El Mariachi/Desperado Double Feature (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 26, 2010 by  

The first two films of Robert Rodriguez “El Mariachi” trilogy” receive the HD treatment.   For fans of the director Robert Rodriguez, these two films are classics and if you want to be a filmmaker, these two films give you the best insight on how Rodriguez created “El Mariachi” for only $7,000 and how he also was able to keep “Desperado” within its budget.  If you own the double feature DVD’s, its definitely worth the upgrade to Blu-ray!

Images courtesy of © 1993 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved., © 1995 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: El Mariachi/Desperado Double Feature

FILM RELEASE DATE: El Mariachi (1993), Desperado (1995)

DURATION: El Mariachi (85 Minutes), Desperado (104 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: El Mariachi: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), Spanish, English and French 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish/Desperado: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), Spanish, English and French 4.1 Stereo DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (For Strong Bloody Violence , Strong Sex Sequence and Language)

Release Date: January 4, 2011

El Mariachi

Written and Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Produced by Carlos Gallardo, Robert Rodriguez

Associate Producer: Elizabeth Avellan, Carmen M. De Gallardo

Music by Eric Guthrie, Chris Knudson, Alvaro Rodriguez, Cecilio Rodriguez, Mark Trujillo

Cinematography by Robert Rodriguez

Edited by Robert Rodriguez


Written and Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Produced by Bill Borden, Robert Rodriguez

Co-Producer: Elizabeth Avellan, Carlos Gallardo

Music by Los Lobos

Cinematography by Guillermo Navarro

Edited by Robert Rodriguez

Production Design by Cecilia Montiel

Art Direction by Felipe Fernandez del Paso

Costume Design by Graciela Mazon

“El Mariachi” starring:

Carlos Gallardo as El Mariachi

Consuelo Gomez as Domino

Jaime de Hoyos as Bigoton

Peter Marquardt as Mauricio

Reinol Martinez as Azul

Ramiro Gomez as Cantinero

Jesus Lopez as Viejo Clerk

“Desperado” starring:

Antonio Banderas as El Mariachi

Salma Hayek as Carolina

Joaquim de Almeida as Bucho

Cheech Marin as Short Bartender

Steve Buscemi as Buscemi

Carlos Gomez as Right Hand

Quentin Tarantino as Pick-Up Guy

Tito Larriva as Tavo

Angel Aviles as Zamira

Danny Trejo as Navajas

Abrahama Verduzco as Nino

Carlos Gallardo as Campa

Desperado – Antonio Banderas, Joaquim De Almeida, Salma Hayek, Steve Buscemi, Cheech Marin and Quentin Tarantino star in this stylish shoot-’em-up described as a south-of-the-border PULP?FICTION, now remastered in high definition for Blu-ray™. Writer/director Robert Rodriguez follows up his legendary debut film, EL?MARIACHI, with this sexy sequel about a mysterious guitar player (Banderas) searching for vengeance against the men who murdered his girlfriend. El Mariachi – All he wants is to be a mariachi, like his father, his grandfather and his great grandfather before him. But the town he thinks will bring him luck brings only a curse of deadly mistaken identity. Forced to trade his guitar for a gun, the mariachi is playing for his life in this critically acclaimed film debut from writer/director Robert Rodriguez, now remastered in high definition for Blu-ray™.

Ten Minute Cooking School

Ten Minute Flick School

The Anti-Hero’s Journey

When it comes to stories of how young director’s break into Hollywood, Robert Rodriguez is perhaps one of the most inspiring filmmakers to have emerged back in the early ’90s.

Rodriguez had the filmmaking bug at a young age but because his grades weren’t that great, he attended the University of Texas (College of Communication) and would showcase his talent as an illustrator and create cartoons for the student newspaper “The Daily Texan”.

But his passion would still be with filmmaking.  He went on to create a short titled “Bedhead” in 1990 and enter it in a local film contest and he won an award for it.

