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La Bamba [VHS] (1987)

Lou Diamond Phillips , Esai Morales , Luis Valdez  |  PG-13 |  VHS Tape
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)

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Frequently Bought Together

La Bamba [VHS] + The Buddy Holly Story [VHS] (1978)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Lou Diamond Phillips, Esai Morales, Rosanna DeSoto, Elizabeth Peña, Danielle von Zerneck
  • Directors: Luis Valdez
  • Writers: Luis Valdez
  • Producers: Daniel Valdez, Bill Borden, Stuart Benjamin, Taylor Hackford
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home E
  • VHS Release Date: April 4, 2000
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302363128
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #426,835 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


When Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens hopped a small plane after a Midwestern concert gig, early rock suffered one of its most striking tragedies. Holly's death in the plane's crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, was an obvious loss given the Texas rocker's international reputation. But Valens, a Pacoima, California, teenager, was much closer to the starting gate, his impact extending to just two national chart hits, the teen ballad "Donna" and his ebullient recasting of a Mexican wedding song, "La Bamba."

Director and playwright Luis Valdez, who had previously examined Southern California's Latino heritage through stage productions, brought a deep well of cultural identification and dramatic empathy to Valens's story. La Bamba thus probes Valens's underlying sense of cultural distance from the mainstream and acknowledges the inevitable racism of its setting, yet it's to everyone's credit that the movie avoids an excessive, revisionist emphasis; Valens's simple joy in music and the relative innocence of the era are felt, even though the script is careful not to sanitize earthier elements. Lou Diamond Phillips makes an impressive debut in the title role, matched by strong performances from Esai Morales and Elizabeth Peña, while the music gets kick started by the shrewd decision to draft Los Lobos to re-create Valens's music. Rock fans will also smile at savvy casting for Valens peers Eddie Cochran (Brian Setzer), Jackie Wilson (Howard Huntsberry), and Holly himself (Marshall Crenshaw). --Sam Sutherland

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The True Story of a Chicano Legend January 5, 2005
Movies about entertainment icons can be very promising, but at the same time misleading.<br />
<br />
Such can be said about the talented 17 year old Ritchie Valens (Richard Steve Valenzuela) of Southern California. The Ritchie Valens story is one of which many know the end, but not necessarily beginning or the middle.<br />
<br />
When you see La Bamba, it's important to keep in mind that, unless you are already familiar with the Ritchie Valens legacy, the film will forever distort the image and persona of a 1950's star.<br />
<br />
For example; Ritchie did not have a gilrfriend named Donna. The band Valens performed with up until a few months before his demise (including the bandleader) were close friends of Ritchie's until the end. Ritchie did not have constant premonitions about his fate. On the contrary, he lived his life as happy as can be and struggled, as many other music performers of his day, with a sometimes dishonest manager who sought to make a buck out of a talented but innexperienced teenager.<br />
<br />
But, why is this movie worth noting? Because it perpetuates Ritchie Valens' legacy and music. This is something important since Valens is a pioneer figure from the early days of rock n' roll. His untimely death after only eight months into his professional career placed his music and legacy in momentary oblivion. The dated news reports of February 1959 listed Valens as the biggest star of the three who were killed in a plane crash (Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper were the other two). At the time of his death Ritchie had the number one song in the popular music charts for the West Coast and the number two song in the nation.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best rock biopics ever. December 6, 2003
I saw La Bamba the other night for the first time in many years, and was delighted to see how well it had held up. Of the many tragedies in the history of rock, there are few more bitterly poignant than that of Ritchie Valens, and director Luis Valdez makes us feel the full force of the tragedy. He makes us love not only Ritchie (Lou Diamond Phillips) but also his supportive mother Connie (Rosana De Soto) and his troubled brother Bob (Esai Morales), then ends the film as he should, on a note of raw, unmitigated grief. On the way to the tragic end, however, we also get marvelous recreations of vintage rock songs by Los Lobos, Brian Setzer, Marshall Crenshaw, Howard Huntsberry and others. Seeing La Bamba again brings up a smaller tragedy: why Phillips, Morales and De Soto didn't become bigger stars, as they clearly deserved to become from their performances in this movie. Only Phillips came at all close to stardom, and for every step forward he took--his change-of-pace villainous role in Courage Under Fire, his Broadway triumph in the revival of The King and I--he took two steps back with some straight-to-video flick. But in any case you can still see them in La Bamba, and laugh, cry, and applaud.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite movie of all time May 1, 2008
La Bamba is my favorite movie of all time hands down. Of all the films I have seen not many reached me the way La Bamba did. I first saw this movie back in the summer of 96 when I was 17-years old and I fell in love with this movie and also became a big fan of Ritchie Valens. No joke I would watch this movie every single day it was on. La Bamba was a staple part of HBO's line up and even if it was on twice a day I would watch it. For me, each time I saw the movie it felt like the first time. I would drive my friends crazy with having to watch it even after I recorded the movie they figured I wouldn't watch it as much, but I still did.

