Desperado, released in August of 1995, is basically a big(ger) budget remake of director Robert Rodriguez’s first film, El Mariachi (1992). Many are familiar with the lore surrounding El Mariachi‘s production. It was made in twenty days on a budget of $7,000 (or roughly the cost of afternoon snacks for today’s Hollywood productions) and would go on to earn over $2 million at the box office. It also put Rodriguez on the map as a resourceful, stylish, and energetic director. Columbia snatched up Desperado and gave Rodriguez a budget of $7 million – roughly 1000 times the budget of El Mariachi. The studio was rewarded handsomely with a $25.6 million haul and Rodriguez’s career took flight.
Figures aside, Desperado is an immensely entertaining action movie. Filled with memorable characters, scenes, and dialogue (Steve Buscemi’s extended monologue to open the film, Quentin Tarantino’s joke, etc.), Desperado‘s energy never wavers and Rodriguez’s sleek direction pushes it over the top. The soundtrack, headlined by Los Lobos, is spectacular. If you like high-octane, Mexican-infused rock, look no further. The opening track, “Cancion Del Mariachi (Morena De Mi Corazon),” is hugely popular and has resulted in similarly amazing covers. But for my money, the oft-utilized “Mariachi Suite,” also by Los Lobos, is the best track. From the exquisite, mood-setting acoustic guitar that opens the number to the electric guitar-driven 180 at 1:44, it’s stunning music. Rediscovering, or simply just discovering, the film and accompanying soundtrack is an excellent use of one’s time.