So, he was determined to create his first film titled “El Mariachi” with money raised by his friend Carlos Gallardo and also money that Rodriguez would make by taking part in medical research studies.  But with his knowledge of film editing using home software and having to cut corners to get the shots that he needed, he would go on to create the film “El Mariachi” which he figured that he could make money and have it released on video in Mexico.

So, both Rodriguez and Carlos started to shop the film to several Mexican companies in hopes that he could get a filmmaking job and also earn a little money.  One company offering $25,000 for “El Mariachi”.  But knowing that there was interest in his film, Rodriguez wanted to see how other companies felt.  Bigger companies.

By 1991, Rodriguez was desperate so he sent his video to ICM veteran Robert Newman in Beverly Hills, how Rodriguez knew about the industry veteran was that Newman was supposed to give a seminar in Texas.  Calling the number out of the blue, Rodriguez and Gallardo got the opportunity to meet with him and Newman gave him the advice to make three films.  Rodriguez gave him a copy of the trailer and over the weekend both Rodriguez and Gallardo took their time enjoying the sights of the area but then he received a call from Newman.  Newman told Rodriguez he loved the trailer and that he loved it and wanted a subtitled copy of “El Mariachi”.  After viewing it, Newman wanted to represent Robert Rodriguez and even got his support to try and send it to Miramax, despite it being a longshot.

By 1992, several studios have seen “El Mariachi” and were impressed and Columbia Pictures made their first offer, while other movie studios wanted to get their hands on “El Mariachi”.  In the end, Columbia Pictures offered Rodriguez a pretty substantial deal for a young filmmaker.  $125,000 for distribution rights, 25% on video sales and for a film created for $7,000 and the chance to be screened with other major Hollywood films at festivals was an incredible moment for Rodriguez.

Although the film did not make a huge earning in the box office, the film went on to make $1.5 million in video sales and for Robert Rodriguez, his dreams of becoming a filmmaker came true as he went on to make two TV movies in 1994 and the sequel to “El Mariachi” titled “Desperado” which would cost $7,000,000 and became a box office hit while the final film in the trilogy “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” (2003) would meet incredible financial success in the box office.  Since “El Mariachi”, Robert Rodriguez has inspired filmmakers who have dreamed of getting a shot in Hollywood and his story of his adventures in making “El Mariachi” was written in his book “Rebel Without a Crew”.

With successful sales on VHS, LD and on DVD of “El Mariachi” and “Desperado”, the trilogy will now be released on Blu-ray in January 2011 (note: “El Mariachi/Desperado” as a double feature and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” will be reached simultaneously).

“El Mariachi” is a Spanish film which stars Carlos Gallardo as El Mariachi, a man who is looking for a job to play his guitar and sing and going town to town in hopes of finding a job of being a Mariachi like his father and grandfather.  El Mariachi arrives to the small town of Acuna in hopes of getting work.

Meanwhile, a criminal in jail named Azul is being targeted by his former partner named Moco.  Azul wants his cut of profits but he doesn’t know that his former partner has sent men to the jail to kill him.  Expecting such a move, Azul and his men easily kill Moco’s men and walks out of prison and wants revenge.

As El Mariachi tries to find a job at a local pub, he is turned away.  Moments later, Azul who also carries a guitar case like El Mariachi, pulls out several guns and kills Moco’s men inside the pub.  The bartender calls Moco’s men and tells them to look for a man in black carrying a black guitar case.

Needless to say, in a case of mistaken identity, Moco’s men start going after El Mariachi instead. Not knowing why these men are out to kill him, Carlos manages to find refuge at a bar owned by a woman named Domino who tries to help him. But now Moco’s men are searching the whole town for El Mariachi, meanwhile the real killer Azul wants his revenge on Moco and the only person he knows that can take him right to Moco is Domino (since Moco finances the bar).

In 1995, Robert Rodriguez was given the opportunity to make a feature film with a higher budget and a film that would star Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek.

