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  Desperado A Man Walks Into A Bar...
Year: 1995
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Stars: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Joaquim de Almeida, Cheech Marin, Steve Buscemi, Carlos Goméz, Quentin Tarantino, Tito Larriva, Angel Aviles, Danny Trejo, Abraham Verduzco, Carlos Gallardo, Albert Michel Jr, David Alvarado, Angela Lanza, Enrique Iglesias
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: A man (Steve Buscemi) walks into a bar, goes up to the bartender (Cheech Marin) and asks for a beer, which he gets. It sounds like the start of a joke, but it's actually very serious as becomes clear when the man begins to talk, in spite of nobody much wanting to hear what he's saying. He spins a yarn which tells of a Mexican (Antonio Banderas) who also walked into a bar, not too far away from this one, and with his grudge against the men there he drew pistols and began firing at them, blowing various evildoers away with pinpoint accuarcy. Think on that, says the customer to the bar in general...

Desperado was the follow up to director Robert Rodriguez's ultra-low budget cult hit El Mariachi, where it looked for all the world as if the studio had said to him, "More of the same, please, but more expensive" which is essentially what you got, except this time the novelty had worn off somewhat. There were still those who responded warmly to the well-choreographed mayhem Rodriguez concocted, but others were wondering if he was a one trick pony when of course he was a two trick pony, alternating between his action-packed flicks for the grown-ups and the more juvenile kids movies, both of which to be fair he had a very singular way with.

Back in 1995, however, he was demonstrating his talent by keeping that budget fairly low for a high profile project, not as meagre as his initial foray but nevertheless cheap and cheerful compared to your average Banderas movie. The star was evidently enjoying himself in what was basically a cross between a "stranger walks into town" Western and a Hong Kong shoot 'em up, carrying off both the kinetic scenes and the ones where he had to display soulful personality with flair. The trouble was not what its critics accused Desperado of, that it was simply wall to wall gunfire and explosions, it was the business in between which endeavoured to lend some significance to the exploits.

If you thought the action sequences were flashy but shallow, then the dramatics were shallow and not even flashy, where the hero (a man with no name, natch) tries to make a connection with a little kid who plays guitar as he does, and more importantly his love interest, a bookshop owner Carolina, essayed by Salma Hayek in her breakthrough role. Salma matched Antonio for putting a spark into the characterisation, but it was all performance and nothing to do with the script. As too often with action movies, in particular those of the eighties and nineties, anything trying to add to the nuts and bolts of the most straightforward storytelling was doomed to fall flat as there wasn't enough human interest conveyed to the audience who wanted to watch stuff blow up real good.

Therefore our Mariachi protagonist is seeking to avenge the death of his lover at the hands of local drugs baron Bucho (Joaquim de Almeida), a man with an army at his disposal (well, not literally) which once he gets wind of the stranger wanting to bump him off deploys his "troops" to stop him in his tracks. This was diverting enough, but from the first ten minutes on whatever happens is meaningless outwith the moment, it was all about the instant sensation, and already Rodriguez was displaying his liking for stunt casting with Buscemi (apparently as himself) and Marin adding personality but little else and an appearance by Quentin Tarantino to all intents and purposes because Quentin thought it would be fun to show up in the movie. As if the director was still finding his feet, Desperado illustrated more of his weaknesses than strengths, but if you liked those strengths he did exhibit, they were enough to get by with this. Music by Los Lobos.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Robert Rodriguez  (1968 - )

Hip, hard-working American film maker, a former cartoonist, who directs, produces, writes and edits most of his movies. El Mariachi worked wonders on a tiny budget, and since then he's made Desperado, the only good segment of Four Rooms, gangster/vampire horror From Dusk Till Dawn, teen sci-fi The Faculty, kiddie adventure quartet Spy Kids, Spy Kids 2, Spy Kids 3-D and Spy Kids 4-D, semi-sequel Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Frank Miller adaptation Sin City (which gained a sequel nine years later). He next teamed up with Quentin Tarantino for double feature Grindhouse, and although it flopped it did spur him to beef up the fake trailer Machete, featuring the Danny Trejo character from the Spy Kids movies, a sequel Machete Kills following soon after. James Cameron gave him Alita: Battle Angel to play with, but the results muffled his flair.

 
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