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Language Is No Barrier to Action of 'Mariachi'

March 25, 1993|LYNN SMITH | Lynn Smith is a staff writer for The Times' View section.

In "El Mariachi," a nice guy trying to find work as a mariachi in a small Mexican town is mistaken for a Mafia hit man and gets swept up in bloody gang warfare. In Spanish with English subtitles. (Rated R).

Friends Martha and Dolores, both 11, like to spend weekend afternoons movie-hopping with family. This afternoon, they all started out in "El Mariachi," but the parents and the uncle drifted away to "Sommersby" and the brother to "Best of the Best II." Only Martha and Dolores, who had already seen it once, remained for the whole show.

"It was good. It was, " Martha said as her friend nodded. She wanted to see it "because it's from my country and in the (television) commercial it sounds good," said Martha, who was born in Mexico.

"This is my first time seeing, like, a long movie," Martha said, explaining that most of the Spanish-language shows she sees are half-hour television programs. Neither girl had to read the subtitles, and they giggled over all the bad words they got to hear in the movie, even though, like most 11-year-olds of the '90s, they said they already knew most of them.

The girls were unaware of the sensation made by director Robert Rodriguez, who reportedly created this movie for a mere $7,000. They just liked his film, sympathizing with the mariachi, admiring the girl, hating the villain and laughing at the comic touches.

"It's funny in some ways, and it's sad," Dolores said. "Instead of getting good luck, the mariachi got bad luck."

Added Martha: "It's sad because he kills everybody. There are a lot of murders." But then again, "I like that kind of stuff."

"It wasn't too bloody for you?" I asked.

"No, it didn't bother me," said Martha, who also enjoys such movies as "Child's Play," "Pet Sematary" and "The Terminator." Her favorite part? "When they shoot him through the hand right here," she said brightly, holding up her five fingers.

She conceded, "I don't think little kids should see it. But kids like us should."

They didn't mind the low-budget phoniness of purple splotchy wounds, but Dolores noticed moving lips on an actor who was supposed to be dead. Overall, Martha found the plot original and surprising, and in her opinion, "it was very good acting."

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