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Desperado (1995)

by on 2011/06/24

“What is the number to the phone in my car?”

* * * *

Hacker Renders says some people think that a real western can’t have a car in it. It is a rule. But I really wanted to watch Desperado this week, so I’m reviewing it for our western month.

I have a problem with rules.

With that out of the way, I want to get something off my chest that’s been bothering me for years. I saw El Mariachi, Robert Rodriguez’ low-budget breakthrough film.

I did not like El Mariachi.

I’m not proud of myself. But couldn’t make myself like it no matter how hard I tried.

Sure, I admired the accomplishment, the DIY-ness of it. But admiration did not equal love.

There. I feel better admitting that.

Then came Desperado. This film got it right. No, that’s not enough. Desperado shot it into the stratosphere, to a vantage point where Desperado can look down imperiously on other action movies and laugh like a disdainful god.

Desperado is a work of genius, crafted from fire, blood, bullets and piss-warm Chango.

Antonio Banderas as El Mariachi is iconic. Salma Hayek (Cirque du Freak- The Vampire’s Assistant) as the bookstore owner Carolina is a goddess. The two of them on the screen create a beauty so dazzling that it can perform laser eye surgery. (Warning: May not actually perform laser eye surgery).

The fight scenes are clever and inventive. I could probably watch Danny Trejo take the crew in the armoured limo a 100 times and never get bored. Trejo is like a demon of some kind in this movie. I’ve never forget when I first saw him.

Steve Buscemi (Trees Lounge) and Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs) are entertaining as comedic foils, telling bar tall tales. Joaquim de Almeida as the erratic crime boss Bucho is geniunely scary.

The scene where El Mariachi calls his friends into town is another scene I can’t forget. Missile launcher in a guitar case anyone? “Bless me father for I have just killed quite a few men.”

Robert Rodriguez has created many things that I love. From Dust Till Dawn. Predators (2010). I even liked the Spy Kids series.

Sometimes I think that when Rodriguez has too little money and no one to answer to, some misjudgments and miscues appear in his films. They are exuberant, well-meaning errors …but they impact the overall quality of the work.

Then I think that when he has too much money and no one to answer to, some miscues and misjudgments also appear in his work. Johnny Depp in Once Upon A Time in Mexico and his electric-tape-looking eye-gouges, par exemple.

Desperado gets it just right. In fact, perfect. Absolutely perfect.

* * * *

104 minutes

Rated R

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