El Mariachi


El Mariachi

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 28


Audience Score

User Ratings: 54,713
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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 carrying his weapons in...a guitar case. Just when you think you've got a lock on what's going to happen next, director Robert Rodriguez throws us for a loop, unexpectedly alternating whimsical comedy with graphic violence. Rodriguez later retooled the plot of El Mariachi for his far more expensive (and far less satisfying) Antonio Banderas vehicle Desperado (1995). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


Carlos Gallardo
as El Mariachi
Ramiro Gómez
as Cantinero
Jesús Lopez Cobos
as Viejo Clerk
Luis Baró
as Domino's Assistant
Oscar Fabila
as The Boy
Poncho Ramon
as Azul's Rat
María Castillo
as Jail Guard
Manuel Acosta
as Bodyguard
Walter Vargas
as Prisoner
Virgen Delgado
as Female Bodyguard
Juanita Vargas
as Female Bodyguard
Yolanda Puga
as Female Bodyguard
Alfredo Cisneros
as Keyboardist
Alejandro Peña
as Pifia/Loco
Clara Scott
as Moco's Manicurist
Fermin Barron
as School Bus Driver
as Pit Bull
Tito Tortuga
as La Tortuga
Jaime Rodriguez
as Moco's Man
Luis Cadena
as Moco's Man
Gerardo Jaquez
as Moco's Man
Mario Mata
as Moco's Man
Daniel Delgado
as Moco's Man
Rosendo Ortiz
as Moco's Man
Cesar Cadena
as Moco's Man
Robert Santoyo
as Moco's Man
Sabas Perez
as Moco's Man
Guadencio Martin
as Moco's Man
Juan García
as Moco's Man
Maximo Martin
as Moco's Man
Difonso Quezada
as Moco's Man
Manuel Vejor
as Moco's Man
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News & Interviews for El Mariachi

Critic Reviews for El Mariachi

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (2)

  • 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.

    Nov 12, 2008

    Todd McCarthy

    Top Critic
  • Juicy, adroit, and likable.

    Mar 13, 2007 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top 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 | Rating: 4/5
  • An enormously entertaining movie.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Watching his film, you can feel the sheer joy that went into its creation.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for El Mariachi

  • Jul 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.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 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.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Jun 11, 2012
    El Mariachi was a cheap corny Spanish speaking action which there are hundreds of other films like. But for some reason this is considered a modern day classic. The $7,000 budget gave exactly what you'd expect for a movie with that budget. I'm glad that this brought Rodriguezes career up because hes accomplished a lot, but I just don't understand how this got him there.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Sep 15, 2011
    I actually had to do a presentation for my Spanish class on Robert Rodriguez in which I talked quite a bit about the El Mariachi/Desperado/Once Upon a Time in Mexico trilogy. As a result, I had pretty high hopes for this, and considering I'm generally not a fan of foreign films, there was a lot riding against El Mariachi. Yet, it was surprisingly good, even when considered as a standalone film. I love the juxtaposition of the protagonist's sole desire to be a mariachi at the beginning and at the end of the film. He's so innocent at the beginning, before he mistakenly gets caught up in the drug war that has poisoned the town, and at the end, he realizes that even though part of him still wants to be a mariachi, too much has changed for this to be the sole part of reality. He's an outlaw now, a Desperado, if you will (setting up the second film). I'm really looking forward to seeing Desperado now, and I'm probably going to rewatch Once Upon a Time in Mexico...I'll probably enjoy it more now that I'll know the characters better.
    Stephen S Super Reviewer

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