In “Desperado”, El Mariachi (played by Antonio Banderas) wants revenge for the tragedy (which took place at the end if “El Mariachi”) and is in search of a man named Bucho.  With the help of Buscemi (played by Steve Buscemi), Buscemi goes to bars trying to get information on where Bucho is.

At one bar, Buscemi sees how the bartender (played by Cheech Marin) and his sidekick Tavo (played by Tito Larriva) behave when he tells him a story about a man who gun downed people at a bar at another town and is determined to get revenge against a man named Bucho.  Giving the information to El Mariachi, El then goes to the bar and begins executing the men who are loyal to Bucho.

When El Mariachi leaves the bar, thinking he is done.  He is unaware that Tavo is behind him and is warned by Carolina (played by Salma Hayek).  Tavo shoots and  El Mariachi knows that the woman will be hit, so he pushes her out of the way and takes the bullet and killing Tavo with a shot. As Carolina nurses him and fixes his arm up, both El Mariachi and Buscemi are unaware that a killer named Navajas (played by Danny Trejo) is after them.

Meanwhile, Bucho fearing El Mariachi sends all his men to kill El Mariachi and El knows he’s close to getting his revenge against Bucho.  Or is he?


“El Mariachi” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1) and “Desperado” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1).

Starting off with “El Mariachi”, the fact that this is an older film from 1993, it was a low budget independent film and there is only so much that can be done to make this film look great.  Surprisingly, the film does look a lot better on Blu-ray.  I’m noticing the textures of the blue walls and paint coming off and just details that never really caught my attention until now.

So, for those who have owned the VHS, LD or a DVD copy of “El Mariachi”, the picture quality on Blu-ray is much clearer.  Not spectacular but definitely the best looking of the version film thus far.

As for “Desperado”, definitely a film that looks great on Blu-ray.  Blacks are nice and deep, earth tones and reds pop, good amount of grain.  Also, a good amount of detail can be seen.  From the sweat beeding off of El Mariachi’s face to the detail of the textures of Carolina’s booksstore to the cafe and even Bucho’s painted red walls and more.  Colors and detail look very good!

There are scenes where hair splitting, skin pores, beads of sweat are much more evident and clear on Blu-ray!

While “El Mariachi” does show its age as a shot in 1991 film, “Desperado” doesn’t show it’s 1995 age (just only the beginning when we see a group of Americans in ’90s clothing).

For those who owned the “El Mariachi/Desperado” Double Feature on DVD or even “El Mariachi” in its previous video formats, the jump to Blu-ray is definitely recommended!


“El Mariachi” is presented in Spanish, English and French 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA.  “Desperado” is presented in English, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA and in Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.

“El Mariachi” is pretty much front channel driven and with it being in lossless, there is more clarity to the soundtrack.  But where people are going to hear the best use of sound is in “Desperado”.

Gunshots and action sequences utilize the surround channels quite effectively and I was very impressed to hear how the film sounds in lossless.  The lossless audio definitely enhanced my experience in watching the film again.  Dialogue and music is very clear through the center and front channels.  Great explosions utilize LFE and definitely a film that sounds great on Blu-ray!

Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.


“El Mariachi/Desperado” are presented in standard definition, English Stereo/Mono and with Spanish subtitles. Special features include:

El Mariachi

  • MovieIQ – If you have a Blu-ray player that is connected to the Internet, while watching the film, you can access trivia, facts and information about the “El Mariachi”.
  • The Cutting Room – Allows viewers to edit and cut footage from a film and send it to friends online.
  • Director Robert Rodriguez Audio Commentary – A wonderful audio commentary by director Robert Rodriguez who breaks down the scene and talks about how he was able to make certain scenes without a large crew, high production equipment and creating his film for $7,000.
  • Robert Rodriguez’s Student Film: “Bed Head” – (9:08) A B&W short film about a girl named Rebecca narrating about why she is in the hospital and it all started with her brother’s severe case of bed head and how she tried to make it go down.
  • 10 Minute Film School – (14:39) A wonderful featurette about how Robert Rodriguez created “El Mariachi” with for $7,000 and revealing his secrets on how he pulled off various scenes of his film and edited the movie at home.


