A new guitar player (Gallardo) comes to town to play his music but is somehow mistaken for a hitman, another recent arrival. The mariachi then stumbles across the local bar and in turn the beautiful bar-owner, who takes him in, unaware the gangsters are after the wrong man.
A then twenty-four-year-old Robert Rodriguez's (Sin City, From Dusk Til Dawn) amazingly assured feature debut cost a mind-blowingly minuscule $7,000 to make but is more than just an example of brilliance over no budget. Using the well-worn theme of mistaken identity, writer-director-producer-editor-cameraman Rodriguez has here crafted an action flick infinitely more exciting than many a film costing ten thousand times as much, transcending its budgetary limitations with wonderful ingenuity, invention and sassy wit.
A lone, black-clad guitar player the eponymous mariachi arrives at a Mexican border town looking for employment and is mistaken for a similarly attired hitman whose own identical guitar case contains a semi-automatic arsenal. There, the mariachi falls for a beautiful bar owner who takes him in, unaware of the inevitably tragic and explosive consequences of her actions.
Shamelessly derivative Mad Max, The Terminator, the Coen Brothers, you name it this, much like Sam Raimi's Evil Dead, has an exhilarating rawness that works for, rather than against it, its kinetic pacing, visceral editing and bravura camerawork revealing the presence of a director with unbridled visual panache. A minor masterpiece.
With Rodriguez at the helm, being shot on a tiny budget was never going to stop El Mariachi setting the screen alight. At the beginning of his trilogy, Rodriguez was at his peak, with guns a blazing, paving the way for the more mainstream Desperado and unsatisfying Once Upon A Time In Mexico.