B-movie heroes - Robert Rodriguez

If there is one man who defines what this blog is about, it is Robert Rodriguez.

He takes a blockbuster budget and pumps it in to the kind of grindhouse tosh that people actually want to see. Hit the jump and salute:


Born in Texas to a Mexican family, Robert Rodriguez failed to get the grades to study film, his passion since he was a child. Taking the underdog route, Rodriguez won a scholarship with an award-winning short film, Bedhead. From there, he made cheap-as-chips Spanish action film El Mariachi. The movie cost $7,000 and was mostly funded by Rodriguez donating his body to medical trials. Featuring a 'Mariachi' balladeer turned ultra-violent folk hero, the film became a trilogy, with the second part starting Rodriguez' long-term collaboration with Quentin Tarantino, which was to carry over into From Dusk Til Dawn. Since then, Rodriguez has tried his hand at teen horror, kid's movies and scifi sequels, but he's always returned to his roots - good, old-fashioned B-movies, and all with a flavour of his Mexican heritage and a basic political stance on Latino rights.

B-movie highlights


El Mariachi saw drug dealers mistake a simple guitar player for an assassin with a guitar case full of guns, kill his girlfriend and shoot his hand, ending his career. Wanting revenge, the Mariachi takes up the guitar case of death and begins a Robin Hood-like crusade to clear Mexico of narcotics. This is both a sequel and a remake, since many of the less-well thought out aspects of El Mariachi are retconned. The character becomes a cross between Rambo and a Mexican James Bond, and the result is awesome, as evidenced by the big-name cast the script attracted: a career-best Antonio Banderas, a sultry Salma Hayek, ever-wonderful Steve Buscemi and a career breakthrough from Danny Trejo. Packed with great fight scenes and clever moments, Desperado spawned another sequel that wasn't really up to much and starred Enrique Inglesias - you're better off sticking with Desperado.

Sin City

Rodriguez was the perfect choice to bring Frank Miller's greatest opus to the screen. That most-celebrated of comic-book authors created a world of noir heroes, dangerous femme fatales, malicious serial killers and samurai prostitutes, all rendered in glorious monochrome, with the odd flash of colour. Rodriguez had the sense to know that all he had to do was put the comic's frames up on screen with some great performances from a great cast, and this one is even better than Desperado. The story's portmanteau structure brings us Mickey Rourke's come back as brutal-but-heroic man-child Marv; Clive Owen as unflappable, boyscout protector of women Dwight; and Bruce Willis' incorruptible super-cop Hartigan, not to mention Rosario Dawson, Devon Aoki, a halfway-descent performance from Jessica Alba, Benicio Del Toro, Britney Murphy, Rutger Hauer, Elijah Wood, Michael Clarke Duncan, Carla Gugino, Josh Hartnett, Michael Madsen, Nick Stahl... This is one of the greatest bits of cinema of the 21st century; unfortunately, we're still waiting on the sequel.


Another epic cast for another epic movie: Trejo's first leading role, Robert DeNiro, Alba again, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, Tom Savini... Lindsey Lohan?! Yes, this is a cast so amazing, it started as a gag. Tarantino and Rodriguez split directing duties on a double-whammy homage to Z-movies that forgot to actually be any fun, but between the movies was a string of parody trailers for films that didn't exist. So positive was the reaction to the idea of Trejo as the Mexican, ultra-violent Shaft that Rodriguez just had to make the full film, and he has great fun finding ways to shoe horn all the crazy clips from the trailer into a semi-logical plot, and the result is sheer joy. If you ever cheered when The Governator deadpanned "stick around", this is your kind of movie.

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