Hola, mi amigos! It’s Señor Dash Jordan here, and I’ve actually just realized something. It’s been a really, REALLY long time since I’ve done a Top Ten list. Well, I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I should list for you guys. What better time than now? With that said, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I dedicate this Top Ten to a truly multi-talented filmmaker and his filmography. I’m talking about none other than Robert Rodriguez.
Director, producer, screenwriter, editor, musician, the man can do it all in his sleep. Starting off as an indy filmmaker, he has always had a knack for handling almost every responsibility behind the scenes of the majority of his movies; most of which have since become some of the best cult films of the modern era. If you couldn’t tell, I have nothing but the utmost respect for R-Rod. Probably one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make, because I love every single film on this list. But, I gotta do what I gotta do, no matter how much it’s gonna hurt. *sighs* Vamanos, Dash! Let’s get started.
Okay, I know what most of you guys are thinking. Trust me, ‘Spy Kids’ will be the only kids film to make it on this list. I’ll even admit, I’m not the biggest fan of Rodriguez’s more “family-friendly” movies. Sure, the ‘Spy Kids’ franchise has definitely gotten worse with each sequel, ‘Shorts’ was a headache to sit through, and the less said about ‘Sharkboy & Lavagirl’, the better. However, I’ll go a little easy on the first ‘Spy Kids’ movie, I had a lot of memories with this one. No, it has nothing to do with the fact that I may or may not have had a little childhood crush on one of the actors…I swear.
What? Anyway, aside from that, the first ‘Spy Kids’ is actually enjoyable fun for both youngsters and parents. It’s a goofy and harmless premise with memorable characters, cheesy yet imaginative effects, and best of all, the film knows it’s a hokey kids film and doesn’t try to take itself seriously. It embraces its own cheesiness and it’s that self-awareness that helps give the film its own identity. So, it gets my respect and the honor of kicking off this list.
Yeah? Well, you’re adorable! Wait, that’s not offensive at all…moving on.
You wanna know the interesting thing about this movie and what helps it stand apart from R-Rod’s other films? It’s the most normal looking. I know, go figure. At the same time, ‘The Faculty’ is a pretty homage to old-school silly sci-fi horror flicks; from the recognizable actors to the outrageously outdated special effects.
Yep…still funny. As much as I enjoy this movie, I can’t forget to mention the script written Kevin Williamson, who always excels at writing horror-comedy and likable teen characters. ‘The Faculty’ may not be known for having Robert Rodriguez’s signature style, but Rodriguez and Williamson still manage to make this film a fun, witty, and campy sci-fi horror romp.
#8-Once Upon A Time In Mexico
The third and final installment of Rodriguez’s legendary ‘Mexico Trilogy’, some people tend to skip over this one because of the fact that El Mariachi(played by Antonio Banderas) was not featured enough. I’ll admit, I felt the same way the first time I’ve watched it. However, I can’t deny that fact the film was still enjoyable for what it was. ‘Once Upon A Time In Mexico’ was a cool and stylish action flick with an incredible cast; such as Selma Hayek, Willem Dafoe, Mickey Roarke, Eva Mendes, Danny Trejo, and Johnny Depp. Keep in mind, this was back when getting Johnny Depp in your movie was still the cool thing to do.
Remember what I said about how ‘The Faculty’ was lacking Robert Rodriguez’s trademark style? ‘Once Upon A Time In Mexico’ just oozes everything cool about Mexico. Not to say that you’ll see any shotgun guitars and blind gunmen anytime soon, but it’s still a pretty badass film, and one hell of a way to end the legend of El Mariachi.
Never in a million years would I ever think that this movie would happen. What originally started as a silly little fake trailer for the Rodriguez/Tarantino double-feature ‘Grindhouse’, eventually took on a life of its own and became one of the most insanely hilarious and awesome homages to B-grade action and the exploitation genre.
You’re going to hear these words a lot in this article…”doesn’t take itself seriously”. ‘Machete’ is absolutely bonkers! You can’t get any more gratuitous violence, gore, swear words, nudity, and stereotypes than this. I knew that this wasn’t going to be a thought-provoking kind of movie going in, and I still had a lot of fun watching it. We also get a great cast that includes Cheech Marin, Michelle Rodriguez, Steven Seagal, Jessica Alba, Robert De Niro, and the then-underrated Danny Trejo who finally gets to take center stage amongst all the chaos and insanity. Trejo is a real MexiCAN, and was born for this role. Looking for something stupid yet fun? Here you go!
Ah, yes! This is what you call both a classic and an inspiration to many future independent filmmakers. Robert Rodriguez’s very first movie, as well as the very first of the ‘Mexico Trilogy’; all about a musician looking for work until he gets caught in a terrible mix-up with a gang looking for another guy carrying a guitar case; which just so happens to contain an assortment of guns.
