El Mariachi/Desperado Double Feature + Once Upon A Time In Mexico (1993/1995/2003
Picture: C/C+/C+ Sound:
C+/B-/B Extras: A- Films: B-
Robert Rodriguez is an independent force in Hollywood, bucking most conventions
of the industry by not only directing, but often producing, writing, editing
and scoring his films - all without outside interference. In all the years he has been making movies,
there has been change to these habits. That most of his films are also of high
quality makes these achievements all the more incredible.
Of the films presented on these discs, time has actually been kindest to his
16mm debut feature, El Mariachi. His
aim at the time was to make a film good enough to be sold on the Mexican home
video market. Soon he would find that
the great lengths that had been taken ensuring that it would resound with
audiences would pay off - he had merely underestimated just how many people he
would reach with his $7,000 epic.
Often throughout the rest of the series, characters and concepts appear to be
altered at the will of an unseen storyteller. When each film ends, it is a conclusion to
that particular leg of the tale. When
the threads of the story are next picked up, however, previous events will have
things put in, taken out, expanded and altered as the story continues to
Also, while the sequels to El Mariachi follow up the story from that film;
their progression is not quite linear. Desperado
can be viewed as a refinement of ideas seen in that first film, now executed
with a larger budget.
A full decade would pass before Rodriguez would complete the third and final
film in the series, Once Upon A Time In Mexico. But this, too, would continue the trend of
taking old scenarios and arranging them in new patterns, despite breaking new
ground with a radically different story.
Picture quality is improved over the DVD editions, but is probably not radical
enough for most to worry about upgrading over at the moment. El Mariachi and Desperado are
presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Once
Upon A Time In Mexico is in 1.78:1, with all three films being in 1080p
Sound quality has also been improved upon, and the new DTS-HD Master Audio is
certainly a step up from previous releases of the films. The newer films feature 5.1 surround sound
mixes, while El Mariachi is in 2.0 stereo. Considering that these are high profile action
films, the lack of 7.1 mixes is unusual, but these are just fine as-is.
The extras on these discs are all carry-overs from the DVD editions of the
films, which have been available for sale in many different configurations over
the years. These features include
commentaries and behind the scenes futurities, as well as Rodriguez’s 10-minute
film school segments and his 1991 short, Bedhead.
It took a lot of audacity and determination to get these films made, and
popcorn fare though they might be, they make for some of the best entertainment
you can buy for your home theater. This
experience is made even better on Blu-ray; and even though there will likely be
further improvements in the future, I still highly recommend a purchase of
these titles. This especially goes for
those who have not yet delved into them on DVD.
- David Milchick