REVIEWS: Action & Thrillers, Video — May 17, 2012 at 8:41 am

REVIEW: El Gringo (2012) + trailer

“Gringo is a slang word used in Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking countries in Latin America, to denote foreigners, often from the United States. The term can be applied to someone who is actually a foreigner, or it can denote a strong association or assimilation into foreign (particularly US) society and culture. While in Spanish it simply identifies a foreigner, without any negative connotation,in English the word is often considered offensive or disparaging.” – from Wikipedia.

Well, in this particular case, we’ve got ourselves a no ordinary Gringo (Scott Adkins), who arrives at a sleepy little town of El Fronteras with a bag full of money and dark past that follows him.

The deal is that Pedro (as he gets called a couple of times throughout the film) is a cop, who got set up along with other fellow cops in a Mexican Desert. The set up turns into a bloody shootout, where Pedro is the only one who survives.

So naturally, he takes the drug money, and wants to vanish. To be exact, he wants to vanish in Acapulco, but the road leads him to El Fronteras. Being a good shot and a martial arts expert, Pedro quickly realizes that those are the skills he would have to use to stay alive, as towns authorities are corrupt and on the same side with the “skeleton” group of local killers.

The story develops further as Lieutenant West (Christian Slater) is assigned to handle the case, and he’s now on the trail to track down Pedro and bring him back along with the cash bag. Pedro of course has no idea, and the only thing he tries to do is to get on the bus that takes him to Acapulco. If he’s lucky enough to stay alive that long…

At least several times throughout the film, I caught myself thinking that “El Gringo” heavily reminds me of Robert Rodriquez’ cult film “Desperado” with Antonio Banderas.

To me, the story had similar elements, the directing was somewhat similar, even “El Gringo” himself reminded me of “El Mariachi”. Of course, one on one Mariachi wouldn’t stand a chance against Gringo, but that’s another story.

Scott Adkins gets plenty of screen time here, he’s pretty much given the carte blanche in the film, doing everything an action hero should be doing (kicking asses, shooting down bad guys, getting the girl, and ultimately surviving), and he’s a joy to watch. Being one of the most skilled and gifted martial artists on screen today, Adkins shows some acting skills as well, since the film is not a straight up martial arts flick.

“El Gringo” is part of the “After Dark Action” series, which also includes the newly released “Stash House” thriller with Dolph Lundgren. Both “El Gringo” and “Stash House” were directed by Eduardo Rodriquez.

While “El Gringo” is pure entertainment, having fights, shootouts, jokes and amusing villains, there is one big goof that I noticed – a goof that most people would not notice.

Towards the end of the film, we see Christian Slater’s character Lt. West is driving a black car, looking for Pedro. The car that West drives is a on old Russian “Gaz-21” model, that… simply could not be in Mexico, let alone El Fronteras.

The goof can be explained though: “El Gringo” was shot on location in Bulgaria, which explains the Soviet “Gaz” car. The filmmakers could have envisaged that.

Another thing that I noticed, director Eduardo Rodriquez seems to have this problem with dragging in his films – something I felt while watching “Stash House” and same with “El Gringo”. Both films should have been shorter by least 10 minutes each.

Aside from these negative nuances (include sometimes bizarre scene cutting during fight scenes) – “El Gringo” is one hell of a ride. There are amusing villains, cool hero, fight scenes, shootouts and a cool soundtrack. Give it a try.




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