Filmed in two weeks on a budget of 7,000 dollars, El Mariachi was one of the singular pleasures of the 1993-1994 movie season. Kind-spirited guitarist El Mariachi (Carlos M. Gallardo) simply wants to wander through life as his father and grandfather did, with a song in his heart and a smile on his lips. He wanders into a small mob-run town, guitar case in hand. It so happens that the local criminal element is awaiting the arrival of vicious hit man Azul (Reinol Martinez), who is well known for carrying his weapons in...a guitar case. Just when you think you've got a lock on what's going to happen next, director Robert Rodriguez throws us for a loop, unexpectedly alternating whimsical comedy with graphic violence. Rodriguez later retooled the plot of El Mariachi for his far more expensive (and far less satisfying) Antonio Banderas vehicle Desperado (1995).
by Hal Erickson synopsis