Director Robert Rodriguez has come a long way from the humble beginnings of EL MARIACHI. Although the film is built on the standard action/revenge template, it made people take notice due to its quirky yet inventive directorial style, its distinct sabor Mexicano, and the fact that although rough around the edges, it looks pretty damn decent for a flick made under Ten grand.Carlos Gallardo is El Mariachi, a wandering musician who arrives in Ciudad Acuna with only the clothes on his back, the guitar in his case, and the goal of finding some kind of steady gig. He manages to find one in the bar owned by Domino (Consuelo Gomez), the inevitably doomed love interest - but not before becoming mixed up in the middle of a gang war between drug lord and all around bad guy Moco (all around bad actor Peter Marquardt), and his former associate Azul (Reinol Martinez), who's after Moco for some money owed. Azul likes to carry a guitar case full of weapons, and when Moco's men confuse El Mariachi with Azul, he finds himself forced to put down the guitar and pick up a gun to defend himself.
In a way, the unpolished look of El Mariachi and its players is what makes it so refreshing from the standard Hollywood action flick. Action scenes are handled deftly, as is the relationship between El and Domino. Yet Rodriguez frequently inserts his unique brand of humor and style to keep things just a bit off-kilter. Carlos Gallardo is quite serviceable in the role of the everyman who suddenly finds himself thrust into a life-or-death situation, and while Consuelo Gomez is no Salma Hayek, she probably gives the film's strongest performance.Not only did EL MARIACHI springboard Rodriguez's career, but it also laid the groundwork for one excellent sequel and a fairly solid third film. EL MARIACHI is nowhere near as extravagant as it's succesors, yet it remains a constant simple pleasure, best enjoyed with a shot of Patron and a cold Corona - "en botalla, huey!"