Warning: This is NOT a Review.
Hey, hey, hey…After doing the article on Sam Raimi and Quentin Tarantino, it is only logical (And movie buffs will agree) that it is only logical for me to talk about the director who I like to call the ‘Mexican Killer’ – Ladies and Gents, let’s give a warm welcome to the visionary, multi-talented filmmaker….daram daram (Fanfare music plays)…ROBERT ‘The Wizard’ RODRIGUEZ!!!
Now fellas, before I even start talking about this guy, I need to take a deep breath – (Sighs) – I needed that. Robert Rodriguez granted, is much respected in Hollywood, but in my opinion, this guy is not even getting a tenth of the recognition and respect he truly deserves! First of all, this guy has balls, he started with virtually nothing and made it real big, he’s so full of fantastical and visionary imagination and his creativity is just way up there. Also, he is multitalented – you’ll often see him Writing, Producing, Directing, Editing, Animating, and even composing the score for his own movies! This guy is so cool that he even wrote a book (Rebel Without A Crew) just to show upcoming film directors how to make it, without waiting for a big deal with Universal! To be honest, I can’t say enough about this guy – he is a personal inspiration to me, and many upcoming film directors, who want to be Rebels even Without A Crew…and so, like I’ve been doing in all the other articles about filmmakers, I’ll be talking about some of my favourite films as directed by this ‘Mexican Killer’….SO LET’S GO!
El Mariachi (1992)
This movie is an inspiration to aspiring filmmakers everywhere, because it shows just how far one can go with a little budget and some creativity. Written and Directed by Robert Rodriguez, the movie was made with a meagre budget of $7,000!
Starring Carlos Gallardo as El Mariachi, Consuelo Gomez as Domino, Jaime De Hoyos as Bigoton, Peter Marquardt as Mauricio, and Reinol Martinez as Azul, the movie has a pretty simple plot – about an El Mariachi who just wants to play his guitar in some local Mexican town, but unfortunately for him, a well known and feared killer whose trademark is holding his weapons in a guitar case shows up just about the same time that El Mariachi is in town. El Mariachi is mistaken for the killer as a contract is already on the killer’s head. The result is a shoot first and ask questions later scenario, and El Mariachi has to keep running, and often confronting.
Like I said, this movie is an inspiration – and just to think, a movie this good, this entertaining can be done with $7,000 is unbelievable! Here, Rodriguez shows his chops in filmmaking, doing all the writing, directing, cinematography, editing, and special effects! In this movie, Rodriguez throws all the conventions of directing out the window – here you’ll see the fire of film making still fresh in him, the hunger, you know!
The movie has got good shoot ‘em up sequences, and is quite fast-passed. Rodriguez uses a crazy frenzied editing style to achieve this. It’s a low-budget movie, fine, but I would pick it over many high-budget movies of the genre when I want pure and simple entertainment!
Written and Directed by Robert Rodriguez, this is a much higher budget remake/sequel of El Mariachi – here Antonio Banderas plays El Mariachi, Salma Hayek plays Carolina, El Mariachi’s squeeze, Danny Trejo as the Dagger-slinging Navajas, Joaquim de Almeida (Brilliant actor) plays the local drug lord, Bucho. The movie also has cameos by Steve Buscemi (As Buscemi) and Quentin Tarantino (As the Pick Up Guy) – both killing their roles, with witty animated humour.
This movie sort of picks up from El Mariachi which ends where the guitarist’ lover is killed and his hand is maimed so he can’t play the guitar again. In Desperado, desperate for revenge he comes back to town, and like the earlier movie, his identity is mistaken again, and the violence ensues once more. With a bigger budget, this movie has some of the bloodiest, most outrageous shoot ‘em up sequences that you’ll ever see in a movie. The action is outrageous, so much so that you can’t help but be awed and even cheering like a madman at it…I know I do!
From the very first scene of the movie, trust me, you’ll be blown away…this is actually the movie that won me over to Robert Rodriguez – from the very first scene he won me over. It’s this start a movie with a sucker-punch wham! Hit the audience before they even know it! Straight at the jugular kinda action!
Trust me; you’ve not seen an action movie till you’ve seen Desperado! No friggin’ kidding!
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
(Sighs Deeply) How do I even start talking about this movie, for pete’s sake! The story comes from the crazy-ingenious mind of Robert Rodriguez, while the screenplay is by Quentin Tarantino himself. Gawd, this movie kills me without end! I’ve literally seen it a hundred times! Here you’ll see George Clooney play what I still consider his most interesting role, as Seth Gecko a bank robber, who with his demented-psycho younger brother, Richie (Played by Quentin Tarantino) after a bloody bank robbery in Texas, try to cross over to Mexico. To achieve this, they hijack Jacob Fuller’s (Harvey Keitel) van, bearing his daughter, Kate (Juliette Lewis) and adopted son, Scott (Ernest Liu). They eventually make it to Mexico, and end up in a bar (Titty Twister) full of vampires, where they are trapped, and have to fight vampires from dusk till dawn.
