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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Crime > Exploitation > Comedy > Western > El Mariachi/Desperado Double Feature + Once Upon A Time In Mexico (1993/1995/2003 Sony/Columbia Blu-rays)

El Mariachi/Desperado Double Feature + Once Upon A Time In Mexico (1993/1995/2003 Sony/Columbia Blu-rays)

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 stretch out.

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 high definition.

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


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