El Mariachi
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Year: 1992
TRT: 1:21

While being a movie made with practically no budget, no big-name actors, and being dubbed in english (and kinda poorly, at that), there's still a style to this film that makes it alright. It's a pretty rough ride for the casual viewer, but nice to see that Columbia didn't totally bury this when they optioned a studio-produced "americanized" update which we know as Despardo, and will be followed shortly by the third installment Once Upon a Time in Mexico.

A mariachi with little more than the clothes on his back and a guitar in hand comes to a new town, hoping to find a job doing what he loves. Unfortunately times are tight and there's not much demand for his talents. On top of that, he gets caught up in a case of mistaken identity with a local killer who carries around his weapons in a guitar case. But at least he does happen to find true love in the process.

Between the bad acting and technical issues, I would normally give a film like this a lower rating. But it is an impressive first film by Rodriguez on a non-existent budget ($7,000 US) and a decent turn in telling a classic tale of love & revenge. It's shot with style, substance, and a bit of humor. And if you want more insight into the film and guerilla-style film-making in general, pick up his book Rebel Without a Crew which details the production and the hell it was. Ah, good times, good times.

Great Scene: A one-man mariachi band.

DVD Notes: None, saw it on VHS. Apparently in anticipation of the third movie coming out, Columbia is capitalizing on it by re-releasing the first two as "special editions" on August 26, 2003. Considering how his book plays out, I wouldn't mind picking these up for the director's commentaries alone.