Plot: What’s it about?
After he has suffered through losing his true love, as well as damage to his hand, El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) is seeking to settle the score, with whomever crosses his path. The man he wishes to track down is Bucho (Joaquim de Almeida), a local drug runner with deep connections, but he will erase anyone who stands in his way, without hesitation. Bucho is aware of El Mariachi’s plans to an extent, so his men are on full alert and as a special precaution, some extra forces have been called in, just to eliminate the threat at hand. As he hews a path through Bucho’s men and gets closer to his goal of vengeance, El Mariachi runs into some interesting folks, including a small boy and a very beautiful woman, Carolina (Salma Hayek). His past is shadowed in mystery and unknowns, but he will soon reveal all and if he can locate Bucho, the event will be soaked with blood and buried in empty shells. Is there more than meets the eye in terms of El Mariachi & Bucho and when they meet, who will survive the intense war that is sure to follow?
Although Hong Kong has produced a number of excellent gun based action flicks, the U.S. movie industry hasn’t been as successful in that respect. Some great ones have surfaced to be sure, but on the whole, those kind of flicks aren’t made as well here, which is why Desperado is that much more appreciated. A pseudo sequel to director Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi, this is one stylish, explosive action picture, to be sure. The story is your basic revenge plot and the acting is stable, though not too impressive, but Desperado delivers in terms of style and action. In this case, that is what matters in the end and as such, I think this turns out to be a terrific motion picture. Rodriguez takes a few cues from action master John Woo and spins together some great shootouts here, including an awesome one toward the film’s close. Desperado can’t match the elite action films in terms of gunplay, but it puts on a good show and stands as a welcome addition, without a doubt. You won’t find a whole lot in terms of storyline or character work, but Desperado has the action and a keen sense of humor to boot. This Superbit edition packs a substantial improvement in audio & video, but lacks the bonus materials of the Desperado & El Mariachi double feature, so decide which department is more important or do like me, make both discs part of your collection.
The role of El Mariachi in this film is the focal point of the point, so whoever landed the role had an important position to fill. In the end, the part went to Antonio Banderas, who seems like the natural choice to tackle the character. He obviously has the look needed to make El Mariachi seem dangerous, but also likable, but I had some doubts about he’d handle the action scenes. Those doubts were demolished however, as Banderas wields his weapons with ease and each time I see Desperado, I like the action sequences that much more. In addition to his action based demands, Antonio is also able to work some great chemistry with his leading lady, which is also very important here. Other films with Banderas include Four Rooms, Philadelphia, Assassins, The Mask of Zorro, Spy Kids, and White River. The cast here also includes Salma Hayek (Wild Wild West, From Dusk ‘Til Dawn), Joaquim de Almeida (One Man’s Hero, La Cucaracha), Cheech Marin (Up in Smoke, Tin Cup), and Steve Buscemi (Billy Madison, Reservoir Dogs).
Video: How does it look?
Desperado is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. If you want proof that Superbit delivers, this disc has it in spades, as this transfer is a massive improvement over the previous edition. The transfer used here was taken from a new high definition master and it shows, as it trounces the original version in all respects. The image is super sharp, with pinpoint details evident, down to the very smallest of touches. In addition, the colors seem richer and more effective, while flesh tones are natural at all times. The contrast is also improved, with much richer, more refined black levels, which enhance the visuals to a great extent. Simply put, this transfer blows the prior one out of water, chalk up another one for Superbit here.
Audio: How does it sound?
You’ll find both Dolby Digital & DTS 5.1 surround options here and while both are great tracks, the DTS choice steals the show. The DTS option seems to enhance the audio in all respects, from the powerful action scenes, to the musical score, to the more reserved sequences. But both tracks sound terrific, so even if you don’t have a DTS system, you’ll find an active, more than effective audio experience. The rear channels are active throughout and never seem gimmicky, which is good news, as the atmosphere remains as intended. As I mentioned before, Los Lobos’ musical score sounds excellent here also, while dialogue is crisp and always in fine form. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes no bonus materials.