Friday, June 02, 2006


BANDIDAS: Unexpectedly Good! Irresistibly Charming!
By Reymundo Salao

Set in Mexico in the 1800s, a violently strong banking corporation is moving in on Mexican lands, trying to muscle out the Mexicans off their own land. A spoiled brat lady and a farmer's daughter find themselves victims of such oppression, and together have bonded to unite in a cause against the banking corporation. Eventually, the two became bank robbers, bandidas who rob the oppressors to avenge and restore the rightful property of their people.

This movie is based upon the idea of its producer, the highly respected film director-producer Luc Besson, who was responsible for films like Leon: The Professional and The Fifth Element. Bandidas is directed by Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg.

Being a big fan of Sergio Leone's classic Spaghetti westerns (like the Clint Eastwood classics "A Fistful of Dollars, The Good, The Bad, & the Ugly, and the Charles Bronson revenge epic "Once Upon A Time in the West"), I appreciated the manner in which the director employed subtle Sergio Leone shots and sequences, not to mention a little of Ennio Morricone's music to spice up the little moments of Sergio Leone homage. But, of course, the film has the fast pace of a typical enjoyable action-adventure. There is one action sequence wherein the technique of bullet-time (as pioneered by the Matrix movies) was smartly used in a well done, impressive sequence.

In terms of brands and generalizations, the closest in comparison to this movie, being a popcorn action chick flick, is Charlie's Angels. But while the Charlie's Angels and its sequel may have been crammed with absolute unoriginality and badly-recycled tricks, Bandidas, on the other hand, is quite healthy with its own potentials. First of all, these 2 main characters are very attractive, not only in terms of beauty and sufficient cleavage exposure, but also in terms of their onscreen chemistry, their chuckle-worthy bickerings and arguements, not to mention their vibrant aura onscreen.

Penelope Cruz, for instance, who plays a somewhat simpleminded farmgirl acts convincingly dumbed down, to have the appeal which reminds you of Joey and Phoebe from the Friends TV series. Salma Hayek as the sophisticated and educated brat shows a radiant and spunky side of her on this role. i cant believe how delightfully ageless salma hayek and penelope cruz are on this movie. While their nagging arguements may sounds a bit annoying in the trailers, I eventually grew to realize that when you watched the movie in its entirety, their noisy arguments are indeed hilarious and oftentimes cute. Although it's such a forgettable role, country singer Dwight Yoakam pulled off a satisfactory performance as the main villain of this movie. Sam Sheppard also appears as the Bandidas' mentor. And the film also stars Steve Zahn, who plays a quirky young scientist who obviously is trying to pioneer the science of crime forensics.

There is a thought-provoking pro-Mexican, Anti-american colonialism plot in this movie, which I suspect may be the reason why this film isn’t out on US theaters yet; it isn’t even listed to be set for release in US theaters anytime soon. Which is a shame, since this film really deserves a spotlight attention. Sure, it’s a mere popcorn flick, but it’s good as one.

Do not be fooled by the film's lack of, or unappealing sense of marketing; this film really is big and deserves a summer blockbuster treatment. It’s unexpectedly good! It’s irresistibly charming! BANDIDAS is the summer big action-adventure that not many have known of yet.

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