Yesterday I watched Robert Rodriguez’s ‘Mexican Trilogy’ in it’s entirety and was thoroughly impressed by the adventures of gunslinger ‘El Mariachi’


El Mariachi (1992)

The film begins with perhaps one of the most famous low-budgets films ever. A feature film made for $7000 never sounds like its going to be entertaining; but this film breaks all the rules and is truly enjoyable.


The film is a typical fast paced action film about mistaken identity. A mariachi singer (Carlos Gallardo) is mistaken for an escaped murderer – who carries around a guitar case full of guns. The Mariachi henceforth ends up becoming the action hero and taking on a Mexican cartel with the help of new lover.

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Whilst the story is a little obvious, and the quality of the film is a little low from a technical standing; the film makes up for that in the bucketload by using highly interesting characters and perfectly paced action scenes. Personally I often find that action films (particularly more recent ones) are edited too fast to know what is going on – El Mariachi avoid this and whilst it is fast-paced and edited with quick cuts there is always time to enjoy what’s going on.

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The film also has moments of great comedy – mainly coming from bumbling enemies running around and shooting each other. These moments counteract the action well and allow for some great dramatic moments towards the climax.


A true testament to extreme low-budget filmmaking El Mariachi is hugely enjoyable and a definite watch.


Story – 3/5

Style – 4/5

Technical – 2/5

Enjoyment – 4/5

Total: 13/20 = 6/10


Desperado (1995)

The second instalment of the trilogy comes with an obviously higher budget. Carlos Gallardo and the other no-name actors have been replaced by a classier cast including Anthony Banderas (as El Mariachi), Steve Buscemi and Salma Hayek.

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The higher budget also allows for better scripting, a better story, better effects and overall a better film. Whilst embracing the budget the higher quality does not take away the style and mood from the original film. The jokes are a similar tone and the action sequences whilst a little more extravagant (a bar shoot-out that looks incredible) still maintain a similar level of enjoyment.

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The performances that the better cast are able to provide however make the main difference – in El Mariachi you half-cared for the characters – whereas in Depserado you become intent on seeing Antonio Banderas get his revenge.


The film also contains a small cameo from Quentin Tarantino in what I would say is his best performance.

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Story – 4/5

Style – 4/5

Technical – 3/5

Enjoyment – 4/5

Total – 15/20 = 7/10


Once Upon A Time in Mexico (2003)

The final part in the trilogy perhaps proved to be the most disappointing. Again you can instantly tell that the budget has been raised primarily due to the cast who have once more been improved. Antonio Banderas remains on but added to the line-up are stars such as Johnny Depp and Willem Dafoe.

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However I think this film becomes a case of having too much money; Johnny Depp playing a psychotic CIA agent is too over-the-top and also complicates the story. Whereas the original two films had fairly simple plots – mistaken identity and revenge – this film is much more complicated with more characters and twists and turns, the film is no longer about a Mariachi singer, but more political with talks of arrests and politics dominating.


The film also takes both the action and comedy sequences too far, for example a scene with Antonio Banderas hanging from a hotel window whilst changed to Salma Hayek seems completely bizarre and irrelevant – it is the type of scene you expect in a Hollywood action-comedy and that’s a real shame. The comedy also tries to hard with Johnny Depp’s character in particular hunting for jokes.

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The film is over-inflated and has lost the element of fun of the other two in a way that is sad as I believe it to be Hollywood money and interference that topples it.


Story – 2/5

Style – 3/5

Technical – 3/5

Enjoyment – 2/5

Total – 10/20 = 5/10


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The trilogy is on the whole enjoyable and seemingly follows the pattern set by Sam Raimi in that the first film is truly original; the second film is fantastic and the third is a big-budgeted disappointment.


Total score for the trilogy = 6/10.