''El Mariachi'' is a 1992 independent film by Creator/RobertRodriguez. It is his first feature length film, and the first of the ''Mexico'' or ''Mariachi'' Trilogy, followed by ''Film/{{Desperado}}'' and ''Film/OnceUponATimeInMexico''.

A mariachi searching for work in Mexico ends up getting mistaken for gangster Azul. Azul has been marked for death by a former associate Moco, and Azul is trying to kill Moco first. Things get much worse for our protagonist when he starts living with Moco's love interest and his guitar and case get switched for Azul's guitar case of guns.

This film is quite well known for being made on a $7,000 budget, which is very low by Hollywood standards -- Rodriguez states that the Columbia Pictures logo that appears before the movie cost more than the movie itself took to make. Rodriguez made almost half of this money by volunteering for experimental clinical drug testing. In the extras on the DVD, Rodriguez explains the techniques that he used to save money during the making of the film, including using a wheelchair in place of a dolly and using the actors not involved in scenes in place of a regular film crew.
!! This Movie contains examples of:

* AccidentalHero: El Mariachi
* ActionSurvivor: El Mariachi. The vast majority of the action sequences he takes part in mostly consist of guys with guns chasing him, and him running away trying to figure out why these guys are trying to kill him.
* AffectionateParody: Of low-budget Spanish-language action movies, most of which were released DirectToVideo stateside. The music played by the keyboardists in the bar is meant to sound like the exact kind of music in such films. This concept was lost on most American audiences, however.
* AntiHero: Azul
* BilingualBonus: Moco, Azul, and Domino's names. Moco in particular seems a touch less threatening if you know what his name means in Spanish.[[note]]"Booger", or "Kiddo" in some places[[/note]] {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d by El Mariachi who asks why someone named Azul [[note]] "Blue" [[/note]] would wear ''black''.
* BodyguardBabes: The actor playing Azul said he'd only appear in the film [[AThreesomeIsHot if he could be seen in bed with two women]]. Rodriguez said they weren't making that kind of movie, but if he could find the women then Azul could have a couple of female bodyguards instead.
* BreakTheCutie: El Mariachi starts off as an innocent, cheerful young musician looking for work. The events of the movie turn him into the cynical, vengeance-driven vigilante we see in ''Film/{{Desperado}}.''
* CatapultNightmare
* CripplingTheCompetition: At the end of the film, [[spoiler:El Mariachi is shot through the hand so he can never play the guitar again]].
* TheDogBitesBack: Moco spends much of the movie striking matches off TheDragon's face. [[spoiler: When he is shot dead by El Mariachi, TheDragon's reaction is to strike a match off Moco's corpse and walk away.]]
* DownerEnding: At the end of the film [[spoiler: sure, Moco is dead, but El Mariachi has lost Domino, and had his hand shot, meaning he may never play the guitar again (although he still can, as he does the sequels), and the final shot of the film is him riding alone and depressed down an empty highway]].
* DreamSequence: [[WordOfGod Rodriguez]] admitted to having planned more of these as filler if the 90 minute time requirement wasn't met.
* DrinkOrder: The Mariachi only drinks soda. Azul will only drink beer, "in a bottle, [[ThisIsForEmphasisBitch Guey!]]"
* TheDulcineaEffect: "She was the most beautiful creature I've seen today. Next to the turtle, of course."
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Azul may be a vengeful hitman, but he's shocked and appaled when [[spoiler: Moco murders Domino]].
* EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep: El Mariachi is only ever known as such.
* GenreLaunch: This is one of the first examples of DIY filmmaking and its production became a case study on making a quality film with almost no money.
* GratuitousSpanish: Averted with the dialogue itself, though it was written in English and then translated by Rodriguez's friend, but played straight with the title and why it wasn't translated for an American release. Not only did it have the chićness of a foreign title, but ''The Guitar Player'' doesn't sound very exciting.
* HollywoodSilencer: Averted.
* ImpaledPalm: El Mariachi is shot through the hand by his lover's vengeful ex, preventing him from ever playing guitar again. [[spoiler: El Mariachi responds by shooting the man through the chest]].
* ImperialStormtrooperMarksmanshipAcademy: Two of the goons trying to kill El Mariachi miss him when he passes between them, literally inches from the barrels of their guns... ''[[DeadlyDodging and shoot each other in the chest]]''.
* InLoveWithTheGangstersGirl: Sets up the final tragedy of the movie.
* IronicEcho: See TheDogBitesBack.
* MistakenForBadass: The focus of the plot.
* MistakenIdentity: Azul and El Mariachi are constantly mistaken for each other. Both wear black and carry guitar cases. [[SatchelSwitcheroo As for what's inside the cases...]]
* RecycledInSpace: ''Film/NorthByNorthwest''...[-IN MEXICO!-]
* RuleOfThree: What Rodriguez refers to as The Kindergartner's Method of Script Writing. You'll see {{Running Gag}}s pulled off thrice, with a [[SubvertedTrope twist]] at the third use.
* SatchelSwitcheroo: When you have two characters who are mistaken for one another because of their guitar cases, something like this is bound to occur.
* SmugSnake: Moco.
* SouthOfTheBorder: Beaten to death. The proudly-Mexican (well, Mexican-American) Rodriguez wants to show you the ''real'' Mexico (at least as real as you can get while making this sort of film), as experienced by ''Mexicans'', not some imperialist romantic gringo bullshit.
* SuspectIsHatless: El Mariachi looks nothing like Azul, but the only description Moco's men have been given is "wears black, and carrying a guitar case".
* TooGoodForThisSinfulEarth: Poor [[spoiler: Domino]].
* WhiteShirtOfDeath: [[spoiler:Moco.]] Azul even [[LampshadeHanging Lampshades]] this early in the film, saying he'd feel guilty ruining a perfectly good wardrobe out of revenge.
* YouAreTooLate: [[spoiler:The title character arrives too late to save his love interest, who is gunned down by Moco in a fit of jealousy shortly before Azul also buys it]].