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4.4 out of 5 stars21
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 3 July 2000
Desperado has been described as a 'south of the border Pulp Fiction', but this is rather misleading, as Tarantino's masterpiece should really stand alone from any other (in a direct comparison, Pulp Fiction would have to be the better film) and Desperado is in many ways unique in its style. Set in dusty Mexico and following the violent exploits of a pushed-too-far musician, Desperado has more in common with the likes of Last Man Standing. The director, Robert Rodriguez, is clearly in favour of a fast-cutting, action-filled movie, and the action is furious and bloody at times, but giving the audience time to cool off in-between gunfights.
Antonio Banderas was excellently cast for the lead role, and throughout the movie he contributes much to the mysterious but fast-paced atmosphere with his Latino ambience, his seemingly natural use of weapons and his athleticism (he did his own stunts, by the way). Other cast members also shine, Salma Hayek doing a commendable job of her first major Hollywood role. Quentin Tarantino also pops up (and back down again) in typical Tarantino style.
But lets not forget the other side of the disc. El Mariachi was what transformed Rodriguez from small-time director using family as cast and home-town as set to a big Hollywood name, now with the likes of From Dusk Till Dawn and The Faculty under his belt. El Mariachi is the precedent for Desperado, having a similar skeleton story and character that Desperado later picked up. The real achievement of Mariachi is it's budget. Just $7,000 was made to look like so much more, and the accompanying director's commentary of the film is full of money-saving techniques in movie-making.
The special features that come with El Mariachi / Desperado are worth mentioning. Both films come with a very good feature-length commentary by Rodriguez, a trailer and a ten minute making-of film. There are also music videos, biographies, a little booklet and even one of the director's early films. Overall, this is a great bundle, and both films are well worth seeing. Desperado has to be the better one, though, being newer and having a bigger budget, and I would recommend watching the second movie before El Mariachi.
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on 19 August 2003
this is a great box set which shows both great films. El Mariachi is very low budget but still an excellent film wheras Desperado with Antonio Banderras is more stylish and makes better use of effects and the bigger budget.
for fans of good thrillers this has it all, lots of shooting and good music, a must for all film fans
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on 2 December 2014
REVIEWED VERSION: 2011 Sony Pictures US Blu-Ray (Double Feature EL MARIACHI & DESPERADO)


Director: Robert Rodriguez

Cast: Carlos Gallardo, Consuelo Gómez, Reinol Martinez, Peter Marquardt


El Mariachi (Carlos Gallardo) is traveling through Mexico looking for a job playing the guitar, but with little success. One town he stops leads to the famous wrong time wrong place situation: Azul (Reinol Martinez), a killer carrying his guns in a guitar case, is on a rampage hunting down drug kingpin Mauricio's (Peter Marquardt) men. Unfortunately Mauricio's henchmen mistake El Mariachi for the killer, especially when his and Azul's guitar cases are switched. Poor Mariachi finds himself hunted not only by Mauricio's men, but also by Azul...


Given the ultra low budget it is quite amazing what Robert Rodriguez managed to create here. EL MARIACHI has a very Mexican small town feeling and atmosphere. It is a rough and dirty film and it is shot entirely in Spanish, which adds to the realism of the film, something lost in DESPERADO where most Mexicans speak English to each other.
Rodriguez goes a bit overboard with the slapstick/comedy for my taste (he always does), but the action scenes are well choreographed and the mainly Mexican actors are great, especially Peter Marquardt (R.I.P.) who made a superb villain in this movie.
Carlos Gallardo gives a decent performance as the Mariachi. He isn't yet the ruthless killer that Banderas' Mariachi in DESPERADO has become, which wouldn't have made any sense either, and he plays the musician as an innocent and vulnerable man which is suitable for EL MARIACHI.
Consuelo Gómez as the mariachi's love interest Domino does well, too. I actually liked her a lot. Reinol Martinez as Azul, well, he is OK. Not very menacing.
The story with the switched guns isn't quite new, but it works and is very entertaining. Not as good as DESPERADO, but definitely a good, independent movie and better than many high budget productions Hollywood produces.


