The Frida Cinema

Orange County's Year-Round Film Festival


In a world where drug lords uniformly wear all white and guitar cases hide rocket launchers, witness one of the most staggering displays of non-stop ultraviolence ever put to celluloid: writer, producer, and director Robert Rodriguez’ Desperado!  

Fresh from the surprise success of his micro-budget directorial debut El Mariachi, Rodriguez continued his saga in a hybrid sequel/remake that revisits world’s coolest gun-toting mariachi, but this time armed with the most dangerous weapon of all — a Hollywood budget.  Antonio Banderas stars as the nameless vigilante simply called “El Mariachi,” travelling from pueblo to pueblo on a mission to wipe out drug lords.  When he arrives in the small town of Santa Cecilia, controlled by the vicious drug lord Bucho (Joaquim de Almeida), all out warfare erupts – which doesn’t keep our mariachi from finding time to fall in love with Carolina (Salma Hayek), an idealistic bookstore owner whose relationship to Bucho complicates an already volatile situation. 

Banderas is at the height of his cine-sensuality in Rodriguez’ pioneering exercise in mainstream Mexploitation, which features supporting performances from Cheech Marin, Quentin Tarantino, Steve Buscemi, and a dynamite turn from Danny Trejo.  Crazy, sexy, and astonishingly cool, Desperado is a ’90s action classic that most definitely merits inclusion in our Frida After Dark series, and a revisit or first-time-watch on the big screen. 

“A bust-a-gut film experience that reveals Rodriguez as both a stylist versed in the mechanics of popular storytelling and a maverick whose ingenuity guides him along a singular path.”
 — Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle

“Rodriguez’s second feature may be a rambling, derivative exercise in gratuitous violence, but its determination to proceed as if the word ‘restraint’ never existed makes for gleeful entertainment.” — Geoff Andrew, Time Out

A supreme example of style vs. substance – and style wins!” — Brian McKay,