Persuaded out of retirement by CIA Agent Sands (Depp) with the promise of
revenge, El Mariachi (Banderas) has to break a promise and take up his gun
again. Cartel leader Barillo (Defoe) wants the President of Mexico dead after
he announces a war on criminals and has hired a power hungry, corrupt General
to stage a military take-over of the presidential palace. On learning this,
the Mariachi's mission is not only to seek retribution but also to save the
future of the Mexican people.
Prolific moviemaker Robert Rodriguez goes back to the franchise
that started his career and eleven years since his first appearance, the man
with the guitar case returns.
The El Mariachi series becomes a trilogy and credit has to go
to filmmaker Robert Rodriquez, emphasizing the word filmmaker. The man is
unique in the world of movies. He directs, writes, produces, operates the
camera, edits, supervises the special effects, edits the sound and now has
added the new skill of composer to his extensive list of expertise. He has
to be one of the most talented people working in film today.
Antonio Banderas returns to the action role he made his own.
As the guitar playing killer, he deals out justice with his usual flare and
extreme violence. The body count is huge as Banderas and his fellow mariachi's
fight to save Mexico. It almost harks back to the excesses of the late 1980s,
early 1990s but saying that you won't have expected less from a Mariachi movie.
This is stylised violence but with a certain amount of tongue-in-cheek humour
that means you never take it too seriously.
Most of the humour is provided by another scene-stealing turn
by Johnny Depp. He is cornering the market in strange characters, with a slightly
mad disposition and his Agent Sands is another classic, quotable creation.
Everything he does is hysterical, to the point that you long for his character
to have more screen time than he actually has.
The star-studded cast provides great support for the two main
players. Salma Hayek is as beautiful as ever and is now just as deadly. Willem
Defoe is suitably over-the-top as the crazed cartel leader. Mickey Rourke's
career might be taking a change for the better. Enrique Iglesias shows he
is much more that just a singer. Eva Mendes is becoming a young actress to
watch and Rodriquez stalwarts Danny Trejo and Cheech Marin are as good as
What lets the movie down in comparison to the previous two is
the lack of a comprehensible story. While the main Mariachi story is explained
and executed well, it is the subplots that are not drawn out enough or satisfactorily
concluded. Agent Sands' motivations are never really explained and the final
part of his story is just plain bizarre. The reasons behind Barillo's plan
are never really clarified. Who is the FBI Agent speaking to all the time
or is he just mad? These subplots and the questions from them tend to get
in the way of the main story.
The action and excessive violence distract you from the plot
shortcomings as Rodriguez really goes to town with the set sequences, gunplay
and great dialogue, especially from Depp. Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a
fun finale to a tongue in cheek homage to the western. While it isn't the
best of the series, it is still a far better sequel than many other offerings.
Now where is that Mexican chef?
Presented in Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic with a Dolby Digital
5.1 soundtrack, the transfer is extremely good as it is a direct digital transfer.
As the film was made using digital high definition cameras (the same as Star
Wars Episode II) the picture quality is perfect with bright, vibrant colours
and absolutely no pixelation. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack comes into
its own during the energetic and explosive action sequences, with bullets
and debris whizzing around the speakers.
Anyone who is interested in film and filmmaking should listen to a commentary
by Robert Rodriguez. The director is at the cutting edge of movie production
and this commentary reveals how completely hands-on he is with all of his
movies. As well as talking about his Mariachi trilogy, his influences and
the driving force behind the characters, he talks in-depth about using High
Definition cameras for the first time and the freedom this new technology
creates. He also talks about all the different jobs he does on the film revealing
this complete knowledge of the filmmaking process. This is a fascinating and
amusing commentary that is a must for fans and aspiring filmmakers alike.
Ten Minute Flick School (9.04 mins)
Robert Rodriguez takes you on a whistle-stop tour of the making of the movie.
The director reveals many secrets from the film, gives you instruction on
how to cut costs and how to effectively use computer effects, quickly and
Inside Troublemaker Studios (11.22 mins)
Robert Rodriguez takes you on a tour of his garage in Austin, Texas that has
now become the home for Troublemaker Studios. He reveals how he used the latest
technology, employing all the current software, to edit, compose and create
special effects for all his movies. This really showcases what new technology
can do and the freedom it can now give filmmakers.
Ten Minute Cooking School (5.47 mins)
Robert Rodriguez shows you how to make Puerco Pibil, the slow roasted pork
dish that Agent Sands would kill you for. This is very informative and extremely
funny at the end.
Film is Dead: An Evening with Robert Rodriguez (13.18 mins)
Filmed at the Cary Grant Theatre, L.A. in July 2003, Robert Rodriguez talks
about using the new digital high definition cameras and how they are going
to change the filmmaking process forever. He reveals how this new technology
brings with it new freedoms for everyone involved from the director to the
actors, allowing you to create better performances, less takes and reduce
costs. Film could well and truly be dead.
The Anti-Hero's journey (18.02 mins)
Robert Rodriguez and his cast and crew talk about the El Mariachi trilogy
and take you behind the scenes of Once Upon a Time in Mexico. Johnny Depp,
Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek and William Defoe talk about their characters
and working with the prolific director. While this might not be a good as
the purpose made featurettes for this DVD, this is still a good insight into
the world of the man with the guitar case full of guns.
The Good, the Bad and the Bloody: Inside KNB FX (19.02 mins)
Greg Nicotero and Jake Garber take you behind the scenes of KNB FX, the makeup
special FX house that has worked with Robert Rodriguez since From Dusk 'til
Dawn. The featurette shows you how the fake arm, Cheech dummy, Bull Fight
Day and Post-op surgery were created under the extremely tight schedule of
a Robert Rodriguez movie.
Deleted Scenes (7.42 mins)
Eight deleted scenes with director's commentary by Robert Rodriguez. Highlights
include an alternative monologue at the Bull Fight from Johnny Depp and more
List of the main films from director Robert Rodriguez and stars Antonio Banderas,
Johnny Depp and Salma Hayek.
Try your had at Lotteria (Lottery) and test your skills in Tiro Al Blanco
An amazing transfer and an extraordinarily good set of bonus features make
Once Upon a Time in Mexico not only a must for fans but a quality purchase
or rent for anyone not familiar with the work of Robert Rodriguez. Columbia/Tri-Star
have done a fantastic job, especially when you think that this DVD offers
more value on a single disc than most double-disc sets. The commentary is
excellent and the featurettes are informative and entertaining making this
a brilliant package.
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