El Mariachi - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

El Mariachi Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 13, 2013
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.
Super Reviewer
October 26, 2010
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...
Super Reviewer
½ August 14, 2009
"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.

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.
Super Reviewer
July 24, 2006
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.
Super Reviewer
½ January 7, 2009
You could say that El Mariachi has low production quality, or you could say that it has a raw, rough-cut edginess. Either way, Robert Rodriguez was honing his craft in preparation for great things to come.

Gritty and violent with a few brief flashes of brilliance.
Super Reviewer
½ November 26, 2009
A great movie and probably the most serious Robert Rodriguez has ever gotten. It isn't all fun and games, but a ruthless revenge tale full of carnage and destruction. While the acting isn't quite up to par with the later films in the trilogy, it is perhaps the best in terms of film making and originality.
Super Reviewer
May 24, 2009
Watched it for a Spanish class. Not nearly as bloody as its sequels, but then again they were shot better.
Super Reviewer
November 26, 2006
A wandering musician is mistaken for a a gun toting killer with a grudge and finds himself caught between two warring drug gangs. To say Robert Rodriguez' breakthrough film was an achievement is an understatement; this rates alongside Evil Dead as one of the great victories of mind over money. I have pairs of trainers that look more expensive than this! The photography is a little cheap looking (though no worse than say, Mad Max), the acting rather amateurish and you do seem to spend a lot of the time watching people running around the same streets. Made for $7,000 and every shot done in one take, the constraints of the budget are obvious, but the director's invention still manages to shine through. At only 80 minutes it has a nice no frills approach but like Evil Dead, it is completely out shined by the director's own big budget re-invention, Desperado. Well worth a look though, especially for Rodriguez fans and anyone interested in independent cinema.
Super Reviewer
½ October 19, 2008
Ultra-cheap prequel to Desperado, filmed in a small Mexican town in their native language. The low budget makes it seem more real in some ways, though in a cheesy way. It's not only a must see if you'd like to know how the El Mariachi character came about, but it's also a very good gangster flick in its own right.
Super Reviewer
January 13, 2007
A very good film about an assassin down in Mexico.
Super Reviewer
September 2, 2008
This movie put director Robert Rodriguez "on the map." He followed up with two sequels: "Desperado" and "Once Upon A Time In Mexico." Not surprising, the best of the three was this low-budget opening film. As Rodriguez had more and more money to spend on the sequels, the stories got more and more carried away with too many explosions and special-effects, losing the charm of this first effort.

Unlike the sequels, this Mexican-made, so it is in Spanish with English subtitles. Don't let that scare you away. There isn't a great deal of dialog so keeping up with the subtitles is very easy.

The movie has very interesting camera closeups and angles as Rodriquez showed he was going to be a stylish director. The story is simple but effective, suspenseful and even with some humor. Unnlike his subsequent films in this trilogy, the action is not overdone here.

The length is also is a plus. At 80 minutes you can be thoroughly entertained in less than an hour-and-a half. The only disappointment to me was the print quality on th DVD, but I got an early edition. There might be better editions out since. It's not fuzzy but it's not sharp, either.

Anyway: highly recommend for actions/crime buffs who like style in their photography, or saw the sequels and would like to know the history of this particular "Mariachi."
Super Reviewer
March 28, 2007
Admirable for the achievement under the circumstances.
Super Reviewer
December 24, 2007
Fun action film. More interesting to know what it took to get the film made. Very impressive.
Super Reviewer
½ June 25, 2007
I must be the only one who can't pass the ham-fisted dialogues and actors. Not to mention that the whole fast editing of the scenes is not really clever, but quite bad and repetitive. Another proof that not all cult flicks always deserve the cult they get. And goes without saying that Rodriguez is a frigging hack. How thisguy has been able to make a career as a movie director is a mistery.
Super Reviewer
May 30, 2006
El Mariachi: All I wanted was to be a mariachi, like my ancestors.

Making a $7000 movie look really good never seemed so cool. Robert Rodriguez's breakthrough film, and the beginning of his Mariachi Trilogy.

The story is very straight forward. A man arrives in town with hopes of finding work as a Mariachi. Meanwhile, a man with a guitar case full of weapons is in the same town looking to kill a drug lord and his minions. Both the Mariachi and the Killer become mistaken for one another, and action ensues.

Everything is super low budget, at a reported $7000, but it's fun. It's a good way to show things to come from Rodriguez. He shows from the beginning that he knows how to make an action movie. Complete with speed-ups, inventive action scenes, and other ways to make a cheap and fast paced action flick.

It also helps that there are fun characters at play, along with some good music, and some Mexican authenticity.

Good stuff.

El Mariachi: Free coconuts, I was already starting to like this town.
Super Reviewer
March 16, 2007
A magnificent movie pleasure. Slick, fast-paced and totally engaging. A gripping, exciting and wildly fun action adventure. Robert Rodriquez creates an extroadinary indepent feature thats a great achievement. This is what great independint filmmaking is all about. What a great movie. This film is worth it. Stylish, brilliant, cool and extroadinary. One unforgettable flick.
Super Reviewer
January 29, 2007
It isn't really a great movie, but it's inspiring on a number of levels, especially considering the budget of the film.

I wish Carlos Gallardo had reprised his role as the Mariachi in the sequel. He has a lot of charm, and Antonio Banderas has always been pretty flat to me. :\

Besides his and the leading lady's performances, the acting is pretty much the pits, especially the main villain's. Ouch.
Super Reviewer
October 23, 2006
Not a bad Spanish action.
Super Reviewer
½ July 13, 2013
The indie film El Mariachi marked the debut of writer/director Robert Rodriguez. The style is very raw and messy, yet Rodriguez shows some talent for storytelling. When a traveling mariachi falls victim to a case of mistaken identity he finds himself being pursued by a local cartel. Unfortunately, the acting's extremely bad and detracts from the film. Yet despite its amateurness, El Mariachi has some good action and an interesting style of filmmaking.
Super Reviewer
April 22, 2011
An impressive directorial debut for Robert Rodriguez, made even more amazing by its' $7,000 budget.
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