'BEWARE the Greeks when they bring gifts.' If the Trojans had known this, they might not have lost the war - which just goes to show, you should look a gift horse in the mouth. In a similar way, surprise packages create outrageous problems for the main characters in two entertaining new releases on both video and laser. EL MARIACHI (1993, Category III, 81 minutes). Mexican director Robert Rodriguez's unpretentious feature debut was the surprise package for the film world last year. To raise the money to make the movie, Rodriguez became a guinea-pig for a drug experiment. While in hospital, he wrote a screenplay abouta travelling musician - El Mariachi. He raised US$7,000 (HK$54,075) and made the movie in 14 days. Rodriguez planned to sell the film to the Spanish video market, but a chance copy reached Columbia Pictures. Prior to theatrical release, it won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Carlos Gallardo is an innocent musician who enters town dressed in black and carrying a guitar case. He is soon mistaken for a killer, similarly dressed, who carries his guns in a black guitar case. The musician inadvertently picks up the wrong case after lodging with a bar girl. He is pursued all over town by vengeful maniacs but eludes capture until events take a nasty turn. El Mariachi presents a timeless tale of mistaken identities, but Rodriguez's artful manipulation of the conventions has produced a pacey and delightfully insightful film. TRUE ROMANCE (1993, Category III, 121 minutes). This is the script Quentin Tarantino sold to finance Reservoir Dogs. Directed by Tony Scott, it has the same pyrotechnic sheen as The Last Boy Scout, but with more depth. The romance is pure, tough and powerful. Scott is conscious of what constitutes true love in a world conditioned by movie concepts of the word. The unlikely lovers meet in a cinema when Alabama Whirley (played by Patricia Arquette), a rookie hooker, tips popcorn over Clarence (Christian Slater), a street-wise but alienated young man. Nurtured on comic-book heroes and videos, Clarence is so obsessed by Elvis Presley that he believes the King speaks to him. The pair fall for one another in an affair informed by movie images. But the romance soon turns to horror. In an attempt to free Whirley from her pimp, Clarence runs up against the vicious Gary Oldman and his henchmen. He kills them and on the way out takes a suitcase containing what he believes to be his girlfriend's clothes. The suitcase turns out to be the surprise package: it contains the villains' drug stash, setting the ruthless gang on their trail. The film is an enjoyable roller-coaster of romance and violence punctuated by clips taken from other films and television. Its characters live in a cameo world in which everyone refers to the movies, indicating modern society's imaginative reliance on filmscenarios. 'If you gave me a million years to ponder, I'd never believe true love and Detroit go together,' Whirley muses. Now that's true romance.