This movie is truly unique; one of the things I like best about it is how it seems to be divided into two parts – one part robbery and crime – the other part, horror and dark comedy. No doubt, there’s a lot of bloodlust in this movie, and if you’re into corny movies, where lovers hold hands and take long walks on a beach, or movies that end with the dude chasing the girl to the airport, after he has made a complete ass of himself in some public place, and then after making this hugely dramatic apologetic gesture to the girl and all, then they hug and kiss and all, and get married, and all that bull that makes me wanna puke my guts out! – You might be more comfortable watching a Jennifer Aniston flick. Ha! Seriously, this movie is so outrageously violent and bloody it’s almost surreal! And don’t even bring your kids anywhere near this movie. If I had any say, I wouldn’t even bring any 18 year olds near this movie! (Though I broke this rule as a kid – but hey, I didn’t turn out so bad, did I? Ha!)
George Clooney’s role as Seth is cool and calculated, but a guy you don’t even wanna mess with. Tarantino plays a full perverted psycho – Seth’s younger brother, who kills for kicks and for no reason whatsoever…just the kinda role QT would play, mad man! Ha ha ha
Harvey Keitel who since Reservoir Dogs practically became one of my favorite actors EVER! Plays the role of a former minister, who lost his faith after his wife died in a car crash. He lends a dramatic feel to the movie; and as the five of them find themselves in the supernaturally deathly situation, he is forced to confront his faith once again.
Another cool thing about this movie is how the five of them is helped by these cool kick-ass guys – one guy, Frost (Played by Fred Wlliamson) and one guy who calls himself Sex Machine (Played by Tom Savini) and has a pistol that literally pulls out of his younknowwhat! Get it? Sex Machine? Only Tarantino or Rodriguez can come up with madman stuff like that!
You’ll also see Salma Hayek who plays Santanico Pandemonium, a seductress exotic dancer, who needless to say is a vampire. Danny Trejo plays the vampire bartender, Razor Charlie. On the whole, this movie is Brutal, and has that crazy dark humour, Quentin Tarantino style, mixed up with Rodriguez style innovative action, and the brilliant music score will have you snapping your fingers even as heads and limbs fly all over the place! You won’t mind, you’ll love it!
Once Upon A Time In Mexico (2003)
Written and Directed by Robert Rodriguez, this is the third and final slot of the El Mariachi series. A lot of people don’t quite get this movie, partly because they expected it to follow the trend of the gun-slinging guitarist on a revenge-killing spree, Once Upon A Time In Mexico takes a different direction, with a more complex story-line than the earlier two.
This movie has a great cast; apart from Antonio Banderas, Danny Trejo and Salma Hayek (Who plays a very short role, but you won’t miss her, Mendes is there!), it’s got Mickey Rourke, Eva Mendes, Enrique Inglesias, Willem Dafoe, and the glorious, Johnny Depp! I can’t even begin to explain how much I love this movie! To be perfectly honest with you, there’re no words spoken by mortals that will suffice in describing how much this movie kills me!
Like I said, the movie’s quite complex, CIA agent Sands (Depp) forces El Mariachi (Banderas) out of retirement and gets him to attempt taking out Gen. Marquez (Gerardo Vigil), Sands also informs Barillo (Dafoe), a drug lord that El Mariachi has resurfaced. Sands convinces an FBI agent to revenge the torture and killing of his partner and dear friend. The movie takes on a new direction with the introduction of Eva Mendes who plays a Special Forces agent, a mean femme fatale, trying to earn a huge recommendation by taking out the drug baron. Johnny Depp’s character basically plays chess with everybody, as they confront themselves, but in the end he finds himself right in the middle of his own game!
Though, I enjoyed this movie immensely the first time, I had to watch it the second time almost immediately to fully appreciate the depth of storytelling that went into it. The movie has a lot more depth than El Mariachi and Desperado, but doesn’t in any way dumb down on the shooting and killing! I love this movie because, here you see Rodriguez who recognizing the fact that he has a lot of big names in his cast, gives all of them accolades or rather, what I like to call swag roles.
