REVIEW: ONE EYED JACKS

CAST

Marlon Brando (Superman)
Karl Malden (A Streetcar Named Desire)
Ben Johnson (Angel and The Badman)
Katy Jurado (Divine)
Pina Pellicer (Sinful)
Slim Pickens (The Last Command)
Elisha Cook Jr.(House on Haunted Hill)

Rio (Marlon Brando) (also called “The Kid”), his mentor Dad Longworth (Karl Malden), and a third man called Doc rob a bank of two saddlebags of gold in Sonora, Mexico. The robbery is successful, but Mexican rurales (mounted police) track them and catch them celebrating in a cantina, killing Doc. Dad and Rio manage to escape. After getting cornered on a high ridge, with Rio’s horse dead, Rio figures the rurales will be “swarming all over us inside an hour.” Deciding that one partner might take the remaining pony, ride to a jacalito down the canyon about five miles and return with fresh mounts, they gamble for it, with Rio fixing the deal so his pal Dad can be the one to go.Dad gets to a corral, strapping the swag bag onto a fresh pony, but he gets second thoughts. He casts one eye towards a point on the ridge sure to be taken by the rurales, and with the other he gazes off in the opposite direction out past a low-lying treeline towards the border and safety. One way leads to danger and a poor chance at surviving with half the booty, the other towards a virtual certainty with all of it. After a decidedly short moment of reflection, he leaves his friend to be taken by the rurales. Rio is arrested and transported to prison by way of the jacalito, where he learns firsthand of Dad’s betrayal from the owner.Rio spends five hard years in a Sonora prison, giving him ample time to mull over Dad’s betrayal before escaping with new partner Chico Modesto (Larry Duran) and going hunting for him. When he locates him, Longworth has used his wealth to become the sheriff of Monterey, California. Instead of ambushing Dad, Rio gives him a chance to explain why he left him back in Mexico, pretending he had never been captured to put him off-guard. Longworth’s awkward self-serving story is easily seen through.All along Rio planned not only to kill Dad, but to pull off a bank robbery in Monterey with his new partners Chico and “scum-suckin’ pig” Bob Emory (Ben Johnson) (who used his knowledge of Dad’s whereabouts to force their partnership). Plans are sidetracked when Rio falls in love with Longworth’s beautiful virginal stepdaughter Louisa (Pina Pellicer), taking advantage of a fiesta to spend the night with her on the beach. Dad tries to make Louisa confess to being deflowered, but after intervention by his wife Maria (Katy Jurado) he backs down. He nevertheless traps Rio and administers a vicious beating with a whip in front of the entire town, smashing Rio’s gun hand with the butt of a shotgun in an attempt to end his gun-slinging days.While recovering from his wounds near the ocean, Rio struggles with his conflicting desires to love the girl and to kill her stepfather. He decides to forgo vengeance, fetch Louisa and leave, but Emory, having decided that Rio will never be fast enough to challenge him again, kills Chico and pulls off the bank job without Rio’s knowledge. The heist goes wrong and a young girl is killed. Rio is falsely accused and locked up by Longworth. Knowing that the trial’s outcome is certain, Rio sure to be hanged in two days, Dad has one last private talk with him, again attempting to absolve himself, to which Rio replies, “You may be a one-eyed jack around here, but I’ve seen the other side of your face.” Rio confesses to being imprisoned for the last five years, but Dad calls it a lie. After Louisa visits Rio in jail to confess that she is going to have his baby, he is beaten by sadistic deputy Lon Dedrick (Slim Pickens) out of envy for Louisa’s affection. Maria faces Dad about telling her the truth, stating she knew something was wrong since the moment Rio arrived and that Dad is going to hang him out of pure guilt. Longworth angrily leaves.Louisa attempts to smuggle a Derringer pocket pistol to Rio, but she is discovered by Lon, who leaves the gun on a table. While they are out, Rio with great difficulty is able to get hold of the pistol, but it is without ammunition. Rio bluffs his way out of jail, helping himself to Lon’s revolver after a tense confrontation. As he is making his escape, he is spotted by Dad in the center of town. Under fire and left with no choice, Rio kills Longworth in a final showdown. Rio and Louisa ride out to the dunes and say a sentimental farewell. Rio will now be a hunted man and is already wanted in Mexico, so he tells Louisa that he’s going to Oregon, but to look for him in the spring, when he will return for her.The film took over a year to edit after principal photography ended in 1959. Eventually, the studio took the film away from Brando and recut it to their own tastes. Brando reportedly did not object, becoming fed-up with editing after spending so much time trying to perfect his film. He did complain, after the fact, that the studio cut took away the moral ambiguity he sought for his character. Brando said that all the characters in the film but Dad Longworth, the ostensible heavy, are two faced — “one-eyed jacks,” with one face on top, the public face, and another face that is hidden. Although Rio accuses Dad of being a “one-eyed jack,” to Brando, Dad was the only one who was honest in the film. In Brando’s cut, Dad’s last shot meant for Rio hits his step-daughter Louisa instead, killing her and thus leaving Rio with nothing in the end. The studio used the alternative ending where Rio and Louisa have an emotional parting at the beach, and Rio promises to return to her. In a development that seemingly foreshadows his future personal life, Brando had an affair on-set with Pina Pellicer, who later committed suicide. Their scenes together are quite affecting as they are emotionally true.

