El Mariachi – Review (Spoiler Free)

El MariachiGreat action and an involving storyline, all on a shoestring budget

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.

Summary:

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.

Blast out your thoughts in the comment box below!

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10 comments

  1. Have you read Rodriguez’s book about the making of the film? It’s called Rebel Without A Crew and is a must for wannabe film makers I think (although the film industry is obviously rather different now).

    1. No I haven’t although I keep meaning to. A lot has changed, even things like YouTube have really changed the face of low budget filmmaking, but I still figure the book will be useful to read.

  2. sonea scissorhands · · Reply

    I enjoy Rodriguez’s work a lot (Sin City, Grindhouse, Desparado etc) but I hadn’t heard of this one. I feel it’ll be a movie I’d enjoy. Glad I came across your post to inform me too.

    1. Well actually this is the first in a trilogy with ‘Desperado’ and ‘Once Upon A Time in Mexico’ following on from it, so I would imagine you would enjoy it! It’s not even slightly as polished as Desperado, it is very very low budget after all, but I reckon you will want tot check it out if you liked that one.

  3. Good review Rumsey. Isn’t a great movie, however, it is deserving of a watch for wannabe, aspiring film-makers to see how it’s done, just by sheer originality and inspiration.

    1. Cheers Dan! Yeah it certainly is, and it’s not that bad of a movie either. It’s not a great one, but it’s surprising just how much it does hold my attention!

  4. I want to watch this film. I have heard it is a great action movie. I would agree with them! I saw the sequels and they were awesome! I’ll have tons of fun watching this movie! Great review!

    1. Thanks! It isn’t as polished as the sequels as it was made so very cheaply, but it is certainly worth a watch.
      Let me know how you get on with it!

  5. I remember watching this years ago when I watched a lot of Rodriguez work (nowadays not so much) and thought it was ok if you look at the budget.

    1. I think it is a decent enough film, made noteworthy only by its severe budget.

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