Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)

Genre(s): Action / Drama / Thriller
Columbia || R - 101 minutes - $14.94 || January 20, 2004
Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2004-01-21

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Writer(s): Robert Rodriguez (written by)
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Johnny Depp, Ruben Blades, Eva Mendes, Willem Dafoe, Mickey Rourke, Cheech Marin

Theatrical Release Date: September 12, 2003

Supplemental Material:
  • Director Commentary
  • Soundtrack/Sound Effects Only Track
  • 10 Minute Flick School
  • 10 Minute Cooking School
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Film is Dead: An Evening with Robert Rodriguez
  • The Anti-Hero's Journey
  • The Good, the Bad and the Bloody
  • Trailers

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French

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.::THE FILM::.

The best way to summarize Once Upon a Time in Mexico is that it is a fun and very entertaining film to watch. I am sure almost all of that can be attributed to Robert Rodriguez and his unique style of filmmaking. Once Upon a Time in Mexico is made in the typical "over-the-top" or "comic book" fashion that Desperado and El Mariachi were made in. However, I will say that it felt like Once Upon a Time in Mexico was a step down from Desperado, which was a film that I enjoyed greatly. The plot in Once Upon a Time in Mexico is at times hard to follow and the many characters in the film sometimes get a little confusing. Johnny Depp however, steals every scene that he is in and provides a great comedic performance. The rest of the supporting cast is also fun to watch througout the film.

The film provides good action sequences, good performances, and great music. Although the film is far from perfect, it is still a very entertaining and enjoyable film to watch.


Commentaries: The commentary tracks from Robert Rodriguez are both very informative and very interesting to listen to. In his audio commentary of the film, he discusses a lot of the different locations he used as well as some of the camera techniques he used to shoot the film so quickly. The commentary by Rodriguez in he Soundtrack/Sound Effects track is also very interesting to listen to. He goes into detail about each theme that he uses as well as the details about the sound design for the film.


"Ten Minute Flick School" - The "Ten Minute Flick School," which has pretty much the same format that Rodriguez used in his "Ten Minute Flick School" featurettes in the Desperado Special Edition as well as the El Mariachi Special Edition, is a good featurette to watch. It goes behind the scenes of the film and shows several different techniques they used for special effects during the film.

"Inside Troublemaker Studios" - I found this featurette to be the most interesting on the DVD. Rodriguez goes behind the scenes of his home studio and shows why he makes films so fast and so cheap. Rodriguez is able to cut, do special effects, compose, and sound mix all in his home studio. After watching this featurette, I came to realize that Rodriguez is probably the most efficient filmmaker working in Hollywood today. His love for filmmaking really elevates this featurette from just a standard "behind the scenes" or "making of" featurette that we typically see on DVD's.

"Ten Minute Cooking School" - This was easily the most odd featurette on the entire DVD. Rodriguez teaches you how to make the slow roasted pork dish that Johnny Depp's character liked in the film. It really doesn't have anything to do with the making of the film, but if you want to know how to make that dish for some reason, Rodriguez will teach you step by step.

Deleted Scenes: These were pretty standard. None of the deleted scenes were anything special and many of them were just extensions of previous scenes we already saw in the film.

"Film Is Dead: An Evening with Robert Rodriguez" - This was another featurette that I enjoyed watching. Robert Rodriguez talks about how he "converted" to High Definition/Digital filming from the standard Film that most directors use today. Rodriguez really goes into detail about the pros of shooting digital and the cons of shooting on film. If you are a future filmmaker, this is a great featurette to watch and learn from.

"The Anti-Hero's Journey" - Robert Rodriguez's pure love for filmmaking is again shown in this short documentary. This featurette goes behind the scenes of Once Upon a Time in Mexico as well as the backround of the "El Mariachi" trilogy. Rodriguez talks about how the series all started and where it ends today.

"The Good, the Bad, and the Bloody: A Look at the Special Effect" - This is also a fun featurette to watch. Rodriguez and the special effect designers show you all the techniques they used to get various special effects shots during the film. Again, if you are a future filmmaker, it is a nice featurette to watch if you want to learn the tricks of making a movie fast and cheap.

Trailers: The film comes with about 10+ trailers for various films from Sony. It has the Redband trailer for Once Upon a Time in Mexico, which is the trailer that doesn't have to be edited down for theaters as well as the Greenband trailer, which does have to be edited down. There is also a mini trailer for Desperado as well as El Mariachi. They also include trailers for Hellboy, Big Fish, The Missing, Underworld, In the Cut and a few other films.


The sound for the film is good, but does all flat in some areas. The music tracks all sound great, but in a few action scenes, the various sounds fall flat. I guess this may be because Rodriguuz shot everything on such a low budget that they really weren't looking for such an extensive sound design. The picture quality is very good. I think most of that can be attributed to the fact that Rodriguez shot the film Digitally, which makes the appearance of the film much more clean. But it does have a few spots where the image seems a little blurred. But like I mentioned earlier, it is most likely because Rodriguez shot the film so quickly.


If you were a fan of the film then I would definitely recommend that you buy the DVD. The sound and picture are not perfect, but still very good. The special features are almost all very good and interesting to watch. Many of them might appear to be standard and boring throw-away features that we find on many DVD's these days. But it is Robert Rodriguez's love and passion for filmmaking truly elevates each featurette into something fun and great to watch.