Desperado Review

El Mariachi was a musician who had a woman he loved, when she was killed and he was maimed by criminals. Now he carries a guitar case full of weapons and comes to a new town in search of those responsible. But a few barroom brawls later, it becomes clear that it won't be that easy.

by Bob McCabe |
Published on
Release Date:

09 Feb 1996

Running Time:

100 minutes



Original Title:


Bigger, better, faster; Desperado is a spiritual, and spirited remake of director Rodriguez's $7,000 El Mariachi, proof positive that throwing millions of dollars at what was by itself something of a small budget gem can actually result in a better movie.

It's not the smartest career move for a director's second film to be a scene-by-scene remake of his first, but with Rodriguez it's clearly a declaration of intent. Not content with the relatively small audience that saw his Spanish language original, he decided to take what Hollywood was only too keen to give him and recast his movie as a High Plains Drifter for the post-Tarantino audience.

The plot is straightforward enough. The mysterious Mariachi (this time played to the hilt by Banderas), wanders into town with a guitar case and vengeance in his heart. His entrance is preceded by that of the perennially weasel-like Steve Buscemi, busily recounting a tale from the original movie. The Eastwood-like Mariachi is out to get the big cheese drug lord, willing to blow away everyone and everything in his path to get it.

What really counts, though, is Rodriguez's assured abilities. This is Peckinpah crossed with John Woo on speed, full of souped up action pieces that defy anything even approaching credibility in their wanton lust for pure cinematic destruction, but more than make-up for it in Rodriguez's skilful editing and delicately perverse sense of humour. And it's not just action - it's hard to imagine anyone of any sexual persuasion or inclination not finding something to fantasise over in the eventual coupling of Banderas and the luscious Hayek.

It's big, it's daft, but Desperado is confident and hugely entertaining filmmaking.
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