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El Mariachi (1993)

tomatometer

93

Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 27
Fresh: 25 | Rotten: 2

Made on a shoestring budget, El Mariachi's story is not new. However, the movie has so much energy that it's thoroughly enjoyable.

100

Average Rating: 7.6/10
Critic Reviews: 7
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 0

Made on a shoestring budget, El Mariachi's story is not new. However, the movie has so much energy that it's thoroughly enjoyable.

audience

76

liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 53,936

My Rating

Movie Info

Filmed in two weeks on a budget of 7,000 dollars, El Mariachi was one of the singular pleasures of the 1993-1994 movie season. Kind-spirited guitarist El Mariachi (Carlos M. Gallardo) simply wants to wander through life as his father and grandfather did, with a song in his heart and a smile on his lips. He wanders into a small mob-run town, guitar case in hand. It so happens that the local criminal element is awaiting the arrival of vicious hit man Azul (Reinol Martinez), who is well known for

Aug 26, 2003

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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Latest News on El Mariachi

August 21, 2014:
Robert Rodriguez's 10 Best Movies
Since breaking into Hollywood in 1992 with his low-budget masterpiece El Mariachi, Robert Rodriguez...
December 4, 2009:
Sundance 2010: RT's 10 Most Anticipated Movies
Five or six years ago, the Sundance Film Festival was more famous for showing dozens of worthy,...

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All Critics (27) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (25) | Rotten (2) | DVD (22)

Has a verve and cheekiness that's partly a smart wedding of such influences as Sergio Leone, George Miller and south-of-the-border noir.

November 12, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Juicy, adroit, and likable.

March 13, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Rodriguez goes for broke with a breakneck pace, swarms of bullets, cinematic tricks, and a tone as playful as it is knowing of genre conventions. The director's light touch is all his own; and this unpretentious offering delivers in all departments.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It goes without saying that Mr. Rodriguez, having made such a clever and inventive debut, is prepared for a big future of his own.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A gripping, tautly-paced action flick that outdoes most of Hollywood's similar output.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: ReelViews
ReelViews
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An enormously entertaining movie.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Despite its age, El Mariachi holds up remarkably well. The film's low budget (roughly $7,000, allegedly) actually helps build tension in the narrative - like you're watching something that's really happening.

January 16, 2011 Full Review Source: IGN DVD
IGN DVD

The unrelenting tempo is bolstered by Rodriguez's camera work and editing: nearly every frame seems to have been shot with a careening, handheld camera, and they're cut together in a skillful, fluid fashion that enhances the tension and pace.

March 13, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

No festival is true to its name if it doesn't display at least one discovery. In 1992 that spot was occupied by Robert Rodriguez, who made a charming actioner for $7,500; never mind that Columbia later invested $1 million for its theatrical release.

June 26, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

An endlessly inventive and charming zero-budget action movie.

July 8, 2005
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Brilliant low-budget filmmaking. Better than most action films with ten times the budget.

July 20, 2004
Needcoffee.com

Nowhere near as extravagant as its succesors, yet it remains a constant simple pleasure, best enjoyed with a shot of Patron and a cold Corona

February 21, 2004 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

Inspiring but misses a few cylinders

October 8, 2003

A silly adventure tale that would have failed even with a $200 million budget.

September 26, 2003 | Comments (5)

Has tons more charm than its star-studded, big-budget reprise, Desperado.

August 9, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

Arguably the most amazing film made in 1990s.

September 9, 2002 Full Review
rec.arts.movies.reviews

Low-budget filmmaking at its most clever.

August 5, 2002
Aisle Seat

Not exactly a monumental contribution to cinematic art, but it's a lot of fun.

January 9, 2002 Full Review Source: Movieline
Movieline

While the story may be a common one, Rodriguez, who wrote, produced, shot and edited the entire film himself, has a uniquely straightforward wit that makes what might otherwise have been just another shoot-'em-up something more than that.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

The energy that propels the action and the style and humor of the film and its players makes El Mariachi an entertaining ride.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Audience Reviews for El Mariachi

Robert Rodriguez's film debut is a good little action film that was made on a 7,000$ and showcases some pretty creative filmmaking skills. The plot is fairly simple, the acting is mediocre to decent, but you have to admire what you see on-screen. Rodriguez has flair in making something entertaining, and he delivers something truly good here with a low budget action flick about a musician who travels to a rundown crime ridden town. A notorious hit man also carries a guitar case, but he carries weapons, not a guitar. The craft and the effort that went into El Mariachi is superb, and I am surprised that were able to pull something like this with a shoestring budget. Fans of low budget films will surely enjoy this film, and it is among the most stunning debut features that I have seen. Robert Rodriguez is a great filmmaker, and we get a sense of what he would later accomplish in his career with this film. Acting wise, there's never anything great, and it is hard to tell what the characters say because the film is in Spanish with no subtitles. However the visuals are quite good and that's where the strength of the film lies. The film is definitely amateur in nature, but you have got to give Rodriguez the credit he deserves by making something truly original with such a meagre budget and subpar effects, which are quite good surprisingly. El Mariachi is a fun and entertaining low budget picture that proves that creativity can overcome constraints of working with dire methods. Robert Rodriguez has crafted something special here, and this is a film that is a must see and highly engaging picture that will certainly give action fans something different to watch.
April 14, 2013
TheDudeLebowski65
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

I liked it...It was good.....funny and action. And I think this no-named guy fits the part much better than Banderas. The rolling head scared the shit out of me though...
October 26, 2010
TheGame90
Martin Sahlin

Super Reviewer

"All I wanted was to be a mariachi, like my ancestors. But the city I thought would bring me luck brought only a curse."

A traveling mariachi is mistaken for a murderous criminal and must hide from a gang bent on killing him.

REVIEW
What could easily be viewed as just a simple B-movie turns into an impressive, action-packed independent feature from director Robert Rodriguez. It's the volatile, gripping story of a wandering guitarist who arrives in a small Mexican town looking for a big break, but unfortunately a case of mistaken identity makes him the target of the town's cold-blooded boss and his vile henchmen who are bent on killing him. Shot for a remarkable $7,000, and featuring a cast of newcomers and generally unknowns, this formidable little feature still packs a punch with violent, pumped-up action scenes and credible performances. Nothing ever truly breathtaking, but a respectable showing nonetheless.
August 10, 2010
LorenzoVonMatterhorn
Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

I am glad I finally saw this movie. It totally lives up to the hype. This is, without a doubt, one of the finest low-budget indie films of the past 25 years. The plot is relatively simple, and pretty straightforward, but Rodriguez makes it his own via innovation on a microbudget ($7,000), using imagination, natural skill, and a lot of luck. It amazes me that there were no seconds take with this film. The fact that it was done this way and successfully is a damn miracle. I love that this film didn't sell out and that the ending is what it is-it proved that right from the start that Rodriguez was a unique visionary with balls. Why it took me so long to see this, I do not know, but I heartily suggest that you do what I did and finally see this well-written, brilliantly directed and strongly acted masterpiece for yourselves.
April 23, 2010
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

    1. El Mariachi: [voiceover] All I wanted was to be a mariachi, like my ancestors. But the city I thought would bring me luck, brought only a curse. I lost my guitar, my hand, and her. With this injury, I may never play the guitar again. Without her, I have no love. But with the dog and the weapons, I'm prepared for the future.
    – Submitted by Nick S (2 years ago)
View all quotes (1)

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