Entirely filmed in Spanish, EL MARIACHI features tons of non-actors, most of whom happened to be friends and relations of the filmmakers, local townsfolk and various and sundry other characters. As the two main guitar case carriers, Carlos Gallardo (whose guitar case contains a guitar) and Reinol Martinez (whose guitar case contains an assortment of guns) couldn't have been better. Gallardo, as the sensitive Mariachi trying to figure out why he's being chased by men with guns is particularly disarming, especially in the ease with which he changes from a mild guitarist to a tough-as-nails fighter to defend himself. Martinez, as the gun-toting gangster, is also quite effective, especially when you consider that he's not even an actor, but rather a 19-year old medical student. Most of the laughs come courtesy of a plaid-shirted henchman who tries his best during the entire film to get rid of the man with the guitar case.
I recommend this film to those interested in a quick thrill that's definitely unique nowadays. Rodriguez makes the most of his limited funds and delivers an exciting film that captures the attention and doesn't let go until the end. Clocking in at under 90 minutes, it also requires a minimal investment in terms of time, especially important if you feel like watching a low-budget films can end up being a waste of your time. By now though, this one has well made its reputation and for those who've missed it...now is as good a time as any.
To complement that commentary, Rodriguez offers another short featurette entitled "10-Minute Film School" in which he explains his method for shooting films on no budget and shares some tips regarding time and money-saving shortcuts. Using real footage from the film, he walks you through a scene explaining how he made his money look much better than it actually was. Pretty interesting. You can see some results of his work in the next feature, a short film entitled "Bedhead" in which an a-hole brother torments his little sister and gets his ass kicked once she gains psychic powers. Pretty funny and only a few minutes long.
For all those drooling with impatience, you'll also find a 5-minute long sneak peak at the upcoming ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO with a few comments from some of the stars as well as trailers to all films of the "Mariachi Trilogy".