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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Bandidas (2006)

"I thought the house of God was open to all people at all times."
- Quentin Cooke (Steve Zahn)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: January 07, 2007

Stars: Salma Hayek, PenÚlope Cruz
Other Stars: Steve Zahn, Dwight Yoakam, Sam Shepard, Ismael Carlo
Director: Joachim Roenning, Espen Sandberg

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (sexuality, nudity, violence)
Run Time: 01h:32m:19s
Release Date: January 09, 2007
UPC: 024543403111
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+A-A C+

DVD Review

The pairing of Salma Hayek and PenÚlope Cruz is as close as it gets to a personal cinematic dream. Add Steve Zahn and Sam Shepard to the acting mix, along with Luc Besson as co-writer, and 2006's Bandidas has all the potential for a great film. Such a pedigree makes the reason this never made it to theaters all the more mysterious, but Fox is finally giving everyone a chance to watch the world's loveliest Latinas in action on DVD.

Evil bank representative Tyler Jackson (Dwight Yoakam) has sealed a deal to purchase a Mexican financial chain from its owner, Don Diego Sandoval (Ismael Carlo). Not satisfied with the deal, Jackson kills Sandoval, and goes after farmers whose land was mortgaged by the bank. After finding her father dead, Don Diego's daughter, Sara (Salma Hayek) seeks revenge, and winds up with a partner in Maria Alvarez (PenÚlope Cruz), whose father was shot by Jackson when he refused to give up his farm. This new team decides to go after Jackson by robbing as many banks as possible, and, following some training by legendary robber Bill Buck (Sam Shepard), they join forces with investigator Quentin Cooke (Steve Zahn) to take the greedy villain down.

While this isn't going to win any awards or be mentioned among any year's best, it is a heck of a fun ride from start to finish. For starters, Hayek and Cruz make a great team, with each scene they're in brewing with a natural, sisterly chemistry. It's not easy to generate such charm, even when we are talking about two of the most appealing, beautiful women in the world, but they flawlessly feed off of their characters' distinct personalities. They're also extremely believable as action heroes, showing off their athleticism during the bank heist and chase scenes.

The rest of the cast seems to be having just as much fun, especially Dwight Yoakam. His character's hair even deserves a separate billing, as it could headline a film on its own. His hair piece is just one of many cheesy elements that keep things appealing even when Hayek and Cruz aren't on the screen. Most of the other characters are blatant genre staples, but they're all so charming that it's is easy to forgive. The only somewhat superfluous element is Steve Zahn's character, who is so straight-laced in the beginning, yet is so easily swayed by the outlaw ladies. One poorly-developed character out of about 50 is a pretty good ratio, though, especially when this isn't exactly an intellectual character study to begin with.

I was strangely reminded of the movie Three Amigos during this female-led Western romp. Such a comparison seems strange, but it made me realize just how much of a guilty pleasure this little-seen picture is, and stands to be for quite some time. Of course, seeing Hayek and Cruz together for over 90 minutes is reason enough to give this a try, but even without them, it would have been a heck of a fun ride.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation features sharp, detailed images. The overall transfer is very cinematic; the color scheme is very well-rendered. There is some grain, but it is easy to overlook, given that there aren't any glaring flaws that distract from the film.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is even more impressive, with the surrounds always active and deep, booming bass during the action sequences. The music utilizes the wide soundstage quite well, while dialogue is crystal clear and perfectly integrated into the mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Salma Hayek and PenÚlope Cruz
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: There are a couple of extras here, including an audio commentary track with Salma Hayek and PenÚlope Cruz. This lovely pair discusses very few technical details of the film, which turns out to be a very good thing. Instead, the friends tell a ton of funny stories about their experiences with the shoot that only make them more endearing than they already were.

The four-minute Burning Up the Set with Salma and PenÚlope is a standard EPK segment featuring interviews with Hayek and Cruz, where they discuss their long-time desire to work together. They also discuss working with Luc Besson and how their decision to make this project was a mutual one.

We also get the movie's theatrical trailer.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Now that I've seen Salma Hayek and PenÚlope Cruz together on the big screen, I can truly die a happy man. I'm even happier to report that this project is better than anticipated and just a heck of a good time. Fox's DVD is a decent one, with above average audio and video, and a couple of extra features that are primarily aimed at Hayek and Cruz's fan base.


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