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Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)

R  |   |  Action, Thriller  |  12 September 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 124,096 users   Metascore: 56/100
Reviews: 472 user | 177 critic | 34 from Metacritic.com

Hitman "El Mariachi" becomes involved in international espionage involving a psychotic CIA agent and a corrupt Mexican general.


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3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gerardo Vigil ...
El Presidente (as Pedro Armendariz)
Tito Larriva ...
Cab Driver


In the third movie of Rodriguez's "Mariachi" trilogy, a Mexican drug lord pretends to overthrow the Mexican government, and is connected to a corrupt CIA agent who at that time, demands retribution from his worst enemy to carry out the drug lord's uprising against the government. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Time Has Come.


Action | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

| |  »




Release Date:

12 September 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El Mariachi 3  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$29,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$23,424,118 (USA) (12 September 2003)


$3,112,845 (Japan) (2 April 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


There are several scenes that were leftover from El mariachi (1992) and Desperado (1995). The hotel escape was originally intended for Desperado, and the escape from the compound (while guarded in a jail cell) was included in the original script for El Mariachi. See more »


Bullet holes are missing from the roof of the bus when El Mariachi and Carolina run across it, just before it collides with the tanker truck. See more »


[first lines]
Agent Sands: I never heard of him.
Belini: Who?
Agent Sands: The man you recommended.
Belini: The guitar fighter?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The guard who talks about how he was tortured once is listed as "Left Nut" in the credits. See more »


Featured in El Mariachi: 10 Years Later (2003) See more »


La Chongeada
Written and Performed by Banda San José
Under license from Cabaret Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Over-the-top, Even more so than the first 2 films
5 May 2008 | by See all my reviews

First there was "El Mariachi", an over-the-top, low-budget, fun film. Then there was "Desperado", an even more over-the-top, higher-budget, fun film. Now, there's "Once Upon a Time In Mexico", a ridiculously over-the-top, high-budget fun film.

The plot here is very knotted and confusing, but still very good. As far as I can figure, it is about a man who has ruined El Mariachi's life, General Marquez, and his plan to kill the president. An FBI Agent is out to stop him, so he hires El Mariachi and various other people.

Now for the cast: all were excellent.

Antonio Banderas made a thrilling return as El Mariachi. Salma Hayek also makes a fun return as Carolina. Johnnny Depp plays a funny, interesting, and colorful Agent Sands, the FBI agent who hires El Mariachi. Danny Trejo was great as Cucuy, Sands' tail on El Mariachi. Cheech Marin was fitting for the part of Belini, the informant who gives Sands his intel. Ruben Blades was EXCELLENT as Jorge Ramirez, the retired FBI agent brought back to the force by Sands (unofficially anyway). El Mariachi's friends, Lorenzo (Enrique Iglesias), and Fideo (Marco Leonardi) were interesting. Eva Mendes was even not-terrible as the agent Ajedrez. Pedro Armendáriz Jr. gave a decent performance as the president. And Julio Oscar Mechoso was good as the president's adviser.

Now for the bad guys: Willem Dafoe gives a very evil performance as Barillo, who hired Marquez to kill the president. Mickey Rourke was extraordinary as Billy Chambers, Barillo's right-hand man. Gerardo Vigil was great as General Marquez as well.

The special effects here were 1st rate and came in handy a lot. There were many good action scenes and the comedy was well placed and funny.

The music score was decent also.

Over all, fans of "El Mariachi" and "Desperado" will enjoy "Once Upon a Time in Mexico"


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