El Mariachi (1992)

el mariachi poster 1992 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Art: 7/10
Visuals: 9/10

Fun story with a great look

Low budget sometimes hurts it, not the best acting

Movie Info

Movie Name:  El Mariachi

Studio:  Los Hooligans Productions

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  September 15, 1992 (Toronto Film Festival)/February 26, 1993 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R


That’s right, I’m so damn bad, I don’t need a name!

A man (Carlos Gallardo) who dreams of being a real mariachi like his father and grandfather enters a small town hoping for luck.  When he is mistaken for a notorious criminal named Azul (Reinol Martinez) who is at war with another drug lord named Moco (Peter Marquardt), the mariachi is caught in the middle.  Now, the mariachi is on the run but also in love with a local bartender named Domino (Consuelo Gomez).  When the criminals catch up with him, their love might be their undoing.

El Mariachi was the debut film of Robert Rodriguez.  Despite being a Spanish language film, it is an American film and was shot in a small border town in Mexico.  It premiered in the Toronto Film Festival in 1992 with a bigger release in 1993.


Here he comes. Walking down the street. Gets the funniest looks from. Everyone he meets

With a production cost of about $7,000 (most of which Rodriguez earn from volunteering for medical testing), El Mariachi is one of the biggest moneymakers just on the sheer cost to profit ratio.  There are points where the cheapness of El Mariachi shines through, but Rodriguez’s shooting style and writing help cover the lack of budget.  Allegedly, the town didn’t quite love the idea of it being the front for the drug war, and Rodriguez had to offer people roles in the movie to make up for it. Also with all the characters dying, he struggled to find more people to play the roles of gangsters later in the movie.


So…you want to kill her too…oh, crap

With the lower budget, there is also a lower caliber of acting.  None of the lead actors really can carry the movie on their own.  When El Mariachi’s sequel Desperado was released in 1995, Gallardo was replaced by Antonio Banderas (though Gallardo does appear as one of his allies).  Once again, it is helpful that Rodriguez has a kinetic action that really keeps the movie moving…the acting doesn’t become as necessary.

El Mariachi one was of the films that really helped start the whole art house movement resurgence in the early ’90s by bringing a sort of hipness to the scene.  Rodriguez found himself linked with Quentin Tarantino, and the partnership has continued to this day.  Despite the ultralow budget, there is a bit of quaintness to El Mariachi that is lost in its sequels.  They are almost too slick, and El Mariachi has a bit of a grindhouse feel.  Check out a modern classic!

Related Links:

Desperado (1995)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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