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DVD REVIEW

Desperado - Special Edition  (1995)

 

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Joaquim De Almeida, Salma Hayek, Steve Buscemi, Cheech Marin, Quentin Tarantino

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Rating: R

Distributor: Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment

Release Date: August 26, 2003
Review posted: August 22, 2003

Spoilers: None

 

Reviewed by Dennis Landmann

 

"Bless me, Father, for I have just killed quite a few men." - El Mariachi

 

Synopsis

 

A gunslinger (Banderas) is embroiled in a war with a local drug runner (De Almeida).

 

Critique

 

Desperado is an explosive, kick-ass, and highly enjoyable film! A loose sequel to El Mariachi, Robert Rodriguez takes a fairly simple story and turns it into a high-octane, full-fledged action spectacle. Action and shootouts aside, Desperado also finds time for some quiet moments. Rodriguez knows this story and creates some very intense and fun action sequences to balance the dramatic arc. The film focuses on revenge after all, and the intensity of it transcends to the screen in great form and fashion. Not all revenge plots are interesting, and sometimes they can be boring because viewers donít really care about the characters.

 

However, this is not the case with Desperado, because Rodriguezís script is careful to establish the characters in the most effective ways. Case in point, Antonio Banderas is terrific as the mysterious guitar player. He can be deadly (shooting a lot bullets), compassionate (romancing a love interest), and friendly (talking to a young boy with his guitar). So yeah, his character is worth following around to see what will happen to him. His chemistry with Salma Hayek is great. Hayek makes a pretty good impression here, showing some fine character depth and giving off some cool sex appeal. Joaquim De Almeida turns in a cold, but great performance as the bad guy. Cheech Marinís bartender is priceless, as is Quentin Tarantinoís piss-beer scene. Their exits are inevitable, but their stay is enjoyable. But wait, letís not forget Steve Buscemi.

 

Thereís not much else left to say here. Desperado kicks ass! What more do you need to know? What more can I say to make you watch this film? Certainly, the action will please any action fan. Sure, itís all pretty violent, but itís also enjoyable to watch. For a $7 million budget, Rodriguezís film sure looks double that. Pulling that off is not easy, mind you. Well, what are you waiting for? Desperado is highly recommended.

 

The Video

 

Columbia Tristar presents Desperado in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This new release features the same video quality as the previous special edition 2-pack (including El Mariachi). The detail is quite excellent, while colors are usually pretty bright and well-saturated. The print image is sharp and clean throughout most of the film. Compression artifacts or pixelation does not occur. Black levels have depth and flesh tones are accurate. The video transfer here is pretty damn good and suits the film very well.

 

The Audio

 

Columbia Tristar presents Desperado in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. This audio presentation also just about equals the quality of the prior special edition release. On the whole this track is pretty cool. Exchanges of gunfire and the roaring explosions make for some nice surround activity, with the rear speakers working very actively. Dialog remains clear and easy to understand. Again, the quality here is excellent. On a side note, this release does not add the DTS track from the Superbit edition.

 

You can also choose to view the film in French 5.1 Surround Sound, as well as Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Surround.

 

The Extras

 

The great thing about this special edition is the terrific, informative, educational, and continuous commentary by Robert Rodriguez. His comments never restrict to scene-specific stuff. Instead, Rodriguez fills this track with a lot of technical information, as well as many interesting and educational production anecdotes. The amount of detail present here is overwhelming, but also very rewarding. It appears he never takes a breather as his comments just flow out one after another. This track is highly recommended; excellent stuff!

 

Also included here is the 10 More Minutes with Robert Rodriguez documentary, entitled "Anatomy of a Shootout." This is a great resource of information and educational value, as you see different aspects of how Rodriguez orchestrates the film, from the storyboards to the pre-visualization of scenes using a video camera. Itís a pretty detailed look at the making of the film. This is cool stuff.

 

Next is a sneak peek at Once Upon a Time in Mexico, the third film in the series to conclude the El Mariachi trilogy. The series of behind-the-scenes clips run about 4 and half minutes, including some exciting footage and interviews with the major cast members, including Antonio Banderas, Johnny Depp, and Salma Hayek. But for some reason Rodriguez doesnít appear in here.

 

Rounding out the extras is the filmís Theatrical Trailer, plus bonus trailers for Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Love and a Bullet, as well as brief filmographies.

 

This special edition DVD release is basically the same thing as the previous one as the commentary and documentary is reproduced. This release only exists as part of Columbiaís marketing move to give fans of the series a brief sneak peek at the upcoming third film. There is no reason for anyone owning the previous special edition release to upgrade as presentations and extras are of the same great quality. By the way, the new cover art designed especially for this re-release looks freaking awful! Just thought I'd lay down my two cents on that issue.

 

You can select to view the film with optional English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai, and Chinese (Mandarin) subtitles. The DVDís menus are not animated. The 103-minute feature is organized into twenty-eight chapters.

 

Overall

 

Iíll say it here again. This special edition re-release is nothing more than a strategic marketing move. Anyone with the previous DVD doesnít need to get this one. However, for those of you who donít own the special edition, get it now! Even if you have the Superbit, the video/audio quality is nearly the same. The extras here are worth the purchase price alone, but first and foremost itís Desperado as a film that makes me recommend this DVD; generally speaking. On the other hand, this DVD comes highly recommended to consumers new to this film or special edition.

 

RATINGS SUMMARY

 

THE MOVIE

8

THE VIDEO

9

THE AUDIO

9

THE EXTRAS

6

OVERALL (not an average)

8

 

VERDICT: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

 


 

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