This movie is brilliant – you’ve got Eva Mendes playinga a very sensual, and brutally unique role, you’ve got Mickey Rourke, and we all know how that guy is! Don’t even let me start on Johnny Depp, please…if you like me even an aorta, just don’t let me start on Johnny Depp, I beg you…
Sin City (2005)
This movie is definitely one of my favourites, simply because this movie did something that was never before seen in any movie before it! Sheer brilliance! Adapted from the comic book by Frank Miller, the movie is directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, with a scene guest-directed by Quentin Tarantino.
Sin City is about four tales intertwined in Basin City, a city full of crime and corruption. The first story is about; let’s just say a killer for the dames. The second story focuses on a muscle-bounded scarred brute, Marv (Mickey Rourke) who’s looking to find the person responsible for the only love of his life, Goldie (Jaime King), to find him and kill him in ways unspeakable. The second story is about a man, Dwight (Clive Owen) who tired of Sin City’s corrupt justice system, takes the law into his hands, and a cop, Hartigan (Bruce Willis) who does everything possible to protect a little girl from a paedophile.
Let me just say this about Sin City – everything is on point! No friggin’ kidding! From Rodriguez’ employment of unique directing and cinematography, as well as special effects, to the awesome, unbelievable! Sin City is a fiery movie, and the acting by the stars is outrageously superb! You’ve got Bruce Willis playing one of the most awesome roles you’ll ever see him in, since Die Hard (The first one), you’ve got Clive Owen, who’s one of the coolest actors EVER! and really should have been James Bond (No offence intended, Daniel Craig, you’re da man!), you’ve got Benicio Del Toro who’s practically one of the most talented actors alive! You’ve got Mickey Rourke who plays what to me is his most unforgettable role! Josh Hartnett, Michael Madsen, and Elijah Wood play short but highly intense and unforgettable roles, as well! On the ladies side you’ve got Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Brittany Murphy (rest her soul), Jaime King, Devon Aoki (Her role is something else!), and others like Powers Boothe, Nick Stahl, Michael Clark Duncan (rest his soul) and Tommy Flanagan. What a cast!
One of the things that kill me in this movie, is not only how everything is shot in black and white (With only the necessary things showing in color) creating a comic look and feel, but also how the blood is shown in white. It’s so madly innovative, it drives me nuts! The dialogues in this movie will tear you in pieces with joy! I can practically quote every line in this movie word for word, I don’t do that for all movies, just only for the great ones like The Godfather, Casino, Goodfellas, Donnie Brasco, Matrix Trilogy, Lord of the Rings…okay, you get my point…LOL.
Grindhouse/Planet Terror (2007)
Planet Terror is the other part of the Grindhouse series, the other part being Death Proof (Directed by Quentin Tarantino). Grindhouse is a concept conceived by Rodriguez and Tarantino as a washed out theatre that keeps showing B-rated movies of the 70s, 80s genre. Gawd, those two guys kill me! Notice how (for those who’ve seen it) if you’re watching a Grindhouse movie, how in between the movie cuts, you know, like when you’ll using a slide reel – Geez, if that isn’t creativity, tell me what is! And you’ll also notice the made-up commercials in Grindhouse that shows B-rated movies with faked-terrible acting, movies like Matchete featuring Danny Trejo as Matchete,
Planet Terror stars Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Bruce Willis, and Quentin Tarantino. The story is basically about a bio-chemical weapon released and turns thousands into zombies. So a group of survivors have to stop the infected, as well as confront the powers behind it. The movie’s got a lot of outrageous shoot ‘em up scenes – like imagine McGowan, who plays Cherry Darling, a one-legged dame that fixes a machine gun on her amputated leg and uses it as a double for an artificial leg, as well as a weapon! Gawd, I don’t know how Rodriguez comes up with these kinda stuffs, but I love it! Rodriguez does the entire music score for this movie (John Carpenter was supposed to do it, but no love lost), and even uses the theme from Carpenter’s classic 80’s flick, Escape from New York, a movie which was a great influence on Rodriguez, and made him decide to be a filmmaker!
A lot of people of who don’t understand the point of this movie, quite simply, hate it! But it’s pretty much the same concept as Death Proof. All Grindhouse movies are a celebration of the 70s, 80s B-movie genre. So you really need to have this in mind to appreciate it, it’s something of a homage to the 70s genre. Now, a guy like me, who’s a fan of old movies understands this, and I laud Rodriguez and Tarantino for having the balls to do something different and creative, and not follow any of the rules and norms that is usually generic and common place in Hollywood.
Trivia: Robert Rodriguez wrote, produced and directed movies like the Spy Kids series, Shark Girl and Lava Boy, as well as, Shorts. He was a fan of comics and animation, and therefore loves to make movies for kids, as well as R-rated movies, exclusively for adults. He is perhaps one of the most dynamic filmmakers in Hollywood!