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Overall Rating

Worth A Look37.14%
Average: 15.71%
Pretty Bad: 5.71%
Total Crap: 4.29%

3 reviews, 52 user ratings

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by Rob Gonsalves

"Rodriguez gives the mariachi more money and bang-bang."
4 stars

The bad guys have a lot of guns. So does the good guy. The bad guys outnumber the good guy, but the good guy is a better shot. Bang, bang, you're dead.

In Desperado, the cheerfully meaningless action movie from Robert Rodriguez, Antonio Banderas arrives in town with a guitar case crammed with instruments of death. Flashbacks tell us that Banderas was once a mariachi who ran afoul of criminals who mistook him for an escaped convict; though this film is a self-contained story, it's a sequel to Rodriguez' 1993 El Mariachi, the famous $7,000 little-movie-that-could, starring Carlos Gallardo as the hero. Taking over the role, Banderas has been given back the fingers blown off at the end of the original; now he just has a bullet wound preventing him from playing the guitar. It does not, however, dissuade him from pulling the trigger. Repeatedly.

Desperado was made for $7 million, a three-zero upgrade of the original budget but still a pittance by today's Hollywood standards, and needless to say, it has more bang for the buck than any other movie this summer. Rodriguez is the first to admit he isn't much of a screenwriter, but as a director he has a kinetic genius that makes up for his narrative obviousness. When Banderas is pinned to the floor by a bad guy, he drives his feet up into the pachuco's chest and launches him into the air, then empties his guns into the guy, prolonging his flight. Banderas dispatches another guy by shooting a ceiling fan, which crashes down onto the guy's head; in a later shot, the still-whirring fan keeps smacking the unconscious guy in the face. Within Rodriguez' pulp formula stories are little pockets of ingenuity.

On the evidence of his two features to date (excluding his enjoyable made-for-cable J.D. homage Roadracers, which suggests a gift for comedy), Rodriguez, unlike his contemporary and friend Quentin Tarantino, isn't especially interested in toying with the narrative and themes of action cinema -- he's happy enough just working in the genre, and his happiness is infectious. (Try to think of any other action film of the last five years that had any lift or sense of play.) Rodriguez' films are all about proving something: El Mariachi proved that a 24-year-old with no crew could make an exciting and professional-looking movie for four digits, and this movie proves he can piss with the big dogs while staying within the territory he's marked for himself.

Desperado is resolutely derivative but also breathlessly athletic and violently witty. If you're attuned to it, you won't much mind the plot, which just goes from point A to point B. Playing the battle-scarred hunk, Banderas could have given a sullen, blank performance, but he comes across as soulful and gentle in almost any role, and he's worth whatever Rodriguez didn't spend on squibs and explosions.

Steve Buscemi (playing a barfly called, hilariously, Buscemi) and Cheech Marin are terrific in their few scenes; Quentin, fast becoming the Michael Caine of indie cinema, tells an endless piss joke and gets blown away. Will someone please advise this man to stay behind the camera?

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originally posted: 01/12/07 13:33:39
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User Comments

