Desperado (film)

Theatrical poster
Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Produced by
  • Robert Rodriguez
  • Bill Borden
Written by Robert Rodriguez
Music by Los Lobos
Cinematography Guillermo Navarro
Edited by Robert Rodriguez
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • August 25, 1995 (1995-08-25)
Running time
106 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $7 million[1]
Box office $25.4 million[2]

Desperado is a 1995 American action film written, produced, and directed by Robert Rodriguez. A sequel to the 1992 film El Mariachi, it is the second installment in Robert Rodriguez's Mexico Trilogy. It stars Antonio Banderas as the mariachi who seeks revenge on the drug lord who killed his lover.

Desperado was screened out of competition at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival.[3] Once Upon a Time in Mexico, the final part of the trilogy, was released in 2003.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • Music 3.1
  • Reception 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


At the Tarasco bar in Mexico, an American man tells the story of how he witnessed a massacre in another bar committed by a Mexican with a guitar case full of guns. The bar's patrons are uninterested until the American mentions the name "Bucho." Meanwhile, El Mariachi has a dream of his encounter with Moco that left his lover dead and his hand shot. He is awakened by the American, who tells him to continue his search for Bucho at the bar. El Mariachi travels to the town and meets a child to whom he gives some guitar playing tips. At the Tarasco bar, El Mariachi engages in a tense standoff with Bucho's goons before a massive gunfight erupts. He kills everyone in the bar, but is followed outside by a man named Tavo. On the street, Tavo shoots El Mariachi twice before being killed himself. El Mariachi is then sheltered in the local bookstore by Carolina, the owner. Bucho arrives at the bar to survey the carnage and hears the kid from earlier playing his guitar by the door. A paranoid Bucho orders his men to hunt down the man with a guitar case full of guns.

In the bookstore, Carolina removes the bullets from El Mariachi and stitches his wounds. While he rests, she discovers the guns in his guitar case. She realizes who he is and he asks her to help him find and kill Bucho. He leaves his case with her so that he can go and talk to the American at the town church. The American is upset over the massacre at the bar and convinces El Mariachi to give up his quest for blood. While exiting the church, they are ambushed by a Colombian hit-man named Navajas. The American is killed and El Mariachi is severely wounded. The attack is interrupted by Bucho's men, who mistake Navajas for El Mariachi and kill him. They take the body back to Bucho, who is upset to discover that the Colombians don't trust him and that his men killed the wrong person. El Mariachi wanders through the streets injured, again meeting the kid with the guitar. He asks why the kid isn't practicing and learns that the kid is being used by his father to mule drugs hidden in his guitar. El Mariachi witnesses the kid swapping the guitar with drug dealers, and as they pull around the corner he robs them of the drugs, which he destroys.

An angry Mariachi returns to the bookstore and confronts Carolina, discovering that she also works for Bucho. After fighting with her she begins tending his wounds again when Bucho arrives to question her about El Mariachi. She hides El Mariachi and convinces Bucho she doesn't know anything. Bucho leaves, and Carolina finishes stitching up El Mariachi's wounds. That evening, Carolina gives El Mariachi a new guitar and he plays for her before they make passionate love. Meanwhile, Bucho realizes that Carolina lied to him and orders his men to burn the bookstore down with her in it. In the morning, Bucho's men arrive and attack them while setting the bookstore ablaze. The two fight their way out of the burning building and onto a local rooftop, where El Mariachi gets a clear shot at Bucho but suddenly refuses to kill him. The two take refuge in a hotel room.

Bucho gathers his men and tells them to kill anyone they see in town that they don't know. Realizing that Bucho will never stop hunting them, El Mariachi calls his friends Campa and Quino in to help. The trio meet up on the edge of town and encounter Bucho's goons. A massive gun battle ensues, and most of Bucho's goons along with Campa and Quino are killed. El Mariachi sees the kid he met earlier lying on the ground shot and rushes to help him. Carolina steals a truck and they rush the boy to a hospital. After dropping him off, the pair head over to Bucho's compound to confront him directly. El Mariachi reveals that he couldn't shoot Bucho earlier because they are brothers. Bucho offers him a deal; if he lets Bucho kill Carolina then Bucho will forgive everything else. El Mariachi produces guns from his sleeves and kills his brother, shooting his way out of the compound. He and Carolina visit the boy in the hospital before El Mariachi leaves on his own. Carolina catches up to him on the road and picks him up. The two drive away together with the guitar case full of guns.