- is a Spanish language film. The sequel DESPERADO was picked up by a Hollywood studio and is a mainly English language film, recasting the Mariachi with better known actor Antonio Banderas

- the budget was $ 7,000 but the film grossed $2,040,920


Feature running time: 81:28 mins. (uncut)
Rating: R (MPAA) / 15 (BBFC)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 / 16:9
Audio: Spanish DTS-HD MA 2.0, English DTS-HD MA 2.0, French DTS-HD MA 2.0
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, and Spanish
Extras: Audio Commentary, 10 Minute Film School Featurette (14:37), Student Film Bed Head (9:08), The El Mariachi / Desperado Cutting Room - Interactive Editing Feature, movieIQ, BD-Live
Region: Region Free

Picture quality: 3/5
Audio quality: 3/5
Extras: 3/5




Director: Robert Rodriguez

Cast: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Joaquim de Almeida, Cheech Marin, Steve Buscemi, Danny Trejo, Angel Aviles


El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) is back for revenge. After killing the man who killed his lover and maimed him in EL MARIACHI, he now goes after Mauricio's (Peter Marquardt) bosses, leaving a trail of blood behind as he hits one bar after another. His next target is a man named Bucho (Joaquim de Almeida). However when El Mariachi sees Bucho for the first time he discovers they have a past...


DESPERADO is one of my favorite films of the 90s. I like this kinda neo-western (or Mexican western) type. The action is top-notch, but unfortunately Rodriguez was held back by the MPAA, otherwise this could have featured some John Woo like heroic bloodshed. There is still plenty of bloody shootouts left in the film, but it's not what it could have been without the butcher's interference.
Just as EL MARIACHI, DESPERADO suffers from the same overdone slapstick humor. The movie would have been a lot better without any humor in my opinion.
This being a (US) studio film, the budget now is bigger and we get to see Hollywood "big name" actors. El Mariachi is now played superbly by Antonio Banderas. EXCELLENT choice, I can see no-one else as the Mariachi! His new love interest Carolina is played by Salma Hayek who works out pefectly as well. There is a good and believable chemistry here.
Baddie Bucho (Joaquim de Almeida) was a good choice, I just wonder what Raul Julia would have been like in this role - unfortunately it wasn't meant to be. Look out for Steve Buscemi, Cheech Marin and Quentin Tarantino in minor roles.
Rodriguez did a good job with the action choreography. The John Woo-like stunts are just so pleasing to watch and it is quite obvious that Woo had a huge influence on Rodriguez. Like I said earlier, the movie could have dumped some (a lot) of the humor for my taste, but even as it is, it works and is a highly entertaining shoot 'em up with a great larger-than-life hero and a bit of love story mixed in there.
The butchers at the MPAA had a field trip with DESPERADO, especially the final shootout at Bucho's mansion required so many cuts that Rodriguez decided to cut the entire scene by "fading out". The cuts were never restored and the R-rated version is the longest version available.
To me DESPERADO is the best Rodriguez movie up to date, I liked the final part of the Mariachi trilogy, ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO, but it is DESPERADO that is the trilogy's pinnacle and became a cult movie.


- while its predecessor cost only $ 7,000 dollars to make, DESPERADO cost $7 million. DESPERADO grossed a respectable $25,405,445

- Antonio Banderas performed all of his own guitar work, including the song "Cancion Del Mariachi" during the opening credits (he also sang).

- Raul Julia was cast as Bucho, but had to be replaced due to his declining health.

- Steve Buscemi's character's name is "Buscemi" because the part was written with him in mind.


Feature running time: 104:30 mins. (MPAA cuts)
Rating: R (MPAA) / 18 (BBFC)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 / 16:9
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, and Spanish
Extras: Audio Commentary, Anatomy of a Shootout Featurette (10:28), Music Videos: Los Lobos with Antonio Banderas - "Morena de Mi Corazón" (2:40), Tito & Tarantula - "Back to the House that Love Built" (4:04), The El Mariachi / Desperado Cutting Room - Interactive Editing Feature, movieIQ, BD-Live
Region: Region Free

Picture quality: 4/5
Audio quality: 4/5
Extras: 3/5

EL MARIACHI and DESPERADO come on one Blu-Ray disc. Needless to say that the ultra low budget EL MARIACHI looks nowhere near as good as the studio production DESPERADO. The first movie's picture is very grainy, while the latter's looks good but not great. It definitely is an improvement to the DVD.
The audio is alright in EL MARIACHI, in DESPERADO the DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless is on the verge of superb. Sony Pictures definitely puts forth more effort in squeezing the best quality out of the Blu-Ray version than Warner Bros.
The extras are OK - a few recycled extras from the previous EL MARIACHI/DESPERADO DVD Double Feature, overall nothing to get too excited about, but definitely worth watching.

