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La Bamba
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Reviews & Ratings for
La Bamba More at IMDbPro »

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33 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

A terrific film about the importance of family and realizing your dreams.

9/10
Author: bunkerforever from Edison, NJ
9 April 2002

La Bamba which stars Lou Diamond Phillips as tragic 50's rocker Ritchie Valens(real name Richard Valenzuela) is my favorite rock bio film. The film covers the Mexican American Valens' rise from poverty in California to becoming a rock n roll superstar at the young age of 17 only to lose it all within 8 months on the "Day the Music Died".

In addition to focusing on Valens' music career, writer/director Luis Valdez spends time showing the tense relationship between Ritchie and his older brother Bob who is played excellently by Esai Morales. As Ritchie becomes famous Bob begins to resent him and that provides the film with some of its most powerful and heartbreaking scenes.

The film's other effective moments come between Ritchie and his girlfriend Donna. During their scenes together I felt that Valdez did a good job in showing what teenage romances must've been like back in the more innocent 1950's and how parents prejudices could interfere.

Last but not least is the film's great soundtrack. Ritchie Valens songs were redone for the film by the group Los Lobos. All of the instrumental music was provided by Carlos Santana and Miles Goodman. Also included are many other classic songs from the 50's.

The only small criticism I have of the film is that Valdez spends too much time in foreshadowing Valens' fate through dream sequences and references to his fear of flying. While it is documented that Ritchie did have a fear of flying I would imagine that he didn't talk about it as frequently as he does in the film.

Overall I think that La Bamba is a film about sticking to your dreams and the importance of family. I give this film a pretty strong recommendation. You don't even necessarily have to be a fan of 50's music to enjoy it. This is for those who enjoy small films that deal with the triumphs and struggles of everyday people.

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28 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Oh,what could have been

7/10
Author: SmileysWorld from United States
16 April 2002

Ritchie Valens was a young,vibrant rock and roll star.At 17,he could already write songs,sing,and was an absolute wizard with a guitar.I'm too young to remember the real Valens,but when I think of him,as well as other stars who died tragically young,I can't help but wonder what might have been.This young man was only getting started in his stardom when he was cut down all too soon in the same plane crash that claimed the lives of Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper.This film did a great job of bringing the legend of Valens back to life if only for a couple of hours.Lou Diamond Phillips gave the performance of his career here,as Valens,even though he didn't really look much like the real man in my opinion.Being the role he is best known for,I'm sure it is also one he has tried to escape from in the 15 years since its' release.As far as historical accuracy,I have heard discrepancies as to how the story really went,but you know Hollywood,things always have to be spiced up just a little.Overall,this movie is great fun,especially for old rock and roll enthusiasts such as myself.Thumbs up!

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35 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

My Favorite Movie

Author: valens-69 from New York
28 November 2002

One Summer afternoon back in 1996 i was 17 years old, I had a guitar but never played as much as i should have.

With nothing to do i was watching TV, and La Bamba came on and for whatever reason i decided to watch it.

I have heard of Ritchie Valens but knew nothing of him, i knew a few of his hit songs but never knew that was him singing till i watched the movie.

That summer day i watched La Bamba changed my life. The movie just reached out and touched something in my soul. I am a Rocker and love all kinds of Rock music. And that's one of the things i loved about La Bamba the great music.

I watched La Bamba everyday it would come on cable even bought the movie, even after that i would still watch it when ever it came on.

Every time i see it i fall in-love with the movie all over again.

And because of this film i play my guitar, and because of this film i have a dream of working in film as a Writer/Director.

The story is all about Ritchie Valens who is 17 years old and dreams of being a rock star. But there is so much more to it then that.

It's a story about family as well, and young love.

Lou Diamond Phillips who is a Fav actor of mine is amazing in La Bamba he shows how talented he is.

Esai Morales plays Ritchie's older brother Bob.

Esai Morales plays the troubled Bob with perfection.

The Casting is great Rosanna Desoto plays Connie Ritchie's Mother, Elizabeth Pena as Rosie Bob's wife.

Danielle Von Zerneck as Donna Ritchie's Girlfriend and the great Joe Pantoliano as Bob Keene who discovers Ritchie Valens and is his Producer/Manager.

Like i said there is more to the story then just Ritchie's dreams,What La Bamba comes down to is a story about Brothers.

In some ways i relate to Ritchie but at the same time i know how Bob feels being second best.

Writer/Director Luis Valdez does an amazing job. Thank you Mr.Valdez for the wonderful job.

Los Lobos perform most of the sound-track and perform all of Ritchie Valens songs.

Lou Diamond Phillips is amazing but Esai Morales is the stand-out with his performance.

I just wanna thank the cast and crew for the inspiration they have given me.

And of course the man himself Ritchie Valens R.I.P

La Bamba shows you that Dreams can in fact come true.

I give La Bamba 10/10

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25 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

A movie very dear to me

10/10
Author: Therod from WV, USA
31 July 2001

I must say I am very disappointed in the people slamming this movie. While they are certainly entitled to their opinion, I think if they watched the movie again without an open mind, they would come to love it as I have.