While not as flashy and bombastic as the sequels, this movie still has great action, impressive cinematography, and a truly sympathetic protagonist(played by Carlos Gallardo). With such a thin plot and an even thinner budget of $7,000, ‘El Mariachi’ manages to help put Robert Rodriguez on the map. I think it goes without saying that if it wasn’t for ‘El Mariachi’, I wouldn’t be writing this list. It’s truly the most cherished and important films he’s ever made.
Okay, remember how I said that nothing could top the sheer insanity of ‘Machete’? Yeah, I lied. How this sequel got less positive feedback than the original is beyond me. ‘Machete Kills’ takes everything that was awesome, outrageous, and exploitative about ‘Machete’ and cranks it up to 20. People knew what they were getting into with the first movie, so they should’ve been more than pleased with how ridiculous the sequel turned out. I mean, who could honestly take this crap seriously?!?
Need more proof of how crazy this sequel is? How about some extra sci-fi crap, Mel Gibson as the villain, Lady Gaga, and Charlie Sheen as the President of the United States? Yes, all this actually happened. Say what you will, but this film is like a drug-induced joy ride. Familiar territory, sure. cheesy effects, of course. But, it’s still explosive and raunchy fun…oh yeah, ‘Machete Kills’ also has more of this.
Ay Dios mío, Alexa…Mi infancia fue tan hermoso. Hey, it’s my list and my rules alright? So, deal with it!
I bet you thought I was done with exploitation. As I’ve mentioned before on this list, ‘Grindhouse’ was marketed as a double feature from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino(Rodriguez’s ‘Planet Terror’ and Tarantino’s ‘Death Proof’). While I may think that Tarantino’s tribute to 1970s car-chase thrillers is a highly underrated and underappreciated gem, I will admit that R-Rod’s ultra-violent and super-cheeky zombie flick is the superior film.
‘Planet Terror’ is pretty much on that same level of craziness and violence as the ‘Machete’ films. I mean, come on. A machine-gun-legged go-go dancer, a biochemist who collects testicles, and a zombie rapist with a melting penis…what am I even supposed to say to that? You know what, though? It’s that very insanity, as well as some awesome zombie-horror action and one hell of a catchy music score that makes this a great popcorn flick for Halloween. This movie just revels in its own gory goodness and is filled to the brim with B-grade cheese, I definitely recommend this one to any new horror fans. It’s Go-Go, not Cry-Cry.
I’m sure some of you remember when I reviewed the 2014 sequel, ‘A Dame To Kill For’, so I’ll try not to repeat myself too much. In that review, I mentioned that while I enjoyed the sequel for what it was, this 2005 adaptation is vastly superior. Not only that, but the film was also a huge game-changer for how comic-book movies should be filmed. In other words, it was because of the love and respect for Frank Miller’s work that was put into this adaptation that paved the way for other comic adaptations to be closer to the source material. Every line and frame in this movie were lifted straight from the graphic novel. This movie is a prime example of comic book characters coming to life.
Aside from the beautifully stylish noir elements and haunting yet jazzy score, the real heart of this film lies within the amazing cast; Bruce Willis, Mickey Roarke, Jessica Alba, Clive Owen, Rosario Dawson, Jamie King, Benicio Del Toro, the late, great Michael Clarke Duncan…
…and the late, great Brittany Murphy. I miss them both.
Back to the movie itself. I think it’s also worth pointing out that Frank Miller himself was also credited as co-director for this movie. However, it’s all because of Rodriguez’s love for these stories that helped convinced Frank Miller to let this adaptation be possible. Rodriguez clearly had great respect for the man’s work and it was because of this film that I gained the same amount of respect for Rodiguez as a filmmaker…fair trade. It was a truly a dark and stormy night when we all found ‘Sin City’ resting comfortably at the #3 spot.
Ohh! Speaking of a “dark night”…
#2-From Dusk Till Dawn
Rodriguez & Tarantino strike again, ramblers! So let’s get ramblin’! Crime-Thriller, Vampire flick, Action flick, I’d rather call it one of the most fun and entertaining movies ever made. With Rodriguez’s signature style of filmmaking and Tarantino’s signature style of storytelling, it’s no wonder why this movie may rank pretty high when people talk about some of the greatest Vampire films in history.
I’m sorry but I just can’t get over the sheer epicness that happens when Rodriguez & Tarantino work together. This is quality filmmaking at its finest because the two men are always in sync and bounce off one another like it’s nothing, and we love them both for it. What else makes this film so great? Some damn good effects, an unforgettable exotic dance from the lovely Selma Hayek, a slamming soundtrack, and a memorable cast; led by the King of Hollywood Bachelors himself, George Clooney!