9/16/13 Hellbilly Deluxe Shoot em ups galore, splatter fest, los lobos and a steamy sex scene make this a winner 5 stars
11/09/11 Jeff Wilder Script weak. But well directed. Rodriguez knows how to make an action film. 3 stars
3/25/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess Great sequel 5 stars
5/08/09 Dane Youssef Fun contemporary homage western made by Mexicans. All style and nearly nothing else. 4 stars
10/29/07 Hester Hign energy fun pretty much sums it up 4 stars
10/15/07 fools♫gold Dandy. I won't watch it again. 4 stars
10/02/07 Double M it's no Godfather, but 5 stars for the opening, style, fun, coolness, OTT action, STYLE.. 5 stars
7/08/07 al smith fantastic film.salma hayek jesus what a fucking body 5 stars
5/26/06 William Goss A surprisingly entertaining gem. May not be great, but sure is fun. 4 stars
8/18/05 ES pretty over the top, not great 2 stars
8/12/05 Bryan a great movie then they went and fucked it up with Once upon a time in MX 5 stars
6/14/05 Agent Sands Incredibly lightweight and entertaining. This is Rodriguez at a high point. 4 stars
3/28/05 indrid cold Juicy, stylish action. But that's not enough to make a great movie. 4 stars
3/13/05 Kristina Williams When Salma causes the car crash, it still makes me smile. 5 stars
2/23/05 malcolm to reviewer Chris Parry: Desperado is a sequel to, not a remake of Mariachi 4 stars
2/21/04 Denise Duspiva Hot 5 stars
11/25/03 homer J. Simpson holy shit,it had everyhting you could ask for, ,nice guns and nice tits and some more tits 5 stars
11/08/03 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) Now that I've seen Once Upon A Time In Mexico, this is Rodriguez's 2nd best. 5 stars
9/13/03 Nicole Never saw the original, but liked this well enough 4 stars
9/08/03 R.W. Welch Has some pizzaz to it but goes absurdist at times. A near miss. 3 stars
8/14/03 Mr. Hat Vladimir stop impersonating me! This is Rodriguez's best, 1 I can watch many times in a row 5 stars
5/17/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back Mo'Fos!) HILARIOUSLY & OVERWHELMINGLY dumb, but funny and star-studded. 4 stars
1/30/03 Ingo Well, "El Mariachi" is better - but this reincarnation is also quite good. 4 stars
1/03/03 Jim Basically a big long shootout, but then I like those. 4 stars
7/12/02 KMG Buscemi is funny, Banderas is sexy, Cheech is crazy 4 stars
6/14/02 malcolm a blast!!! 4 stars
3/18/02 yankisalpeo esta peli es un asco y vosotros unos cabrones 1 stars
3/12/02 Alan Smithee Once you get past the awe and drool inspiring Salma Hayek, this movie is pretty hollow. 2 stars
10/15/01 Mr. Hat One of Quentin's most badass movies! 4 stars
8/29/01 Gary Watchable. Whenever Hayek's on, that is. 3 stars
5/05/01 Gracy Lionheart The film just wasn't that good. It was pointless, dumb, and boring. 2 stars
1/21/01 fifu bad plot, just a old action movie, more teh top some times, scense were done well though 2 stars
1/08/01 Painful Days "If you dont treat me good, I wont ask you out!" I love this movie! 5 stars
11/14/00 The EVIL Penguin good, but kinda boring 3 stars
9/20/00 paddy doyle total shit kicking madness 5 stars
3/21/00 Laura guys with hispanic accents. it's all good 5 stars
10/26/99 Karahde Khan Self-ripoff. Rodriguez's own Escape from LA. I'm still looking for the plot... 1 stars
9/23/99 Matt Blood, Guts, Guns, Naked Girl, and one Bad ass Dude. Enough Said! 5 stars
6/10/99 Homer J. Simpson this movie kicks all ass 5 stars
6/04/99 Matthew Bartley V.enjoyable but I kind of lost interest after Steve Buscemi died 4 stars
5/10/99 Ah Dooey Badass (awesome) movie. Definitely worth a look. 4 stars
4/20/99 Tim Selma Hayek is the bomb. This movie rules. You all should see this 4 stars
4/15/99 Jon Jackson It's cool baby. Mariachi was slow anyway. 4 stars
4/12/99 Alonzo ( a little slow at first, it picks up when salma hayek's character comes in the picture 5 stars
3/20/99 the DUDE very fucking great-I loved this movie and fuck all you who hated- motherfuckers 5 stars
1/12/99 TNT "This movie isn't just a thrill ride, its a rocket!" 5 stars
11/13/98 Lord Of The Dunce Banderas has some presence when he's not talking. A great film, but El Mariachi was better. 4 stars
10/24/98 Timmy C Salma Hayek naked. Nuff said. 5 stars
10/23/98 Negative Creep They should make movies like this every day. 5 stars
10/20/98 Johny Well directed,, high-energy fun 4 stars
10/20/98 {{{OZ}}} The beauty of the first was how they did so much for little. Here they did little for much. 3 stars
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