At the time I was actually learning the guitar and I never really played at all and this movie inspired me to actually practice and not only that, but it also inspired me on wanting to be a filmmaker. I really can't think of any other movie that reached me on this deep of a level. Like I said in the opening of my review La Bamba is hands down my favorite movie of all time. For starters it has some truly great music; La Bamba is about having a dream and not letting anyone stop you from reaching that dream. It's about love and family.

The screenplay by Luis Valdez was excellent; the characters are great and each of the main players all add to the movie. None of the characters are just there. Each character plays a crucial part of the movie. While yes the story does revolve around Ritchie played amazingly by Lou Diamond Phillips, but in many ways movie is actually Bob's story played by Esai Morales who pretty much steals the show. There is a bond between the 2 brothers, but there is also tension. Bob is always in Ritchie's shadow despite being older and I was really able to relate more to Bob in many ways than Ritchie.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars La Bamba--Best of the Musical Bios December 31, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
For those Americans whose first exposure to Ritchie Valens was from LA BAMBA, they were treated to the very essence that made Valens the briefly shining star that he was. Director Luis Valdez correctly fused the major parts of Valens' life with some of the songs that rocketed Valens to the top. Lou Diamond Phillips has a breakway role as Ritchie Valens and plays him with just the right note of self-assured talent and the conviction that his talent will not be stopped by the racism that was then rampant in the music business. We see Ritchie Valenzuela trying to balance a musical career that will not tolerate Mexican-Americans with his equally strong grasp for the love of a blue-eyed blonde Donna, neither of which will be easy to achieve. Valenzuela learns painfully that no singer with a Latin name can hope to hit the top ten. He compromises by choosing an Anglofied version--Valens. But with Donna there can be no compromise. His breakout hit "Donna" is his clarion call that there are some principles that he refuses to give in on. Valens even learns to trust his instinct that tells him that a Spanish language song will be a bestseller. Hence, the "La Bamba" of the title, which is played by the real life Les Lobos during a footstomping jam session. Esai Morales as his weaker brother Bob pushes the film into soap opera territory, yet even here, Phillips as Valens keeps his feet and his voice solidly grounded in the basic business of the film. I had a bigger problem with the airplane crashing foreshadowing that intruded far too often. Valens' dreams of his own death in a plane crash gave the film an overheavy dose of inevitability. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent Movie
Published 21 days ago by Alfred Arment
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great movie
Published 21 days ago by Federico Bueno
5.0 out of 5 stars ... times over the last many years and have always enjoyed it. What...
I have seen this movie different times over the last many years and have always enjoyed it. What prompted me to buy it was a friend of mine who wanted to see it again.
Published 29 days ago by Francoise Dubois
5.0 out of 5 stars Another awesome, true story that is very entertaining, but sad at the...
We love the move, the music, the story, and the fact that it has a Spanish language track for my visiting Guatemalan friends to totally understand the story!
Published 1 month ago by joyce parson
5.0 out of 5 stars Too young to die, but not to rock 'n' roll
"La Bamba" is a really good rags-to-almost-riches story about Ritchie Valens who was three months shy of 18 years-old the day the music died on February 3, 1959. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Wuchak
5.0 out of 5 stars The early days
Remember the early days of rock & roll well this movie has this and then some you will enjoy it
Published 1 month ago by Cliff
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this movie!!!
This is a very excellent biographical film bout the life of Ritchie Valens.It has wonderful music and great acting.It is a very tender and touching story,it will reach your heart
Published 2 months ago by Kevin Todd Clepps
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie!!!!
I love this movie. I saw it a long time ago on TV. When I saw that Amazon had it, I had to pick it up. It is a good story about Ritchie Valens and his very short career.
Published 3 months ago by Sue
4.0 out of 5 stars Geografic region
Perhaps it is a good idea, when a dvd is going to be shipped to Europe, to point out that your dvd's are ment for an another geografic region and that therefore for most players in... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ton van Dijck
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie!
I'm dating myself, but I remember him and I remember well all of his songs. What a tragedy when he and the others were killed so long before their time. Loved the movie!
Published 4 months ago by baba
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