  • MovieIQ – If you have a Blu-ray player that is connected to the Internet, while watching the film, you can access trivia, facts and information about the “El Mariachi”.
  • The Cutting Room – Allows viewers to edit and cut footage from a film and send it to friends online.
  • Director’s Commentary – Audio commentary with Robert Rodriguez and also another awesome filmmaking commentary where you learn how certain scenes were created and once again, how Rodriguez operated with more money but still trying to keep within a budget.
  • 10 More Minutes: Anatomy of a Shootout – (10:30) Robert Rodriguez answers questions on how he does his shootouts and how he did traditional hand drawn storyboards and video storyboards.
  • Los Lobos with Antonio Banderas – “Morena De Mi Corazón” – (2:40) A music video feat. Los Lobos and Antonio Banderas.
  • Tito & Tarantula- “Back To The House That Love Built” – (4:04) A music video by Tito & Tarantula.

When it comes to “El Mariachi/Desperado”, for any fans who have followed the career of Robert Rodriquez and was inspired by his book “Rebel Without a Crew” to his mini-film school special features and audio commentary, you can’t help but respect Robert Rodriguez.

From the time he made “El Mariachi” and doing all he can (including interesting ways to fund “El Mariachi” back then) to stay within a budget, he has become a studio’s favorite director and since 1993 and for any film student, you can’t help but respect his determination and his passion for making a movie and trying to get his independent film recognized.  But most of all, even today, he manages to keep it real, continuing to help future filmmakers by providing tips and advice on DVD and Blu-ray releases that he takes part in.

For me, “El Mariachi” was an inspiring film.  Creating a $7,000 movie and using whatever he had at his disposal (like a wheelchair for smooth shooting and editing the video at home) but doing it right.  Not everyone gets that chance in Hollywood but by watching this film, even though it was geared to the Spanish video market, everyone can see why the film has become a fan favorite.  Plenty of action, drama and for the most part, giving independent filmmakers and future filmmakers a chance to see how a young 23-year-old could craft a film that would literally knock people’s socks off.

While “El Mariachi” was an impressive film at $7,000, “Desperado” was fantastic!  Antonio Banderas was a wonderful “El Mariachi” showcasing charisma but also a man that literally can kick ass and shoot a gun!  And while you have a sexy male character, you need someone equally sexy and you have Salma Hayek as the character of Carolina and both characters exude Latin sexiness.  These two worked very well on-screen togehter and also feature other characters such as Joaquim de Almeida as Bucho, Cheech Marin as Short Bartender, Steve Buscemi, Quentin Tarantino and Danny Trejo and you have one hell of an awesome shootout film that surpasses the original in production quality, acting and coolness.

Granted, it helps when you have a much higher budget and instead of $7,000, Rodriguez had $7,000,000 and the film managed to bring more than three times its budget, so it was a great feature film for the young director at that time.

And of course, it continues to get better with the final film in the “El Mariachi” Trilogy with “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” which will be released on Blu-ray simultaneously with the “El Mariachi/Desperado” release.

While the DVD release of “El Mariachi/Desperado” was a perfect release, of course, on Blu-ray…there is only so much you can do with “El Mariachi” and its look via HD.  Also, the special features are presented in standard definition but you do get a few more extra features that were not included on the original DVD release.

While “El Mariachi” and “Desperado” look better and sound better than its DVD counterpart, it’s not reference quality.  But still, if you enjoyed the first two films of the trilogy and did not own the original DVD release with both films, you definitely will want to check out this Blu-ray out!  In fact, I feel it’s definitely worth the upgrade to Blu-ray.

If you are fan of the “El Mariachi” trilogy or a fan of Robert Rodriguez films, “El Mariachi/Desperado” is highly recommended!

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