In 1995, Robert Rodriguez would release the second movie in what would become known as his “Mexico Trilogy.” This movie would be Rodrigues big Hollywood debut feature and really put his mark onto what he could do. This movie also made Antonio Banderas a star in the U.S. as well as showed the audience what a bad ass Danny Trejo can be. I remember going to see this movie with some friends in college and we all enjoyed watching it. So here is today’s movie, Desperado.
The plot: In Santa Cecilia, Mexico, an American named Buscemi walks into a bar and orders a beer then proceeds to tell the bartender and the men in the bar about how he witnessed a man with a guitar case full of guns killing the men in a bar in another town. Nobody pays attention to the story until Buscemi mentions the name Bucho, at which point the bartender and Tavo, a man seated at the bar, start asking Buscemi more questions but Buscemi doesn’t stay around as he warns the patrons that the man is heading in this direction. Buscemi leaves the bar, then heads to a motel in another town, where he meets with El Mariachi and tells him that Bucho is in Santa Cecilia. El Mariachi asks where to go and Buscemi tells him to head to Tarasco Bar, then tells El Mariachi that he doesn’t have the stomach for this anymore and leaves, while El Mariachi gets ready and starts walking to Santa Cecilia. Meanwhile, the bartender at Tarasco Bar calls Bucho and tells him that he hasn’t heard from the bar that Buscemi had told them about. Bucho hangs up and orders his right hand man to double the guard around their operations, then oversees a fight for a prospective new member to the gang. In Santa Cecilia, a strange man twirling a throwing knife arrives in town and after looking at the bar, he proceeds to use a nearby pay phone. Meanwhile, El Mariachi arrives in town and rests across the street from the bar. As he is sitting there, a young boy tries to look at his guitar but El Mariachi stops him, then seeing the guitar the boy is carrying, he teaches the boy a technique and tells the boy to practice it. Inside the bar, two men had walked in and hand cards to the bartender, who slides them to Tavo to have them checked out. After getting off the phone, Tavo makes a gesture and the bartender kills one of the men but says the other one checked out, and Tavo leads him into a hidden room inside the men’s room. When El Mariachi walks in the bar, the bartender questions him about what is in the guitar case and has one of his men point a gun at El Mariachi while another one opens it, revealing a guitar. The bartender relaxes but suddenly, the guitar is revealed to be a false top that hides the guns. El Mariachi says he doesn’t want to kill anyone, as he is just looking for Bucho, but when the bar patrons start pulling out guns, he is forced to kill them all in self defense. While this is going on, Tavo sees it on a TV in the back room and as the accountant goes to join the fight, he kills the man that he brought into the room. El Mariachi kills all of the men in the bar, then starts to question the bartender but the bartender is shot by the accountant and after brief fight, El Mariachi kills him. El Mariachi leaves the bar, unaware that Tavo is following him, and as Tavo tries to kill him, El Mariachi fights him off and kills Tavo, saving a woman named Carolina, who was caught in the crossfire. Bucho shows up at the bar and finds a note that El Mariachi left, saying he is looking for Bucho, and tells his right hand man to kill anyone that they don’t recognize in town. As some of his men are cleaning up the carnage in the bar, the kife wielding man, who is called Navajas, walks in, looks at the mess, then leaves. Carolina takes El Mariachi to her bookstore, where she tends to his wounds, then she sees the guns in the guitar case and says she knows who he is but she can’t help him. El Mariachi heads to the church and meets with Buscemi and the two get into an argument when El Mariachi won’t give up his hunt for Bucho and Buscemi leaves the church. El Mariachi chases after him and says that Buscemi is right and he will give up but suddenly, they are attacked by Navajas, who kills Buscemi and wounds El Mariachi. As El Mariachi is hiding in an alley, Bucho’s men see Navajas and end up killing him, believing he is the one that killed the men at the bar. However, Bucho had received a call from the cartel and was told that Navajas was there to keep an eye on his operations. As El Mariachi makes his way back to Carolina’s bookstore, he sees Nino, the boy with the guitar, and learns that Nino’s father uses his guitar to smuggle drugs and that Carolina also does it. Reaching the bookstore, El Mariachi questions Carolina and she admits that Bucho gives her money in order to use her store as a drop off. When Bucho suddenly shows up, Carolina hides El Mariachi then lies to Bucho when he asks if she has seen him. Later, Carolina tends to El Mariachi’s wounds then shows him the guitar she bought him and the two work together to play it before then end up having sex. Meanwhile, Bucho believes that Carolina lied to him and is hiding El Mariachi so he sends his men to the bookstore to kill them. El Mariachi sees the men approaching and manages to kill them but as he and Carolina are leaving, they see the bookstore is on fire and are forced to go to the roof and jump to the nearby building to escape. As they are hiding, Carolina sees Bucho and points him out to El Mariachi but as he takes aim at Bucho, he hesitates and refuses to shoot him, which confuses Carolina. Realizing they have no chance to escape without help, El Mariachi calls in two friends, Campa and Quino, who arrive in town with their custom weaponized guitar cases. Bucho’s men show up and attack the three men but they are able to fend them off. Suddenly, reinforcements show up and Quino is killed, causing Campa to act recklessly. El Mariachi tries to get him under control but when he sees Nino lying on the ground from a bullet wound, he goes to check on the boy, and Campa is killed. Carolina steals a jeep and picks up El Mariachi and they take Nino to the hospital. Later, El Mariachi and Carolina head to Bucho’s place, where Bucho recognizes El Mariachi as his little brother. The two talk and Bucho says he will let his brother live but he will kill Carolina for betraying him but as he points his gun at Carolina, El Mariachi kills him as well as the rest of Bucho’s men. Later, they visit Nino at the hospital and then El Mariachi leaves town but Carolina picks him up and El Mariachi throws the guitar case away as they drive off but then they back up and he picks it back up, in case they need it.
Desperado was met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, but only holds a 62% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many critics praised the action sequences and visual aspects of the film, but said the story itself felt flat. Most of the music in the movie was performed by Los Lobos, who won a Grammy at the 1995 Grammy awards for their song “Mariachi Suite” off of the soundtrack. The movie was a box office hit as it made over $25 million off a $7 million budget.
This is one of those movies that is fun to watch. The acting was pretty good, with Antonio Banderas doing a good job taking over the role of El Mariachi and giving the character a slightly darker edge as opposed to the more innocent look that Carlos Gallardo did in El Mariachi. I did think it was funny that Carlos had a cameo as Campa in this movie. Salma Hayek (Carolina), Joaquim de Almeida (Bucho), Steve Buscemi (Buscemi), and Danny Trejo (Navajas) were all also good in there roles. The story did seem a little weak compared to the previous movie, not really saying much as to how much time passed or what happened to El Mariachi to make him hunt Bucho, making it seem more like a continuation of the first film. The fight and action scenes were very well done and made for some visually entertaining movie watching, though at times they did seem a bit over the top. All in all, it’s a good movie and a good follow up, but I wish there was a bit more to the plot.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5