I can't even begin to describe the pure quality of this movie. Absorbing story, believable, sympathetic characters, pathos, bathos, all the makings of a thought-provoking movie. Personally, there are two quintessential rock and roll movies: "The Doors," and "La Bamba."

For a good cry and a good time, check out this movie. You don't even have to be a fan of Valens or a fan of 50's music to fall in love with it.

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20 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Bio of young 50's rocker Ritchie Valens

Author: dslacker (dslacker@tularosa.net) from New Mexico
9 April 1999

Under-rated melodrama with excellent music by Los Lobos and others. Young Lou Diamond Phillips gives an excellent energetic performance and Esi Morles is at his very best as the sometimes neglected hoodlum brother. A great cast from top to bottom saves what could have been an all too sudsy script.

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14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A Fairy Tale With a Tragic End

9/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
24 February 2004

Ritchie Valens (Lou Diamond Phillips) is a very poor Mexican-American living with his family in a slum in Paicoma, California. When he is sixteen years old, his half-brother Bob Morales (Esai Morales) is released from the jail and comes back home, bringing money enough for the family to move from the slums to a humble house in a better place. Ritchie goes to the nearby high-school, where he falls in love for Donna (Danielle von Zerneck). Donna, together with his mother Connie Valenzuela (Rosanna DeSoto), his family and his guitar, are the passions of Ritchie. Bob Keene (Joe Pantoliano), president of Del-Fi Records in Hollywood, invites Ritchie to record a single and offers him a recording contract. His first single (`Come On Let's Go') is a great success, and Bob Keene becomes Ritchie's manager. The next songs (`Donna' and `La Bamba') are also very successful and Ritchie Valens becomes famous, earning lots of money. While traveling making shows along USA, he decides to accept an invitation of Buddy Holly to fly back home. A tragic plane crash on 03 Feb 1959 ends the life of this promising seventeen years old singer, along with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. The dramatization of Ritchie Valens' life is presented like a soap-opera, full of beautiful songs, and it is very pleasant to watch this film. Lou Diamond Phillips has (maybe) his best performance as actor, but Esai Morales is wonderful as his big brother. The touching story looks like a fairy tale, having a tragic end. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): `La Bamba'

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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Great biopic of a musical legend

8/10
Author: Agent10 from Tucson, AZ
24 June 2002

The life and times of Richie Valens, and well made to say the least. Lou Diamond Phillips really showed a lot of promise in this film, but poor choices later in his career hurt his rep in Hollywood. Nonetheless, this film is quite an achievement in regards to portraying a rock idol (which was far better than the dull Buddy Holly Story). What really made this film was the relationship between Phillips and Esai Morales. Never has a brotherly dynamic been portrayed so fluidly, displaying the sweet and sour sides of the two growing up. With the help of a great soundtrack, I really felt this film has a spirit which isn't displayed in biographies anymore. Nowadays, most films try too hard to show the downside, which is what this tried not to do. 7.5/10

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14 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Esai Morales steals the show

9/10
Author: Riff98
6 July 2002

Esai Morales gives the best performance of his career in this 1987 movie about Hall of Fame rock and roller Ritchie Valens, who was tragically killed in a plane crash at the age of 17 with the big bopper and Buddy Holly on February 3, 1959. Morales plays Bob Morales, the half brother of Ritchie. Bob is a drunk who feels as if he is in the shadow of Ritchie due to Ritchie's musical talent and success. In fact if I didn't know better you might think the movie is about Bob. He was in the movie a ton. Lou Diamond Phillips does a good job of portraying Ritchie. I would definitely suggest that you watch this movie. It has a ton of great music and like I said before Morales is awesome in this movie.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

"La Bamba" is an excellent star vehicle for revealing late Ritchie Valens' musical genius

9/10
Author: FilmCriticLalitRao from Paris, France
8 January 2009

In the history of Hollywood cinema,musicals have always played an important role."La Bamba" is one of those rare,well made musicals which depict the cause of the rising popularity of Latino music.All credit for this film's success must go to its creators such as director Luis Valdez,famous musicians Carlos Santana and Los Lobos and amazing actors Esai Morales and Lou Diamond Philips who plays "once in a lifetime role" of a talented rock musician named Ritchie Valens who left for heavenly abode at a young age.This film provides for an interesting viewing experience as we get mesmerized by its diverse themes which range from family drama,gentle romance,sibling rivalry and soothing music.La Bamba has enough material in the form of social message too.We learn from this film that true brothers are always made for each other as they understand each other's joys and pains.It is said that talent never goes undetected.This is shown candidly as young Ritchie Valens succeeds only due to his natural ability to perform beautiful songs."La Bamba" is a film for all those admirers of good cinema who would like to see a musical film.

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11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Good movie

Author: DunnDeeDaGreat from Woodbridge, VA
25 October 2002

La Bamba is one of the movies that makes you feel good,cry and think about how life really is short. Lou Diamond Phillps was in top form as Richie Valens who never got the chance to show us what he could do. I'm not really a Rock & Roll fan but this is a good movie and one hat brings a tear every time I watch it.

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