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La Bamba

6.91 h 48 min1987X-RayPG-13
The rise of Ritchie Valens from farm laborer to chartbusting rocker. Stars Esai Morales and Lou Diamond Phillips.
Luis Valdez
Lou Diamond PhillipsEsai MoralesRosana De Soto
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Elizabeth PenaDanielle von ZerneckRick DeesJoe Pantoliano
Taylor HackfordBill Borden
Columbia Pictures
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Content advisory
Alcohol usefoul languagenuditysexual contentsmokingsubstance useviolence
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4.8 out of 5 stars

5572 global ratings

  1. 89% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 7% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 2% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 1% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 1% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Movie LoverReviewed in the United States on May 18, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great Bluray Transfer for a Great Film!
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Twilight Time did a great job mastering this movie for Bluray! I'm surprised that Sony/Columbia Pictures didn't bother to do it themselves.

Film grain is very apparent throughout the movie, but it seems to be a very common thing in some older films that I've seen transferred over to High Def. I do wish there were more extra features included like on the original DVD release, but for now only the theatrical trailer is on there. On the audio part it's been remastered in glorious 5.1 via DTS and it includes two commentaries and the "music only" track.

Every time I watch this movie I can't help but wonder why it was not nominated for best picture, best supporting actor (Esai Morales), or best supporting actress (Rosanna DeSoto). My suspicions are that it's because it's an all Latino cast in a Mexican American (Chicano) story).

None-the-less, I believe this movie stands the test of time! Thank you Twilight Time for bringing this movie to bluray!
29 people found this helpful
nancy whiteheadReviewed in the United States on January 28, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Lou Diamond Phillips does a great job portraying him
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I'm a child of the 50's I remember him well and when he died. All of us were shocked at his untimely death. He would have been a popular rock star for many years of he had lived. Lou Diamond Phillips does a great job portraying him.Its an all around great movie with good 50's music but it is a tear jerker.If you want to know what it was like growing up in the 50's this movie will give you an inside look at it. Great movie i have seen more then once.Loved it.
19 people found this helpful
KEITH MORRISReviewed in the United States on December 21, 2019
2.0 out of 5 stars
Poor quality transfer
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The review is not for the actual film which I have seen an unknown number of times but rather for the bluray transfer. If you own the DVD so not waste your money as the bluray looks no better, as was the case with the " Buddy Holly Story" bluray. Quite disappointed as I had hoped for a more crisp image but alas that isn't the case
5 people found this helpful
Movie Night StreamingReviewed in the United States on August 15, 2016
4.0 out of 5 stars
A movie that will move you and yet leave you singing La Bomba.
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Every once in awhile if you're lucky, you will meet someone so filled with light and love that their goodness blesses everyone in their world. When that special person is surrounded by a life filled with hardship and people who are tortured souls it makes their light seem even brighter. So it is with Richard Steven Valenzuela aka Ritchie Valens. Born into poverty, raised in a migrant shanty, the love of his mother instilled in him the honor and courage to rise above his conditions. He never lost sight of both his humble life and love of music, holding fast to loyalty of family. It was a very talented young man with one foot out of a hopeless future when fate reached down and took this talented star.

Music by Los Lobos is the ultimate enhancement.
14 people found this helpful
robin friedmanReviewed in the United States on August 30, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Story Of Ritchie Valens
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"La Bamba", tells the story of Ritchie Valens, the gifted young singer who died, age 17, in a February 3, 1959 plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, together with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. I was young at the time but I knew Valens' songs "Donna" and "La Bamba" and have remembered them since. I hadn't seen this 1987 film until now. I was moved to remember my youth, to think of Ritchie Valens again, and to hear his music.

Ritchie was born Richard Steven Valenzuela to Mexican immigrants who worked as farm laborers in southern California. The movie shows Ritchie's relationship to his mother and his sibling rivalry with his older brother. It shows his high school sweetheart Donna -- the girl that Ritchie immortalized in song. There is an outstanding soundtrack with the music of the day and excellent brief portrayals of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, Eddie Cochran, Jackie Wilson, and Allan Freed. But the highlight of the film is Ritchie Valens and his music. Ritchie loved music and rock and roll. He says more than once in the film that music was what he was born to do -- a dedication as important to rock as to classical music or any other form of the art. The movie features "Donna" and "La Bamba", which I knew in 1959 as well as "We belong together" and "Come on Let's Go" which I didn't know until later.

The film is included in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress and deemed worthy of preservation for its cultural, historic, or aesthetic significance. It is, indeed, all three.

This is a sad film about the life of a young man of talent and about the love of music. After watching the film and hearing Ritchie's songs performed by Los Lobos, I listened again to Ritchie's own performances. I was glad to see this movie at last for itself and to remember old times and songs forever young. "La Bamba" is a fitting tribute to Ritchie Valens.

Robin Friedman
One person found this helpful
Julie R BarnesReviewed in the United States on November 14, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Well Done
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No matter how many times I have seen the film over the years since it was made in 1987, I still cry at the end. Ritchie's story is one with such promise. Such a talent should not have been taken from us at the tender age of 17. Lou Diamond Phillips makes an excellent Ritchie Valens. Esai Morales does no shabby job either. What is really a shame is that it took until 2001 for Ritchie Valens to be inducted into the Rock -n- Roll Hall of Fame. That should have happened decades earlier. His career may have been short, but his music has left a lasting impression on many generations.
3 people found this helpful
Jessica MillsReviewed in the United States on December 6, 2021
3.0 out of 5 stars
Innocence and Interest
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What this film does well is depict the innocence of Ritchie, his love of music, his innocent love of Donna and even Rosie, his ultimate desire to support his family, and much more. The acting at times was a bit gimmicky and over the top but the final scene between Bobby and Ritchie over the phone is raw and real (the best from the two actors and characters).
I am sad the film didn't include more of Ritchie's past, the reality of where he grew up and his family, his love of mariachi from an early age, and more.
The film sparked my interest in Valens but it didn't do the best job of showing the young man himself. With such a short life though, how do you honor him and his legacy? I suppose this film did its best.
Hopefully someone someday will make another biopic about Valens with more detail, cultural honoring, and, at the very least, a Chicano actor playing Valens.
SundayAtDuskReviewed in the United States on October 24, 2021
3.0 out of 5 stars
Ritchie Valens & His Brother . . . .
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This movie should have been described as one about both Ritchie Valens and his half-brother Bob Morales. Personally, I thought it would have been a much better movie if there had been much less about vulgar, self-pitying Bob Morales. Lou Diamond Phillips did an outstanding job playing Ritchie Valens, and looked more like a 17-year-old than the singer did back in the 1950s. He plays him as a sweet kid with big dreams that came true, but sadly only for a short while. Having scenes of nightmares about plane crashes was good foreshadowing, although the nightmares were actually caused by a real plane crash at Mr. Valens' school in 1957. The music is great in the film, too. Would have given the film five stars for sure, if not for all the scenes with the brother.
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