But when El Mariachi crossed the border in 1992, things changed. Granted, it still involved a drug lord in a shoot-em-up but this time the good guy was a Mexican.
Austin-based Rodriguez made El Mariachi for a fistful of pesos and a little help from his friends. He wrote, directed, coproduced, edited and operated the camera. Plus, he assembled a cast that had never acted before to work por nada.
Desperado continues the outrageous action adventure. Working with a much bigger budget, Rodriguez returns the nameless mariachi to non-stop action. Again thrust into a world he never made, the hero takes his guitar-case arsenal deep into the criminal labyrinth of Bucho (Joaquim de Almeida), el gran chingon of the Mexican drug lords. With an amigo (Steve Buscemi) and a beautiful bookstore owner (Salma Hayek), el mariachi confronts an outrageous cast along the way, including a bartender (Cheech Marin), a drug-deal, pick-up guy (Quentin Tarantino) and the original mariachi (coproducer Carlos Gallardo) as a new-found compa'.
Antonio Banderas has the lead this time, and if he's not quite up to the challenge, it's probably because he's Spanish, not Mexican, a distinction not lost by anyone raised on what the popular media now calls "ethnic food."
That said, Desperado is not to be missed. Using intelligence, romance and humour--as well as plenty of explosive, surreal violence--Rodriguez again showcases the timeless struggle between the forces of darkness and light. And, in the process, he's recasting the mould for the contemporary action hero--kids now argue about who gets to play the Mexican. --Stephan Magcosta, Amazon.com