Desperado (1995)

(Second viewing, On TV, May 1999) “Oh, I’ll just re-watch the first fifteen minutes” (…) “Hmmm, I’ll just watch until after Salma Hayek comes in” (…) “Hey, there’s a good action scene coming up after the nude scene” (…) “Gee, what the heck, I’ll watch it all again”. Desperado sits on my Top-100 favorite movies list and re-watching it only highlights why it’s there: The story in itself is ordinary (man goes after bad guy, gets in gunfights, meets girl) but the treatment is superlative. The directing style is wonderfully kinetic, the script pushes everything over the top, Banderas and Hayek make a couple of Beautiful People… Desperado is a modern western with an far-east attitude, a mix of John Wayne and John Woo with a style of its own. If anything, it’s even more interesting the second time around, as you’re able to appreciate the technique even more. (Though the “missiles” effect now looks obvious.) Watch it again.

(Third viewing, On DVD, April 2004) Goodness gracious, I so love this film. The action scenes are low-budget miracles. The character introductions have seldom been more effective. The whole western-meets-Hong Kong-action vibe is delicious. The principal casting is perfect. Salma Hayek has rarely been so drop-dead gorgeous. I’m still pretty annoyed by the let-down ending, but at least the good audio commentary by writer/director Robert Rodriguez helps to explain why it feels like such a cheat. (While a bit less polished than his usual commentaries, Rodriguez’s track is very informative as to the technical making of the film) A smattering of small documentaries complete the special edition DVD package, a must for any action enthusiast.

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