Plot: What’s it about?
Walter Pool (Eric Roberts) wants to pen an incredible novel, but finds himself limited by his dull existence. In an effort to liven up his boring life he decides to travel to Santiago, Mexico where he hopes he can finally achieve his dreams and finish his novel. He expects this to be a fruitful and exciting voyage, but soon discovers that things don’t always go as we would like them to. Before he can even become adjusted to his new surroundings Pool ends up robbed in brutal fashion by some thugs and left with nothing. Without money he is unable to stay in even the worst of houses and has little options on what to do. In a state of desperation Walter constructs and lives inside a cardboard shack outside the city, longing for his better days. His unstable state of mind is pushed even further when he becomes enamored with a woman he knows he can never have. Just when he thinks he has hit bottom, he is offered the chance to rise to the top, in the form of $100,000. A man who represents the local crime boss offers Pool that much money in exchange for him killing a man. He needs the money more than he can imagine, but he is unsure if he could murder another human being. With the chance to live his dreams a simple murder away, will Pool choose to listen to his morals or his inner desires?
While I did find the storyline somewhat interesting, I wasn’t expecting much from it when it arrived at my home to be reviewed. I looked at the cover and read the synopsis on the back and assumed this was a western driven movie, which turned not to be true at all. I’ve now seen the movie and it was not what I expected, but that doesn’t mean I was disappointed. This movie has elements of a western to be sure, but this is more of a suspense/thriller type of film. This movie has some nice twists and turns around a few corners and even surprised me a couple of times. The writing is solid in most scenes though some seem overdone and I was pleased with the overall acting of the cast, especially Eric Roberts. When you have a story with well developed character and a nice cast of talented actors, good things are bound to happen, and good things happen here. The thrills work well and the twists unfold better than I expected them to. I was surprised in a good way by the amount of dark humor found in this movie, which was a major factor in why I liked it. I recommend this movie as a rental to those who find the storyline interesting and if you like the movie the DVD is well worth your hard earned money.
This film was directed by Jack Perez, who has very limited experience in the world of directing though you’d never know from his work here. Perez summons a dark and desperate world for this movie and makes it very easy to understand the conflicts within Walter Pool, which is vital to the film’s impact. He is also able to conjure up some nice visual backdrops, though I am unsure of the intended compositions because I am not sure if this is the original aspect ratio. Perez might not have much time behind the camera but after seeing this movie I hope to see him return to directing soon. Perez also directed episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys as well as the feature film The Big Empty. If you’re an Eric Roberts fan this is one movie you cannot miss, as he gives a terrific performance and is always on camera it seems. Roberts (Runaway Train, Best of the Best) is excellent here and shows he still has the spark he showed early in his career. The supporting cast is also quite good and includes Alejandro Patino (Bowfinger, Very Mean Men), Joaquim de Almeida (Vendetta, Clear and Present Danger), and Tara Crespo (Totally Irresponsible, A Murder Of Crows).
Video: How does it look?
La Cucaracha is presented in a 1.33:1 or full frame transfer and I am unsure of the original aspect ratio. This appears to be the correct ratio to me since I saw no pan & scan and there seems to be no framing issues, few scenes seem to be composed with black bars in mind. This transfer looks good in every respect though it is not perfect, to be sure. The source print used shows no serious problems and I didn’t see many compression errors, outside of some minor edge enhancement. The colors look dark and natural and flesh tones look normal, I found no distortion within either. Contrast is sharp and accurate as well, shadows look deep and detail level seem natural.
Audio: How does it sound?
This release uses a Dolby Digital 5.1 track to power home the audio and I think it makes for a terrific audio experience. While this isn’t an active track all the time, the surrounds kick in when they need to and the audio never seems forced. I like the music used and it sounds rich in this mix. The dialogue never runs into any problems either, as all the vocals sound loud and clear at all times. This release also includes a 2.0 surround track as well as optional English and Spanish subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release contains a trailer for the film and some talent files. You’ll also find an audio commentary with director Jack Perez, who sheds some light on the production. This isn’t a loaded disc, but I am pleased with what has been included.