Rodriguez's friend Quentin Tarantino has a cameo as "Pick-up Guy". Carlos Gallardo, who played the title role of El Mariachi, appears in Desperado as Campa, a friend to Banderas' Mariachi.[4] Since Banderas replaced Gallardo as the actor for the main character of the series, the filmmakers re-shot the final showdown from El Mariachi as a flashback sequence for Banderas' character in Desperado.[5]

Raúl Juliá was originally cast as Bucho but died before production began on October 24, 1994.[6]

The entire film was filmed in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, across from Del Rio, Texas.[6]

After it was submitted to the MPAA, the movie was rated NC-17 due to graphic violence and it had to be severely cut for an R rating. Amongst the scenes that were trimmed are the deaths of Quentin Tarantino's character and his friend at the bar, as well as Danny Trejo's character.[7] By far the most major excision came at the end of the film, which originally contained a large-scale shootout between El Mariachi, Carolina, Bucho and his thugs at Bucho's mansion. However, owing to the amount of footage the MPAA demanded be removed from the scene, Rodriguez elected to remove the sequence in its entirety, giving the film its current fade-out ending.[7] Two additional scenes were also deleted featuring the codpiece gun (seen in the guitar case). Originally, the gun was used by El Mariachi during the second bar shootout when he uses it to shoot the first thug before whipping out his pistols from his sleeves and finishing him off. In a second deleted scene, the crotch gun was to go off accidentally while Banderas is in bed with Hayek, blowing a hole through the guitar while they were playing it.[7] The gun was eventually used in unrelated Rodriguez's films From Dusk till Dawn and Machete Kills.


The film's score is written and performed by the Los Angeles rock band, Los Lobos, performing Chicano rock and traditional Ranchera music. Their performance of "Mariachi Suite" won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance at the 1995 Grammy Awards.[8] Other artists on the soundtrack album include Dire Straits, Link Wray, Latin Playboys and Carlos Santana. Musician Tito Larriva has a small role in the film, and his band, Tito & Tarantula, contributed to the soundtrack as well.


Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 62% of 39 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 6.4/10.[9] Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote that the film "could scarcely be more dazzling on a purely visual level, but it's mortally anemic in the story, character and thematic departments."[5] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly rated the film "B" and praised the action sequences despite the lack of characterization.[10] Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote, "Overdependence on violence also marginalizes Desperado as a gun-slinging novelty item, instead of the broader effort toward which this talented young director might have aspired."[11] Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times rated it 2/4 stars and wrote, "What happens looks terrific. Now if he can harness that technical facility to a screenplay that's more story than setup, he might really have something."[12] Desson Howe of The Washington Post wrote, "[T]he commercial transition has been remarkably successful. This is primarily thanks to Rodriguez, who not only retains the original movie's kinetic flair, but takes it further."[13] Bob McCabe of Empire rated it 4/5 stars and wrote, "It's big, it's daft, but Desperado is confident and hugely entertaining filmmaking."[14] Heidi Strom of the Daily Press wrote, "A pure adrenaline rush from start to finish, "Desperado" will shock, amuse, thrill and disgust – but never disappoint."[4]


  1. ^ "Desperado".  
  2. ^ "Desperado (1995)". Box Office Mojo. 1995-10-03. Retrieved 2011-09-23. 
  3. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Desperado". Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  4. ^ a b Strom, Heidi (1995-09-01). "`Desperado' Burns Up Screen".  
  5. ^ a b McCarthy, Todd (1995-05-25). "'"Review: 'Desperado.  
  6. ^ a b Baumgarten, Marjorie (1995-09-01). "Desperado Hours For a Few Dollars More".  
  7. ^ a b c Robert Rodriguez DVD commentary
  8. ^ Aldama, Frederick Luis (2014). The Cinema of Robert Rodriguez.  
  9. ^ "Desperado (1995)".  
  10. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (1995-08-25). "Desperado".  
  11. ^ Maslin, Janet (1995-08-25). "Desperado (1995)".  
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger (1995-08-25). "Desperado".  
  13. ^ Howe, Desson (1995-08-25). "'Desperado'".  
  14. ^ McCabe, Bob. "Desperado".  

External links

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