But Rodriguez eagerly points these out in the director's commentary, and his machine-gun editing -- employed mostly to cover these mistakes -- keeps the film moving so fast that they hardly leave an impression.

While the new special edition DVD release delivers some good extras, it may leave Rodriguez fans with a bad taste in their mouth. Pretty much all of the extras on this disc were available on the El Mariachi and Desparado split DVD. While the transfer looks great (especially when, in the "10 Minute Film School" extra Rodriguez compares the DVD image to the VHS image he used to shop the film), and you get a 10 minute EPK about the making of the third Mariachi film Once Upon a Time in Mexico, you get exactly one less feature-length film. Not really the kind of special you expect from a "Special Edition."



El Mariachi

Facts and Figures

Run time: 81 mins

In Theaters: Friday 26th February 1993

Box Office Worldwide: $2M

Budget: $220 thousand

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Production compaines: Columbia Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 25 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as El Mariachi, as Bigotón, as Mauricio (Moco), as Azul, Ramiro Gomez as Cantinero, Consuelo Gómez as Domino

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