 

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REVIEW: PRAIRIE FEVER

CAST

Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: TLJ)
Lance Henriksen (Aliens)
Dominique Swain (Lolita)
Jamie Anne Allman (The Notebook)
Jillian Armenante (Bad Teacher)
Felicia Day (The Guild)
Lucy Lee Flippin (Little Black Book)
Silas Weir Mitchell (My Name Is Earl)
Don Swayze (Lois & Clark)

2vvoqk8The heart of the story belongs to the three mail order brides out of seventeen, who for some unknown reason have “Prairie Fever” and so they are transported out of town by a reluctant sheriff Preston Biggs (played by Kevin Sorbo) who had a debt to settle with the owner of the “Pure Luk Casino”. It seemed an easy enough task to do and he reluctantly agrees to do it. These three fine actors, “Dominique Swain” (Abigail), “Jillian Armenante” (Lettie) and “Felicia Day” (Blue) deserves credit for their performances!! They did a terrific job at playing the part of women who were as crazy as they were difficult to understand and for one man to be in the company of these three very strange women, you could imagine how difficult the task was going to be on that long, slow journey, until help unexpectedly arrives making the adventure more intriguing.9788_3_screenshotOlivia Thibodeaux (Jamie Anne Allman) appeared on the scene once again and you can tell that she was not a welcome member to the party of travelers since sheriff Biggs was not in the mood to be charitable and he was even less inclined to add more to his already burdened load since he recognized Olivia from an earlier encounter, but with three unstable women in tow, he had no choice but to include her in his journey. Needless to say sheriff Preston Biggs now finds himself in the company of four women instead of three and things begin to get interesting as the story unfolds as we learn about the fate of these women and why Olivia was found wondering alone at the side of the road. As we get to know these women, things get complicated for sheriff Biggs who not only finds himself in close proximity of a beautiful woman but thinks she is a callous card sharp, but is unprepared to find her comfortably at ease with the women no one cares about, and as Olivia begins to care for them she is also concerned about their fate as well as her own and tries to convince Preston not to abandon these women.9788_5_screenshotWhat made this movie so terrific is the conflict between all the characters and how each one of them becomes more important and how sheriff Biggs’ simple plans appear to be heading the wrong direction and though the women resign themselves to their fate, sheriff Biggs becomes more uncertain about his own future thanks to a beautiful distraction named Olivia. This story isn’t about crazy women and a drunken sheriff, this story is about finding despair and bringing it to life, feeling shamed and unworthy and finding pride. We have a story with a tragic past with promises of a better and hopeful future making this simple adventure even more warm hearted than when it first began. Four strangers traveling alone together lost in the battle of demons, but as those demons fade, the story takes an unexpected delightful turn.untitledAs charming and heart warming as this story is, what would a western be without its usual villains, and actor Don Swayze did a fabulous job as gun fighter James, who was every bit as mean and troublesome as you would imagine!!! So the clashes he has with Preston in two scenes were tense, dramatic, and both men were poised to get into a nasty fight. Lance Henriksen as the cold hearted husband played a character typical of that time, mean and arrogant, but in this case, Monte James was prepared to show a good side when he realized he lost the woman he loved to another man and reluctantly agrees to let her go. All too often I’ve seen Mr. Henriksen as a much hated villain but seeing a little good side was a treat, and he did a fantastic job with it!!! Kevin Sorbo was an outstanding lead with his character Preston. He connects with the characters opposite him perfectly and there were many amusing moments and many instances that seem so typical of Kevin’s characters, the stubborn trait, difficult, surly and at times impossible and funny is always around when its needed and his character Preston was well defined and easy to relate to and then there are more wonderful moments when he can be wonderfully nice, gentle and kind especially with characters like these vulnerable women. He has a natural way of bonding with them.1024x576He is never in short supply of natural charm which oozes out of him so effortlessly so when we see that warm wonderful, caring side with a little touch of vulnerability in his character to make him feel real is a treat well worth waiting for and that passionate steamy scene was an added bonus in the end. No one does that better, he puts everything of the best in those moments, a perfect finish to a wonderful movie which is undoubtedly another treasure to behold!!! In conclusion, just want to add that it was a great script with a terrific story, fun action moments with gunfights and fist fights, terrific cast and a wonderful production. My only pet peeve is for the ending to have a few more extra minutes before fading to dark. The best moments are always the shortest but the sweetest!! I thank the entire production!! It was a great movie and I loved it!!

