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Explosive finale for the ‘Desperado’ trilogy

Mark Bemenderfer | Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Before I review Once Upon A Time in Mexico, it is my duty to enlighten the faithful reader why Robert Rodriguez is the man. His first film in the El Mariachi trilogy was filmed on a shoestring budget. But it was good enough and showed enough potential that he got to do a sequel, called Desperado, an action smash starring Antonio Banderas and Selma Hayek. After that, he directed a variety of films ranging from the vampire western From Dusk till Dawn, starring George Clooney to the kid movie trilogy Spy Kids. He was successful enough from all of those films that he got to direct the last part of his action trilogy, Once Upon A Time in Mexico. He was so successful from his previous films that he was able to snag some very big name actors for the movie and not just his regulars (Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Cheech Marin, etc.). Rodriguez’s latest movie is practically bursting with all the stars in it, including Johnny Depp, Enrique Iglesias and Willem Dafoe. Rodriguez knows what he does well, and because of that he gets what he wants.This leads us to the movie, Once Upon A Time in Mexico. For starters, you don’t need to have seen the previous ones to understand what is going on in this one, although it helps because you notice all of the returning actors, including ones that were killed in previous movies. It is also the deepest one of the trilogy, which seems to contrast with its action based nature. Desperado was centered basically on the Mariachi character (also known as El). This time around, the number of characters almost seems overwhelming, which they are on the first viewing of the movie. It improves upon a second viewing, which is almost required as only the most astute movie watcher will catch everything in the movie the first time. For example, see if you can find the second character that Depp plays.Sound in the movie and video quality are both top-notch. Shots are heard nice and clear, along with any other sound worth mentioning. Video looks terrific with no discoloration or darkness – it is a rather superior DVD. However, one of the best things on the DVD is on the special features. It comes with all the staples, such as director’s commentary, deleted scenes and such. Rodriguez also hosts a special feature called “Ten-Minute Flick School” in which he shares insights with aspiring directors. The best special feature on the DVD, however, is titled “Ten-Minute Cooking School,” starring Robert Rodriguez. In this little feature, the director shows us how to cook the slow roasted pork showcased in the movie and obsessed about by Johnny Depp’s character. The four hours it takes to cook may turn off some, but others may be tempted into trying the recipe by Depp.This movie isn’t perfect by any means, but what it does it does well. Depp turns in an awesome performance, Banderas blows away bad guys with style and Dafoe is great as a deplorable villain. It’s the deepest one of the trilogy, but bear in mind, it’s still an action movie.