Worth A Look: 37.14%
Pretty Bad: 5.71%
Total Crap: 4.29%
3 reviews, 52 user ratings
by Chris Parry
Can you imagine remaking Clerks with a big budget? would it be better or would it lose something with good lighting, a large crew, celebrity cameos and a big ass camera with a qualified operator?Some films are fun to watch because they amaze you at how much was acheived for so little. Clerks, Six String Samurai, Chasing Amy, Love And Other Catastrophes, Cube and El Mariachi for example. But of all those movies, big box office or no, nobody would attempt to remake any of them. They just wouldn't do the original justice.
"Did they seriously think they'd improve it? Or was it all greed?"
Well, all bar one. Robert Rodriguez, for some reason, decided to allow his $3700 debut feature, El Mariachi, to be remade with a bigger budget. Perhaps it escaped him that the primary reason Mariachi was so acclaimed was because it had no budget to speak of. Perhaps it was just the cash factor.
Whatever the reasoning behind it, Desperado was a flawed concept from the start. Rodriguez not directing it himself was a bad way to start. Allowing Quentin Tarantino to yammer his way through the opening scenes was an embarrassing follow up.
Fortunately, all that stinks is not shit. Desperado is not an awful film in itself. It's just an awful shame to denigrate the original in such fashion.
The story goes - a mariachi musician is travelling looking for work. He's fuck out of luck when he is mistaken for an assassin with a Mariachi case full of guns and finds himself on the run from local heavies. The local drug lord wants our boy dead, and also wants our boy's new gal as his own. Much gunplay ensues, much heroics via Banderas follows, much action and Mexican music fills it all in. It's no story of genius, it's just a decent action spray.
Antonio Banderas does play a cool Mexican hero. He has the look, he has the authority, he has the accent and he doesn't sing (well, he mimes and someone else sings, but it's not like in Evita where you're forced to listen to him sing like he has a mouth full of mashed potatoes).
The rest of the cast is a mixed bag. Salma Hayek as Banderas' love interest is amply present to fill the role provided. Steve Buscemi is just kind of there and sticks out like a sore thumb, Tarantino is posing and primping for his fifteen minutes of monthly fame, also sticking out like he's waving a "look at me" flag, however Cheech Marin (who is present any time Hollywood goes to Mexico) is fine and dandy as the ratty barman.
But it's really all about Banderas kicking freckle and fighting to clear his name.
Sadly, as always is the case with big budget remakes, they can't leave well enough alone. Where Mariachi was real and gritty, Desperado get's stupid and unreal. The ending is a major let down (or was for me, anyway) as it becomes almost superhero time.
The movie is very watchable, even enjoyable, but it hurts me to view it because of the intentions behind it.
El Mariachi will live on in my mind as a classic in indie film, proof that it can be done by anyone. But Desperado will live on in my mind as proof that everyone who touches a Hollywood dollar comes away with a black mark on their hands.And then Rodriguez did Four Rooms. Are there no heroes left?
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originally posted: 11/15/98 23:53:55