Robert Rodriguez probably needs no introduction. Google him and you'll be greeted by larges cowboy hats and smug grins. An image that suits the bad-ass action films he's known to direct. Sometimes seen as Tarantino's lesser brother, there is quite a bit more to Rodriguez' career.
Rodriguez started his career at the very bottom. El Mariachi is a no-budget action flick that earned Rodriguez enough credit to start work on the sequel (Desperado), but watching it nowadays is pretty a painful experience. Desperado isn't, a film that remains a perfect showcase for Rodriguez' visual flair and gun-filled action sequences. There's also a third film in the series (Once Upon a Time in Mexico), but that one is best forgotten.
After that Rodriguez teamed up with Tarantino. The two have released a bunch of films together, often in different setups. Four Rooms and Grindhouse are anthology projects, Sin Sity was co-directed by Tarantino (though he didn't do all that much) and From Dusk Till Dawn was written by the man. I'm not a big Tarantino fan, but his involvement did put Rodriguez on the front of the grindhouse revival, a slick move that allowed Rodriguez to make a full feature version of Planet Terror and two Machete films.
But the coolest thing about Rodriguez is that amidst all this testosterone action, he managed to become a respected director of children's films. It started in 2001 when he directed the first Spy Kids film, currently the fourth instalment in that series is out. Add Shorts and The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D to the list and it's hard to ignore Rodriguez' second career. To be fair, I haven't seen any of these films myself (so I can't vouch for them beyond their obvious popularity), then again I don't exactly belong to their target audience.
Rodriguez' style is a bit hit and miss for me. When he gives style preference (like with Desperado or Planet Terror) I can appreciate his bad-ass nonsense, but more often than not the effect is ruined by dumb characters, failing dialogues and a lack of visual flair. Rodriguez' films are never boring though, so with each new film he makes it's worth giving it another try, even when the result isn't all that great.
Best film: Planet Terror (4.0*)
Worst film: From Dusk Till Dawn (1.0*)
Average rating: 2.10 (out of 5)