Anthony's Film Review
El Mariachi (1992)
For an independent film with a very small budget, Robert Rodriguez's directorial debut is quite impressive...
The 1992 action thriller movie El Mariachi had only a budget of $7,000. In fact, director Robert Rodriguez originally intended it to be only for a Spanish-speaking audience. Yet, Hollywood gave it a stamp of approval when Columbia Pictures stepped in to help with marketing and promotion. The reason is simple. Rodriguez, who did pretty much everything but star in the film, definitely focused on what all films should focus on, namely plot and character, not bells and whistles (in other words, explosions galore). As a result, El Mariachi definitely had a cross-cultural appeal.
The plot may not be epic or complicated, but it's still written well enough and easy to follow. The movie begins with a Mexican hitman named Azul (Reinol Martinez) who is out to kill other assassins hired by the drug kingpin Mauricio (Peter Marquardt), also known as Moco. Azul's motive is that he was also hired by Moco but is dissatisfied about not getting a fair share in payment. The conflict escalates as Moco hires his other killers to take out Azul.
Meanwhile, the nameless title character (played by Carlos Gallardo) enters the picture. He is walking down a highway (with a brief yet rather interesting sight of a small turtle crossing it) talking about how he is following the family footsteps of a traveling musician. El Mariachi enters a small Mexican town and soon finds himself being hunted by men with guns. He does not realize that he is being mistaken for Azul. Even though El Mariachi is a thin young guy and Azul is a more burly and dark-skinned guy, the mistaken identity occurs because both men wear black pants and carry guitar cases. However, the purpose of the cases are different. One holds a real guitar, while the other conceals deadly firearms.
El Mariachi gets himself further into this world of violence when he meets a barmaid named Domino (Consuelo Gomez). She is, in fact, Moco's girlfriend, but that doesn't stop her from falling for El Mariachi's charms. The moment this happens is rather funny. Domino gets ready to kill El Mariachi in a bathtub, thinking he is Azul. But when she discovers that his guitar case actually contains a guitar, she demands that he play it to see if he really is a musician. He strums his guitar and sings an impromptu song about being castrated by a lovely woman. Domino smiles and soon lowers her weapon.
The rest of the movie is just as engaging, as all of the characters come to realize that Azul and El Mariachi are being mistaken for each other. Even though the film's running time is roughly an hour and 20 minutes, there was not a single moment wasted, especially the final scenes that wrap up the story but leave it open for a sequel. Once the credits rolled, I was satisfied. I also thought about how other independent filmmakers should take a look at El Mariachi and see how much one can do with just $7,000. Because when it comes to doing a lot with a little, Robert Rodriguez seems to be a master at it.
For more information about El Mariachi, visit the Internet Movie Database.