DVD Review: LA BAMBA (1987 – newly restored)

Who doesn’t know the tune La Bamba? A song that can make people jump from their chairs, that makes you want to dance until your feet are sore and which is synonymous for party. I was 17 when the film La Bamba, the All-American rock to riches story of rock and roll legend Ritchie Valens starring Lou Diamond Phillips, was released in 1987 (don’t start calculating my age now!). It made a big impression on me as it was also 17 the age when super talented musician Ritchie Valens rose to fame and tragically died shortly afterwards.

The film has now been re-released by Eureka Entertainment for the first time in the UK in a 30th Anniversary Digitally Restored Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) edition.

dvd la bamba

Rock & roll teenage sensation Ritchie Valens was born to poverty, he was of Mexican parents, but he was destined for stardom and he lived the American Dream. 

Ritchie Valens was born Richard Steven Valenzuela (1941 – 1959). He was an American singer, songwriter and guitarist as well as a rock and roll pioneer and a forefather of the Chicano rock movement.

He was of Mexican descent and the second of five siblings brought up hearing traditional Mexican mariachi music, as well as flamenco guitar, R&B and jump blues.

Valens’ recording career lasted only eight months, as it abruptly ended when he died in a plane crash.

During this time, he had several hits, most notably La Bamba, which he had adapted from a Mexican folk song. Valens transformed the song into one with a rock rhythm and beat, and it became a hit in 1958, making Valens a pioneer of the Spanish-speaking rock and roll movement.

3 February 1959, the day he died in a plane crash,  is known as ‘The Day the Music Died’, as the same accident also claimed the lives of fellow musicians Buddy Holly and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. 

Actor Lou Diamond Phillips gives an electrifying performance as Valens, who has to contend with racial prejudice, a jealous brother (a stunningly intense Esai Morales, NYPD Blue, Caprica) and an overbearing mother, before his unique style of Latino-influenced rock & roll rockets him to fame, but sets him on the path for an unavoidable date with destiny.


Featuring music from Grammy Award winning rock band Los Lobos, and also starring Elizabeth Peña (Jacob’s Ladder, Down and Out in Beverly Hills), director Luis Valdez’s La Bamba is an irresistibly toe-tapping depiction of the early days of American rock music, and the indelible influence one young man had upon it.

La Bamba is now a classic movie and despite showing tragic historical moments, it depicts the great and inspiring real story of a young musician who did not give up on his dreams and persevered in his pursuit.


LA BAMBA New Dual Format Trailer



·       High-definition presentation

·       English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing

·       Remembering Ritchie – a featurette on the late musician

·       La Bamba music video by Los Lobos

·       Lonely Teardrops music video by Howard Huntsberry

·       Original theatrical trailer 

What I particularly love about the newly restored DVD edition is the quality of the photography, which beautifully brings to life the colours of Fifties’ clothes. The sound has also improved from the original film from 1987. It’s a true gem and I will watch it over and over again. 

The bonus content is fantastic and I’d dare say the new DVD is worth buying only to see the special features.

Available to order from: Zavvi  – Dual Format RRP £17.99 – Certificate 15





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