There should be no reason why you haven’t seen this film yet, it’s arguably one of the best films from either Rodriguez or Tarantino. Most people may familiar with the TV series from Rodiguez’s El Rey Network, but this 1996 Vampire hybrid is what started it all. If you’re a fan or if you’re looking for some bloody good Vampire fun, pop in ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’. You won’t be disappointed. Maybe the sequels, but the first film is loads of fun.
…and now, here we are. The moment you’ve all best waiting for. I’ve listed some pretty great films in this article. In the end, however, there can be only one. So, here it is. The #1 best Robert Rodriguez movie is…
Hands down, this movie was Robert Rodriguez’s shining moment. Regarded by many as the best installment in the ‘Mexico Trilogy’, ‘Desperado’ takes everything that was simply amazing about ‘El Mariachi’, and somehow manages to top that on every aspect. Because of the success of ‘El Mariachi’, Rodriguez was granted an even bigger budget for the sequel and it really shows. From the gorgeous cinematography to the casting of Antonio Banderas, the movie just oozes with “cool”. That’s the best way I can describe it, this movie is just plain cool! Not only is this movie one of my all-time favorite action movies, it’s also the sexiest action movie ever made!
The great thing about this movie is that you don’t even have to see the first movie to know what’s going on. I mean, you should still see ‘El Mariachi’, it’s a classic. But ‘Desperado’ easily stands on its own. It’s a simple Western-style revenge tale that’s so easy to follow. But what makes it stand out from the rest is the action. The other action films I’ve mentioned on this list may have had a bigger budget, maybe even featured some special effects or some intense gore. ‘Desperado’ doesn’t even need all of that, only relying on a lot of guns and a lot of style; resulting in some of the best action movie shootouts in film history.
Aside from the badass and over-the-top action, ‘Desperado’ is also not afraid to have calmer moments and even a few jokes in between them. These moments are also surprisingly one of the better aspects of the movie. Unlike the majority of Rodriguez’s films, this movie actually takes the time to make you feel more invested in the overall story and not just the action. Part of this has to do with the acting; mostly from Antonio Banderas as El Mariachi. Replacing Carlos Gallardo who played the same titular character from ‘El Mariachi’, Banderas also gives us a sympathetic wanderer similar to the original but adds much more grit and attitude, while also giving that cool factor and smoothness that only Banderas can deliver.
What else could I possibly say? Amazing camera work, stylish action, the story, the gorgeous music, the on-screen chemistry between Antonio Banderas and Selma Hayek, this movie will always remain as the high-point of Robert Rodriguez’s career. This isn’t just the best film in the ‘Mexico Trilogy’, the best action movie, or the best film from Rodriguez, it’s one of the best movies ever made and I will fight anyone on this! If you’ve never seen ‘Desperado’ before, don’t even call yourself a Robert Rodriguez fan or even an action movie fan until you’ve watched this. Truly, ‘Desperado’ is the film to ever come from the man, the myth, the legend…El Rey himself, Robert Rodriguez.
Thanks, R-Rod! Happy Hispanic Heritage Month, you’re a true hero of the silver screen. Until next time…okay guys, just one more peek.
God, I love this job…and Hispanic Heritage. Until next time, Gotta Dash!
Written by Shane Moose
A special thanks to the three big F’s in my life(Friends, Family & Fans) for helping me get this far, pushing me to go even further and for putting up with me when I try going further than that. To hell with my limitations!
Videos & Photos:
Spy Kids(owned by Miramax Films, Dimension Films & Troublemaker Studios)
The Faculty(owned by Miramax Films, Dimension Films & Los Hooligans Productions)
Once Upon A Time In Mexico(owned by Columbia Pictures, Dimension Films & Troublemaker Studios)
Machete(owned by 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Releasing International, Overnight Films, Troublemaker Studios & Hyde Park Entertainment)
El Mariachi(owned by Columbia Pictures & Los Hooligans Productions)
Machete Kills(owned by Open Road Films, Quick Draw Productions & Troublemaker Studios)
Planet Terror(owned by Dimension Films, Rodriguez International Pictures & Troublemaker Studios)
Sin City(owned by Miramax Films, Dimension Films & Troublemaker Studios)
From Dusk Till Dawn(owned by Miramax Films, Dimension Films, A Band Apart & Los Hooligans Productions)
Desperado(owned by Columbi Pictures & Los Hooligans Productions)
Spy Kids: All The Time In The World(owned by The Weinstein Company, Dimension Films & Troublemaker Studios)