Director Robert Rodriguez picks up where his successful independent debut El Mariachi left off with this slam-bang South of the Border action saga. Bucho (Joaquim DeAlmeida) is a wealthy but casually bloodthirsty drug kingpin who rules a seedy Mexican border town. Bucho and his men make the mistake of angering El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas), a former musician who now carries an arsenal in his guitar case. Bucho was responsible for the death of El Mariachi's girlfriend and put a bullet through his fretting hand, making him unable to play the guitar. Bent on revenge, the musician-turned-killing machine arrives in town to put Bucho out of business, though he finds few allies except for Carolina (Salma Hayek), who runs a bookstore that doesn't seem to attract many readers. Desperado features supporting performances from Cheech Marin as a cynical bartender, Steve Buscemi as the cantina patron who sets up the story, and Quentin Tarantino as a man with a really terrible joke to tell.
Give me the strength to be what I was, and forgive me for what I am.
Sinking us back into the gritty life of a tormented guitar player, Rodriguez sets the stage for an amazing film. This time, Antonio Banderas steps into the role of the troubled Mariachi as he continues his quest to rid Mexico of the corrupted drug lord that destroyed his life. Using friends like Steve Buscemi, he finds the town that is harboring his villain named Bucho. The Mariachi's form of questioning normally leads to several dead, a cinematic gun fight, and some classic Sergio Leone verbiage. Unfortunately, our hero does not escape unscathed and finds himself being healed by the likes of Carolina, a bookstore beauty played by Selma Hayek. Together they build a steamy relationship that will help our Mariachi reach his final destination.
As more gunfights, explosions, and blood rock this independent blockbuster, we soon discover a hidden secret about our hero, one that could change the course of his destination.
This was an impressive second outing by director Robert Rodriguez. While I was worried that Hollywood would have drained too much of his imagination, it was instead the direct opposite. Hollywood gave him the tools to build an amazing 'sequel'. While different, yet the similar to his independent feature 'El Mariachi', Rodriguez sets the stage for a roller coaster film that makes you hold your breath and pray for more. He has taken elements from his first film and expanded them to new levels. Banderas is perfect as our 'new' Mariachi and the chemistry between him and Selma Hayek cannot be contested. Banderas' ability to control this enraged man was spectacular. They worked as our two main focuses of this film. Coupled with some humorous moments with Steve Buscemi and Quentin Tarantino, this film successfully stood on its own two feet thanks not just to the action, but the actors in their respective roles.
Finally, Rodriguez is a genius behind the camera. He is able to give us exactly the right amount of action, drama, and comedy for our liking. He is the proverbial salad bar of cinema. While giving us this deeply rooted character hell-bent on destroying this drug lord, he also lets our imaginations wander with his comical and cartoonish action sequences. The scenes of men flying through the air after being shot are somewhat comical, yet completely Rodriguez. He has successfully created this world that is all uniquely his own. Rodriguez has done this by giving the world depth and outside characters. He builds suspense and also suspicion all at the same time.
Overall, an amazing film (in case you haven't noticed) that should be found in nearly everyone's film collection.
Grade: ***** out of *****
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