El Mariachi is Robert Rodriguez’s debut film, most famous for it’s microscopic budget of $7000 dollars. It reinvigorated low budget film makers, and revolutionised the understanding of what can be achieved on the cheap. However as easy as it is to get caught up in how the film’s success inspired this and changed that in the industry, what really matters is whether the film still holds up today; and in short, it does.
Yes you can tell that this was made cheaply; a number of the supporting actors aren’t altogether convincing and the feel of a low budget production is inescapable, however in many ways this is far better than most Hollywood action movies. The action and kinetic way in which the film is cut is beyond impressive. The film has its own style which never takes itself too seriously, and always looks for interesting ways in which to depict the action. There are touches borrowed from numerous sources such as Leone, and the plot is far from original, but none of that matters as El Mariachi is really just quite a lot of fun.
One of the films other notable achievements is how much we care for the lead characters. I put that mostly down to Consuelo Gómez’s performance; she rises above the words on the page, infusing the character of Domino with a depth and believability which wouldn’t have been present otherwise. This movie is never going to be described as an excellent example of cinema, but it does work well as a good example of an action film, and comes with additional interest points for anyone looking for inspiration when starting out in the business.
What is the film’s greatest strength? It’s style.
Its greatest weakness? The acting from many secondary characters.
Would I see it again? Yes. It’s more than just a curiosity piece.
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