Perdita Durango

Year: 1997
Production Co: Canal+Espana
Director: Álex de la Iglesia
Writer: Barry Gifford/David Trueba/Jorge Guerricaechevarri­a
Cast: Rosie Perez, Javier Bardem, James Gandolfini, Demian Bishir

On the surface this film looks like either a grindhouse thriller that's trying to have a high concept, zany comic book feel or it was a serious violent action thriller that just came across a bit too camp. On top of that the plot is just a bit too weird for either, and the whole thing ends up like a dish cooked by an overenthusiastic chef with no training – a mess all over the kitchen and something edible but unidentifiable.

Witness a pre-fame Javier Bardem and obscurity-bound Rosie Perez in the silliest voodoo-inspired road movie cult Mexicali gangster revenge thriller you probably never thought you wanted. Titular heroine Perdita (Perez) – and the choice of title is a strange one because it's as much about her psychotic lover as her – is crossing the border from Mexico when she comes across live wire shaman/bank robber Romeo (Bardem, complete with long hair and snakeskin boots that have real snake heads on the toes).

A quick shag later and Perdita falls in with the goofily grinning, charismatic and murderous Romeo and his ritualised religion - one where he dances around like a madman, actually seems to turn half-demon (growling and snarling like a wolf) and performs a human sacrifice.

When a mob boss asks him to do a job delivering a shipment of human foetuses to Las Vegas in a crooked biotechnology deal, he and Perdita decide they have to find victims to sacrifice for one big ritual to help them on their way (for some reason).

They spot and kidnap whitebread young lovers Duane and Estelle and the show is on the road. With the worst sexual politics since Straw Dogs , Perdita seduces Duane outside Romeo's chamber while he rapes the young girl inside – ending with her cooing in pleasure, arms around his neck.

The relationship from there is tenuous and love-hate as the pair try to figure out how to escape their insane captors, all the while bickering jealously about the dual sex session.

Perdita becomes mere windows dressing for much of it as Romeo goes further off the reservation, stopping in to kill a rival who's sold him out and picking up a friend-at-arms to help fight off the inevitable double cross at the drop.

There's little character development, ending with Perdita walking slowly down old town Las Vegas wiping away tears, everyone around her gone or dead, and after some blistering violence and Robert Rodriguez-style locations and character sparks, it's not that clear what you've just watched.

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