EL MARIACHI: While earning room and board for a song, a down-on-his-luck musician gets into deep hot water when he's mistaken for a guitar-case-toting hitman in a small Mexican town. EL MARIACHI was produced by do-it-yourself Austin, Texas auteur Robert Rodriguez (FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, SPY KIDS) on a shoestring budget for the Mexican video market, but ultimately earned a major studio release. Winner of the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.
DESPERADO: The unnamed Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) tracks down the last Mexican drug-lord "Bucho" with the help of his best friend and a beautiful book store owner (Salma Hayek). In a poetically violent style reminiscent of John Woo and Sam Peckinpah, the Mariachi takes on his entire army of henchmen in a dusty border town as an act of revenge for his injured musician's hand and the murder of his love. Robert Rodriguez's big budget sequel to EL MARIACHI also stars Cheech Marin (of Cheech and Chong) and Steve Buscemi (RESERVOIR DOGS).
ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO: With ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO, filmmaker Robert Rodriguez follows the further adventures of El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas), the guitar-playing, gunslinging hero who has been leading a quiet life, but longs to get revenge for the murder of his love (Salma Hayek). When quirky CIA agent Sands (Johnny Depp) taps El Mariachi for a special assignment, he comes out with pistols blazing. Soon, a retired FBI agent (Ruben Blades), a drug kingpin (Willem Dafoe), a criminal on the run (Mickey Rourke), and a double-dealing federale (Eva Mendes) are all in on the action, which involves a plot to kill the Mexican president and shift the balance of power in Mexico.
Handling the writing, direction, cinematography, and just about everything else, Rodriguez has crafted a tribute to the spaghetti Western films of Sergio Leone by placing his outlaw hero from DESPERADO and EL MARIACHI in an epic setting populated by numerous characters. Although it can be challenging to keep track of the unfolding subplots, the scenes involving Depp's badly dressed secret agent are the most intriguing and entertaining. Meanwhile Banderas eases back into the lead as the vengeful Mariachi, and Hayek and Blades make the most of their small but significant roles.