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Desperado
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Desperado order
Director:
Robert Rodriguez

Actors:
Antonio Banderas
Joaquim de Almeida
Salma Hayek

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
This higher budget sequel to Rodriguez's EL MARIACHI stars Antonio Banderas as the gun-toting mariachi. Back in a small Mexican town and aiming for the local drug lord, he's helped by a pretty bookstore owner (Hayek) with a little story of her own. And that's much appreciated since he needs all the help he can get seeing as everyone in town is looking to bring this guitarista's little tune to an end.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Despite the thousand-fold increase in its filming budget, Rodriguez's sequel to the immensely successful indy film EL MARIACHI doesn't strike the same chord as its predecessor. Still endowed with great visuals and extremely cool angles, it lacks the simplicity and in-your-face feel that made the first one such a kick to watch. The lead character is also a lot leaner and meaner, which makes him a bit tougher to cheer for as opposed to when he was just a poor kid who wanted a job at a small town tavern. On its own though, DESPERADO is still a decent film to watch if you're in need of a movie that will supply you with a novel take on the loner gunman and satisfy most any craving for non-stop action and explosiveness.

Antonio Banderas was the only guy back in 1995 who could have taken over Carlos Gallardo's mantle as the guitar-case clad avenger and he did it quite well, managing to give the character big movie star appeal while preserving his humor and dangerousness. Working without a stunt double, Banderas also showed surprising ability when time came to engage in some pretty demanding physical play. It was cool of Rodriguez to stick in a really decent supporting cast as well, despite a budget of only about seven million bucks. Steve Buscemi is great in the role of... Buscemi, who serves up the intro to the film in his usual offbeat way and one of my favorites, Danny Trejo also appears as...what else: a badass! This guy can play a heavy in any movie and make it work and even though I'm not usually a big fan, I found Cheech Marin to be great in his turn as the local barkeep as well. Salma Hayek was her usual charming self as Carolina the Bookstore owner and Joaquim de Almeida provided a decent enough bad guy for the hero to play against.

DESPERADO remains a fun watch after almost eight years and that's chiefly due to Rodriguez's ability to establish balance between style and substance. Behind all of the explosions and gunfire, there is a story and a pretty interesting one at that. This is far from being a dumb shoot 'em up flick with no plot, although it does offer the eye-candy and loudness you would expect. The ladies also get the chance to see one of their favorites on screen without running the risk of getting into a catfight with his insanely jealous wife Melanie Griffith, so there's a little bit of everything for everyone to enjoy. Just make sure Melanie doesn't catch you watching this, you may end up with a few almost as many bumps and bruises as the bad guys who tried to take on El Mariachi.
THE EXTRAS
There's isn't really anything that will blow your socks off on this DVD, but the basics are delivered quite well, starting with a full-length audio commentary with director Robert Rodriguez. Once again, Rodriguez goes into substantial detail regarding the matter of his relatively small budget and in the tricks he used to stretch it as best he could. It does get redundant after a little while, but at least it's substance and you don't have to sit through a director telling you how great everyone was on set.

Next up is a little lesson by Rodriguez about the way he constructed the wild shootout sequence that makes up the film's intro and opening credits. Ten More Minutes: Anatomy of a Shootout goes into a pretty decent explanation of that scene. From storyboards to rehearsals to filming, the shootout is deconstructed in an informative an entertaining way.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
The same Sneak Peak at ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO that was found on the EL MARIACHI DVD is also included here and features stars talking about the film. Aside from that, Trailers and Filmographies are thrown in. FINAL DIAGNOSIS The DVD is decent and the film is entertaining, but neither is unique enough to warrant a footrace to the Ye Olde DVD Shoppe. DESPERADO is at least worth a rental though, especially if you like EL MARIACHI, although it does manage to stand on its own as well. The doctor is in and he prescribes a rental.
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