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DESPERADO, 1995
Movie Review

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DESPERADO MOVIE POSTER
DESPERADO, 1995
Movie Reviews

Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Antonio Bandarss, Salma Hayek, Joaquim de Almeida, Cheech Marin, Steve Buscemi, Quentin Tarantino
Review by Martyn Warren



SYNOPSIS:

With this sequel to his prize-winning independent previous film, "El Mariachi," director Robert Rodriquez joins the ranks of Sam Peckinpah and John Woo as a master of slick, glamorized ultra-violence. We pick up the story as a continuation of "El Mariachi," where an itinerant musician, looking for work, gets mistaken for a hitman and thereby entangled in a web of love, corruption, and death. This time, he is out to avenge the murder of his lover and the maiming of his fretting hand, which occurred at the end of the earlier movie. However, the plot is recapitulated, and again, a case of mistaken identity leads to a very high body count, involvement with a beautiful woman who works for the local drug lord, and finally, the inevitable face-to-face confrontation and bloody showdown.

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REVIEW:

After Columbian Pictures introduced Robert Rodriguezís El Mariachi (dir. Robert Rodriguez) to several American cinemas, the studio decided to distribute the directorís second instalment of The Mexican Trilogy, Desperado (dir. Robert Rodriguez). With a budget of $7,000,000, the famed director manages to pull off a spectacular looking action film with the same heart as the first film.

The story follows up from the first film, showing the new life of El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) as a weapons expert with the goal of killing every drug lord in each town and he wants to kill his latest target, Bucho (Joaquim de Almeida). While El Mariachi is trying to gain information on his whereabouts, he faces off against many challenges, including Buchoís men, the knife-throwing Navajas (Danny Trejo) and falls in love with Carolina (Salma Hayek).

With the filmís narrative made for fans of El Mariachi and for cinemagoers new to these films, it manages to pull off a film, with explanations through flashbacks of why the main character canít play his guitar anymore and lives to only kill the drug lords of each town in Mexico.

The first thing that they kept the same from the first of The Mexican Trilogy is the use of bright lighting. The lighting team in this film have made the interior shots match really well with the natural lighting from the outside, giving the impression that thereís a lot of heat and sunlight in Mexico. With the way the lighting is done, it also gives the actors and actresses more expression to detail by having dark make-up around their eyes so that their expressions seem more distinctive with the lighting used.

Another similarity they used in the film is the locations. To make the places look different, they simply decorated it with different props, painted the walls with different colours and having more extras walking through the streets. This is another great example from the crew because the town where Desperado is set in doesnít look identical to the town in El Mariachi, but it definitely had the same feeling of what a small Mexican town might be like to an unfamiliar audience.

The last thing I will mention about the similarities between the two films is the use of blood and guts for the gun shooting and knife throwing scenes. These effects are performed much better with the crew given a much higher budget to craft together great effects, appearing much gorier and realistic compared to the simple blood-filled condoms that was used in El Mariachi.

Using the same aspects from itís predecessor, Desperado also has itís own set of new features which polishes over El Mariachiís mistakes and made more appealing towards mainstream audiences.

Rather then using Carlos Gallardo to continue acting as El Mariachi, Antonio Banderas was chosen instead and he definitely helped to get the film more viewers since he is more popular then Gallardo, as well as having a very appealing face for female audiences. Salma Hayek as the lead female character was another great choice to have in the film, because she too would make people see this film due to her popular status and be very appealing for male audiences. The remaining actors managed to pull of brilliant performances for their roles, especially since most of them werenít professional actors.

Another new approach is how the story is told to appeal to western and mainstream cinema audiences. Though the story was made to follow up from the first film and to introduce new audience members, the fact the film had a higher budget from Los Hooligans Production meant that the filmís narrative had to appeal for the wider audience for profit gain. Even though this is an independent film overall, the fact that it was aiming to be alongside other mainstream action films is definitely an achievement in itís own right.

Since Rodriguez was the director, editor and done some of the camerawork with the director of photography, Guillermo Navarro, the famed director has shown much progress within the three years between El Mariachi and Desperado for his camera operating skills and manages to continue making a great film out of a limited budget.

The director and director of photography managed to both do a brilliant job with the way the shots were framed and how they used the different cameras to make each scene. The filming was used by a steady-camera and the regular film camera American films were making in the mid-nineties and the film has a very mainstream look about it and with the lenses used for the right shots as well, it made a very beautifully dark action film when it came to the final edit.

With Rodriguez in charge of the editing, his attempt on El Mariachi wasnít really up to scratch due to the simple problem that he didnít have enough shots to edit with. Itís also the fact that he had more shots to cut and edit with that we get to see more of how he likes to make his films, using fade-in and fade-out to transition from one set of characters to another doing the same action and made the film quick-paced with scenes containing flaring guns and long chases.

There are many other things I would love to talk about of the film, but I would unfortunately give quite a lot of information about the story and characters. So I will say the same thing I said at the end of the El Mariachi review: if youíre a film student, a fan of Rodriguezís work or just love action films, you should definitely try to see this film.

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