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on 25 May 2003
El Mariachi, especially with the director's commentary, is a case study in low-budget movie making. It belies it's tiny price-tag and manitains a tension throughout. As a pairing with Desperado, this is excellent - El Mariachi fills in the background to the main character in Desperado.
Desperado itself has a surreal edge to it that works wonderfully, a good sense of humour and in Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayack a leading couple who spark off each other just enough. The film is sheer quality entertainment and the soundtrack is to die for - buy this, and you won't regret it.
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on 16 October 2003
...for fans of independant films. produced on a budget of $7,000 dollars in 7 days with one camera and people who had never acted before. in spite of all these it combines a good plot with good action scenes all shot with such style it looks like it must have cost way more than 10 times the price to make. if you dont like low budget films however steer clear of this film and go straight to desperado.
with banderas taking over as the main character the whole film goes up a level in terms of style and class but loses some of what made El Mariachi so damn good in the first place. links to Rodriguezes film From Dusk Till Dawn are apparent with the 'male organ' gun amongst banderases weapons.
so for the film enthusiast like myself El Mariachi is amazing and Desperado is quite good - for the casual film watcher El Mariachi may seen slow poorly acted and fairly short (about 76mins). the extras on both films are great with a wealth of different things such as a mini commentry by rodriguez on making a film cheap.
my only problem is the decision to make it a double sided disc rather than two discs. they are too easy to damage if viewed many times (as my copy is). well worth the low price though even for one of the films - my advice buy it...and buy another copy just in case something happens to your first.
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VINE VOICEon 7 February 2008
...and fun! Are these B films? I don't know, and I don't care. They display an enthusiasm and bravura (bravado?) rarely seen anymore in big-budget Hollywood and carry it off wonderfully. No deep meanings to be sought here -- there's a guy with a guitar, a girl with a dog, a rival, and gangsters all rolled together with cheap bars and motels thrown in in what begins as mistaken identity and ends in family blood somehow. You ignore the cheap sets and the occasional dodgy acting because you're too busy enjoying the films. Somehow "El Mariachi" and "Desperado" get the formula right.

Watch the one-on-one bar fight in "Desperado" -- is it the original inspiration for Neo and Agent Smith's mutual guns-to-the-head standoff?
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on 18 April 2005
A few years ago I watched 'Desperado' when it appeared on TV. At that time it was just another movie to me, but one that I really enjoyed. Then a few years later I became aware that 'Desperado' was actually a kind of half remake of this original low budget movie. When the movie starts you might well be thinking that this a dodgy, straight to video production but after a while you get into the swing of things. For myself as a filmmaker this was a truly inspiring movie. To see what you can do with an ant sized budget and a handful of people. The DVD extras are wicked too with a 10 minute gorilla guide to making films, a short programme about the cunning special effects and film tricks used in 'El Mariachi' and a copy of director Robert Rodriguez first short film which I think stars either his kids or nephews (they have the same surname). 'El Mariachi' may not be the best film in the world, due to some dodgy acting, but this can be forgiven to take into consideration the amount of money, time and creativity that went into creating this film without the help or backing of any film studio or distribution company. If you are interested in making films this would be one of those hidden gems worth checking out.
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on 14 May 2015
Two films together. One with a big try but less resources. Local stars but story was liked. Robert Rodriguez the director and writer of both films
get attention with story of killers and musicians guitar case. Desperado the otherfilm was more resourceful production and cast was much better.Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek are very convincing in the roles. Thou shooting takes most of the time but the story aboout Mariachi
and hsi woman is nice to watch.
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on 25 March 2013
Slightly confused. I bought this thinking that El Mariachi was a film of it own but it turned out to be a commentary on how they made it. But there didnt seem to be the option to play the movie when selected. It just did the commentary. However Desperado on the other side is a classic film well worth watching. So well done for that if nothing else. Product arrived on time and well packaged.
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on 2 December 2015
This man with no man style theme Mexico Texas style is awesome. Great shoot outs & fight scenes, Great Spanish musica , Salma Hayek is smoking hot!!!
El Mariachi the precursor to Desperado is good but not as great, it's more like a pilot movie. For me there is only Desperado & Once upon a time in Mexico with Antonio Banderas as El Mariachi and hopefully a third soon.
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