REVIEW: THE RIDICULOUS 6

CAST

Adam Sandler (Jack & Jill)
Terry Crews (White Chicks)
Jorge Garcia (Lost)
Taylor Lautner (Twilight)
Rob Schneider (The Hot Chick)
Luke Wilson (That 70s Show)
Nick Nolte (Hulk)
Will Forte (MacGruber)
Nick Swardson (Grown Ups 2)
Steve Zahn (War For The Planet of The Apes)
Julia Jones (Jonah Hex)
Lavell Crawford (Breaking Bad)
Danny Trejo (machete)
Harvey Keitel (Little Nicky)
Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
David Spade (8 Simple Rules)
Whitney Cummings (Made of Honor)
Jon Lovitz (Rate race)
Saginaw Grant (Grey owl)
Norm Macdonald (Dr. Dolittle)
Chris Parnell (Paper Man)
Blake Shelton (Pitch Perfect 2)
John Turturro (Transformers)
Chris Kattan (Undercover Brother)

In the Old West era, a calm man named Tommy Stockburn (Sandler) is raised by Native Americans, where he is named “White Knife”, due to his expertise with knives. He is due to marry a Native girl named Smoking Fox (Jones). He has a run-in with a gang of bandits with eye patches on their right eyes, led by Will Patch (Forte), and manages to outsmart them and a deranged, Native American-racist food proprietor named Clem (Zahn), whose left eye is badly dysfunctional. At his Native village a bank robber named Frank Stockburn (Nolte) comes by, claiming to be Tommy’s biological father. Tommy explains to Frank that his mother was shot by a silhouetted man with tattoos on his hand when she was escorting him to school during his childhood, something that has haunted his dreams since. Frank also tells Tommy that he is dying of consumption, but that he has amassed $50,000 and buried it in a meadow next to a pine tree, which he offers to Tommy and the Natives. The next day, a group of bandits with connections to Frank come to the village, led by the ruthless Cicero (Trejo) who want Frank to give them his “big score” he gained a while back. Frank has the bandits kidnap him so he can lead them to the $50,000 at the so-called “Singing Windmill”, in return for the bandits not attacking Tommy or the Indians. With no time to search the meadow and find the money, Tommy decides he must find another way to obtain it and save his father.Tommy sets out on his quest to regain his father and decides that the best way to gain enough money is by stealing it. However, because his tribe does not condone theft and claims it is dishonorable, Tommy instead opts to steal from those who have no honor, leading him to target corrupt politicians, racist bankers, and thugs alike. During his quest, Tommy discovers that he has 5 half-brothers; Mexican burro rider Ramon (Schneider), whose innkeeper mother Frank had a fling with; mentally challenged yet happy-go-lucky Lil’ Pete (Lautner), who has a strong neck that makes him immune to hanging; feral mountain-man Herm (Garcia), who speaks incomprehensibly; guilt-ridden drunkard Danny (Wilson), who served as a bodyguard for Abraham Lincoln until accidentally leading John Wilkes Booth to murder him; and African-American saloon pianist Chico (Crews), who confesses to be only 50 percent white; all of which join Tommy. Meanwhile, Clem joins the eye patch gang in hopes of finding Tommy to take revenge on him after Clem removes his only functional eye (since the other eye patch wearers claim that removing the right eye is part of the gang’s way) before they kidnap Tommy’s fiancee, though she manages to escape them due to Clem’s poor eyesight and heads out to find Frank. When meeting Chico and Danny, they run with Chico’s boss: the aggressive, always smiling saloon owner Smiley