Embedded with deadly danger and scintillating suspense, this crime thriller revolves around a professional hitman "El Mariachi", who is recruited by a psychotic CIA agent Sheldon Sands (Johnny Depp) to kill Armando Barillo (Willem Dafoe), a Mexican drug lord, who is planning a coup d'état against the President of Mexico. At the same time, El Mariachi seeks revenge against the corrupt general responsible for the death of his wife, Carolina (Salma Hayek).
This fiery spy thriller revolves around El Mariachi, an enigmatic and fearless man who is recruited by CIA agent Sheldon Sands to kill General Emiliano Marquez, a corrupt Mexican Army officer who has been hired by Mexican drug lord Armando Barillo to assassinate the President of Mexico and overthrow the government.
Many years before, El Mariachi and his wife Carolina confronted Marquez in a shootout and wounded the general; in retaliation, Marquez took the lives of Carolina and their daughter in an ambush. In addition to El Mariachi, Sands persuades former FBI agent Jorge Ramírez to come out of retirement and kill Barillo, who had murdered his partner Archuleta in the past. Furthermore, AFN operative Ajedrez is assigned by Sands to tail Barillo.
While monitoring Barillo's activities, Ramírez meets Billy Chambers, an American fugitive who has been living under the protection of Barillo, but can no longer stomach the horrible tasks he's been forced to carry out for him. Ramírez convinces Chambers he will provide him protection in exchange for getting closer to Barillo by tagging Chambers' pet chihuahua with a hidden microphone, and Chambers agrees to complete the deal by surrendering to U.S. authorities once Barillo has been taken down.
Cucuy, who was originally hired by Sands to keep an eye on El Mariachi, tranquilizes El Mariachi and brings him to Barillo's mansion. Cucuy, however, is promptly killed by Chambers while El Mariachi escapes from captivity and calls his friends Lorenzo and Fideo to assist him in his mission.
While monitoring Barillo's activity outside a hospital, Ramírez notices armed men storming the building and follows suit. He discovers that a group of doctors have been gunned down and Barillo has bled to death as a result of a botched facial reconstruction, but realizes that the corpse on the operating table is a body double before he is knocked out and kidnapped by the real Barillo and Ajedrez, who reveals herself to be Barillo's daughter. Sands realizes his mission has been compromised, but is too late, as he is captured by Barillo and Ajedrez—who drill out his eyes before sending him out. Despite his blindness, he manages to gun down a hitman tailing him with the aid of a young boy.
As the village celebrates Day of the Dead, Marquez and his army storm in and attack the presidential palace. The guerrillas, however, are met with resistance from not only the Mexican army, but the villagers and the Mariachis. Marquez enters the presidential palace, only to once again confront El Mariachi, who shoots out his kneecaps before finishing him off with a headshot. Ramírez, who was released from captivity by Chambers, faces Barillo.
After Barillo guns down Chambers, Ramírez and El Mariachi kill the drug lord. Sands manages to shoot the sadistic Ajedrez dead outside the presidential palace. Ultimately, Lorenzo and Fideo walk away with the loot that Barillo was using to pay Marquez, and escort the president to safety. Ramírez walks away, having accomplished his job. El Mariachi then gives his part of the loot to his village before walking into the sunset.
Factual Mistake The president wears the sash over his suit. The only time the president of Mexico wears the sash over his suit is when he is sworn into office.
Factual Mistake The Gun that Ajedrez uses is a revolver with a silencer, but this model revolver can not be silenced.
Crew/Equipment Visible At the bullfight, a cameraman is reflected in Sands' sunglasses.
Continuity El, Lorenzo, and Frideo are standing outside the church before going to preform for the president, El has a white ribbon tied in his hair, but when he walks into the church it's gone. A few moments later when the are on the roof his hair is up, then cut to Lorenzo and then back to El and his hair is down.
Continuity When Jorge uses white out to cover the INVALID stamp on his FBI badge, it is a sloppy job that will pass only the most casual inspection. Later, when he flashes the badge to Billy it looks perfect with no indication of alteration. However if you look carefully you can see the white "INVALID" writing on the badge. When Ajedrez subsequently has the badge, the white out is once again very visible.
Continuity In the opening scene, after Belini leaves the bar, Sands is seen taking off his fake arm with the yellowish piece of paper on the table in front of him containing the information given to him by Belini. The shot then shows Sands putting his fake arm in the bag, and when the next shot cuts back, the paper is missing from the table.
Continuity When Agent Sands is being tailed by the cartel hit-man, you can see the small pistol in his hand before he pulls it out of his trousers.
Continuity When Sands first meets the bubblegum-selling boy, the shots of the boy have been flipped - the writing on the pack is backwards.
Johnny Depp took 8 days to shoot all of his scenes, but didn't want to leave after his filming was done. So he suggested to Robert Rodriguez that he play a small part, the priest that Antonio Banderas talks to in the church, and use his Marlon Brando impression.
Johnny Depp improvised many lines where he was originally intended to swear.
The man Barillo hires as a body double was an assistant. There were no digital effects; the man looked as identical to Willem Dafoe as he did in the movie.
There is a kid dressed in a yellow t-shirt in all the films in the El mariachi (1992) trilogy.
The real guns the filmmakers intended to use were delayed at the Mexican border for two weeks, so for the first two weeks of filming only rubber prop guns were used, with all the visual effects added digitally in post production. At first, Antonio Banderas was so thrown off by using silent prop guns that he was mouthing "bam" noises as he fired off fake shots.
The role of Sands was originally intended for George Clooney. When he was unavailable, Robert Rodriguez considered Kurt Russell, Bruce Willis, Sean Penn, and Nicolas Cage before deciding on Johnny Depp.
The last movie Robert Rodriguez wrote as a member of the Writers' Guild of America. He left the WGA after completing the script saying that they "have too many rules and just take your money." He would later leave the Directors' Guild of America in early 2004, before the filming of Sin City (2005).
The Chihuahua has a name tag that says Moco on it. Moco (which means "booger" in colloquial Spanish) was the villain in El mariachi (1992).
Almost the entire gunfight in the church was filmed with rubber guns, almost no squibs, and no physical damage to the church. Nearly all bullets, blood, explosions, and physical damage were added in post production.
Salma Hayek's scenes were rescheduled in the shoot so as to allow her to complete filming of Frida (2002).
The ringtone for the cellphone that Sands gave to El Mariachi is "Canción Del Mariachi", the theme song of Desperado (1995). You can hear it for a very short time before El Mariachi answers the phone.
Once Upon a Time in Mexico 2003
12 Sep 2003 ● English ● 1 hr 42 mins
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