Bandidas – DVD Review

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Joachim Roenning & Espen Sandberg

Penelope Cruz….Maria Alvarez
Salma Hayek….Sara Sandoval
Steve Zahn….Quentin Cooke
Dwight Yoakam….Tyler Jackson
Denis Arndt….Ashe
Audra Blaser….Clarissa
Sam Shepard….Bill Buck

Fox Home Video presents Bandidas. Screenplay by Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen. Running time: 93 minutes. Rated PG-13. Theatrical release Sept 22, 2006. DVD released Jan. 9, 2007.

The Movie

If you thought Wild Wild West was an amazing film, you’re going to be blown away by Bandidas. How can you go wrong with a film written and produced by French action uber-filmmaker Luc Besson (Leon and Fifth Element) starring Latina superstars Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek? This seemed earmarked to be a fantastic girl-girl spaghetti western. While the movie isn’t a complete flop, the project doesn’t nail its total potential. The script lifts moments from other films and embraces the usual genre cliches.

Cruz is a poor farmer’s daughter. Hayek’s a spoiled rich banker’s daughter. Her daddy holds the loans on all the locals. He merges with a New York bank with the thought that it’ll be great for everyone. The Yankees send country star and breakfast food mogul Dwight Yoakam to seal the deal. After scribbling the necessary signatures in the merger, Salma’s dad drops dead. Dwight and his crew clean up the messy overdue mortgages by killing all the farmers that signed on the dotted lines and taking the property. These two women from opposite side of the tracks meet up when they decide to get revenge and right the wrongs done by the gringos. It’s pretty much the “we’re robbing banks to save the farm” script.

Into the fray comes Steve Zahn. He’s a Wild West CSI expert – kinda like Johnny Depp’s role in Sleepy Hollow. Instead of catching the two female outlaws, he joins their cause. The trio have to stop Yoakam’s evil plans for the area. Besides the threat of being caught by Yoakam’s goons, Zahn worries about being frisky with the ladies without his rich fiance finding out about his outlaw lifestyle.

Besson appears to have dreams of recreating Viva Maria! that starred Bridget Bardot and Jeanne Moreau. But the co-directors of Bandidas fall short of Louis Malle’s comic western. The plot plays out like it was cribbed from a lame Zorro adventure except without the mask, cape and sword. Even when the two women are trained by Sam Shepard to rob banks, it’s like Karate Kid without waxing on and off. And for no reason at all, a major shoot out at the end turns into a Matrix-flavored battle. At least when the storyline gets dull, we always have Penelope’s bosom and Salma’s corset to keep our eyes on the screen.

The one person in the film who understandably took a role without caring about the script is Zahn. The highlight of the film is him tied to a bed and being smothered by the chests and lips of Cruz and Hayek for a prolonged period of time. He didn’t do this movie merely for a paycheck.

As far as villians of the Old West go, Yoakam does a good enough job being cold blooded and sinister. He looks like he swam around in the fat vat at his Bakersfield Biscuits’ sausage factory. He’s extra good and greasy with long hair that repulses. Unfortunately, Besson gives him very little to do outside of being bad to feel any real dimensionality to his character.

If you’re a fan of Hayek and Cruz, you’ll enjoy this dusty romp. The two girls look good playing against each other. A little Bound magic could have helped this film truly achieve “Must See” status. There’s too much teasing and not enough pleasing in this girl-girl action. Ultimately Bandidas is a leftover spaghetti…western.

The DVD:

The disc contains both the 2.35:1 anamorphic and the 1.33:1 pan and scan of the film.

The soundtrack has English 5.1 Dolby Surround and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. The subtitles are in English and Spanish. The commentary track has Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz chatting away. The two women spend more time talking about their friendship than giving background on the scenes. They do disclose that Zahn spent three tied to the bed while they straddled him.


Burning Up the Set With Salma and Penelope (4:44) mainly has the ladies talking about how they instigated the production of Bandidas. Nothing too in-depth. No time is spent with Luc Besson.

Theatrical Trailer (2:06) did you see this coming attraction at your megaplex?

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Bandidas
(OUT OF 10)