"Movie Magazine International" Review -- Air Date: Week Of 8/23/95

By John A. Lavin

Independent filmmaker Robert Rodriguez hit the big time with his first feature, "El Mariachi" a shoestring budgeted film that Rodriguez funded by volunteering for medical experimentation. "El Mariachi" has garnered a cult following since its 1992 release, and Rodriguez has been given a whole lot more money to play with by the good folks at Columbia Pictures. All of which brings us to "Desperado", the sequel to "El Mariachi" and Robert Rodriguez' attempt at making a modern day western.

Whereas "El Mariachi" featured unknown, mostly normal looking Mexican actors in a story about a guitar player's transformation into a gun-toting hero, "Desperado" features two of the most beautiful Hispanic actors the screen has ever seen. Latin heartthrob Antonio Banderas stars as the Mariachi, who has now become a legend to the Mexican underworld. They have all heard the tales about a guitar player who carries an arsenal in his guitar case, and who wreaks a horrible vengence on all drug dealers. As he moves from town to town, the Mariachi kills whole cantinas filled with the nastiest criminals Mexico can offer. Along the way, he wrestles with his conscience, and seeks the aid of his best friend, Buscemi, played of course, by whiney actor extraordinaire, Steve Buscemi.

When the Mariachi enters the final town on his quest to kill Bucho, the last of the kingpin Mexican drug dealers, he takes part in a series of spectacular gun battles in which he faces down ten men at a time. When he's injured, he's saved by one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the big screen. Salma Hayek plays the beautiful bookstore owner who saves the Mariachi, and she's so good looking that she almost seems unreal. She's definitely the kind of woman that could make a blind man wish he was deaf.

So, we watch as the lovely couple mows down the bad guys while the Los Lobos soundtrack booms in the background, and as the drug dealers all swear and rant about killing that damn Mariachi! Meanwhile, famous figures like Quentin Tarantino and Cheech Marin pop up, adding color to a movie that's more about style than substance.

What strikes me the most about this thoroughly entertaining, albiet pretty shallow film, is the fact that Hong Kong action film genius John Woo has featured his action hero, Chow Yun Fat in movies JUST LIKE THIS over the last ten years. But hey, that's okay. There's always enough room for another slick, well-acted action movie.

Copyright 1995 John A. Lavin

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