El Mariachi – South of the Border week

This is South of the Border week. We will be featuring movies taking place in Mexico. El Mariachi is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: El Mariachi (1992) – Rated R for adult content, adult language, and graphic violence.

“When guitar player El Mariachi (Carlos Gallardo) arrives in a small Mexican town, drug lord Moco (Peter Marquardt) mistakes him for Azul (Reinol Martinez), an assassin who carries a trademark guitar case full of guns. Now he must elude Mocos henchmen, who plan to shoot first and ask questions later. First-time indie filmmaker Robert Rodriguez famously made the wildly popular gritty crime drama on a $7,000 budget.”

“I came across a turtle. I realized we were both taking our time getting to where we were going but what I did not know was that my time was running out.”

This is the first feature film by one of my favorite directors, Robert Rodriguez. Prior to this he had made a cute short, Bedhead, that can be viewed on Youtube.

When you are working on a $7,000 budget, you have to wear a lot of hats. Robert Rodriguez is not only the director, producer and writer of El Mariachi but also the cinematographer, film editor, sound editor, music editor, camera operator and special effects man.

Carlos Gallardo is not only the star (the titular Mariachi) but also producer, unit production manager, dolly grip, and special effects man.

Rodriguez makes excellent use of several rundown locations, particularly the jail sequence in the beginning of the film. I also liked some of the flavor like the man chopping ice with a machete.

The Professionals (yesterday) seemed a bit of a cheat as none of the heroes were Mexican, the lead villain was not played by a Mexican and it was not filmed in Mexico. El Mariachi not only takes place and is shot in Mexico but almost everyone working on the film is Mexican.

This is the dubbed version of the film. Robert Rodriguez stated that Columbia spent more on the dubbing than he did on the entire film.

The acting is good but not great. The charm is in the story itself and the rapid-fire pace that Rodriguez keeps up.

I highly recommend this fun low-budget film. The counting gag alone makes the movie. For that matter so does the bathtub confrontation.

People Watch: Carlos Gallardo appears in the semi-remake/semi-sequel Desperado as Campo.