El Mariachi (1993)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic 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.

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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
Rating:
R
Genre:
Action & Adventure , Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Cast

Carlos Gallardo
as El Mariachi
Jamie de Hoyos
as Bigoton
Ramiro Gómez
as Cantinero
Jesús Lopez Cobos
as Viejo Clerk
Jaime DeHoyos
as Bigoton
Luis Baró
as Domino's Assistant
Oscar Fabila
as The Boy
María Castillo
as Jail Guard
Poncho Ramon
as Azul's Rat
Fernando Martínez
as Azul's Rat
Manuel Acosta
as Bodyguard
Walter Vargas
as Prisoner
Roberto Martinez
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
H.B.
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
Jaime de Hoyos
as Bigotón
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for El Mariachi

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (7)

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.

Full Review… | November 11, 2008
Variety
Top Critic

Juicy, adroit, and likable.

Full Review… | March 13, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top 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.

Full Review… | January 25, 2006
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
New York Times
Top Critic

Watching his film, you can feel the sheer joy that went into its creation.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
ReelViews
Top Critic

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.

Alex roy
Alex roy

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...

Martin Sahlin
Martin Sahlin

Super Reviewer

½

"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.

Lorenzo von Matterhorn
Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

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