Harris (Keitel), who was part of Frank’s gang until Frank stole his cut of their biggest score and left him to die at the windmill. He owns a large golden nugget the brothers steal after Ramon, while riding his burro, accidentally decapitates Smiley with a shovel from behind just as he is about to shoot the brothers as revenge against Frank for his betrayal, though Ramon was only trying to knock him out. While relaxing in a pond, Clem and the eye patch gang show up and while the brothers manage to overpower them, the gang manage to steal the money the brothers stole. Hope isn’t lost for the brothers, as Herm (through Tommy’s translation) tells them that a gambler named Ezekiel Grant (Lovitz) is hosting a gambling game with Mark Twain (Vanilla Ice) and General George Armstrong Custer (Spade) in Yuma. After successfully robbing the poker game, they head out to ransom their father. 1280x720-TUtAs dusk falls, Tommy realizes (through a photograph carried by Danny) that it was Cicero who murdered his mother. Not wanting to put his brothers in harm’s way, Tommy sets out alone in the cover of night to rescue his father and confront his mother’s killer. After paying the ransom, Cicero decides to part ways but Tommy insists on getting his revenge. Having successfully killed Cicero, the half-brothers (who followed Tommy) have a reunion with their long lost father. Realizing that Tommy’s group now have $100,000 after rescuing the Left-Eye Gang and getting their original $50,000, Frank double crosses them, revealing that he was in cahoots with Cicero for an easy $50,000. Tommy then reveals that their group also has a Plan B: a hidden bomb inside the bag containing the ransom money. When the bomb explodes and commotion ensues, Frank runs off with Smoking Fox (whom his group has been holding hostage) inside a mine. Tommy runs after them and successfully rescues his bride-to-be and captures his father. Also, in the process of the fighting, the Left-Eye Gang accidentally reveal that they lied about removing their right eyes, much to Clem’s outrage. Back in the Native Village, Tommy weds Smoking Fox with his brothers in attendance. Since the revelation that their biological father Frank Stockburn was no more than a two-bit crook, the Native chief decides to adopt the half-brothers as he did with Tommy.ililuiluiluiluilThis movie is just stupid fun. It isn’t trying to be the great American Western, and it doesn’t take itself seriously. The cameos are great, and the acting is superb. Just suspend disbelief, and enjoy the journey.

REVIEW: BALLAD OF A GUNFIGHTER

CAST

Robert Carradine (Django Unchained)
Martin Sheen (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Clu Gulager (The Virginian)
Richard Epcar  (Batman Unlimited)
Kerrigan Mahan (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)

whenevil31_351Christopher Coppola has made a wise choice – he has not made a nostalgic “Western”; instead, he has approached the Cassidy story as a slice of what we used to call ‘Americana’; or what older critics once called ‘homespun’. As the film unraveled, I found myself more and more reminded of the great “Hallmark Theater” version of Mark Twain’s “Roughing It”, with James Garner narrating. Both these films remind us that, although films about the ‘old west’ are probably always to be mythic for Americans, they need not be ‘westerns’; they can very well be just films about what it meant to be American in that time, in that place. I never feel pandered to, watching this film; there’s no effort to shove the Boyd-Cassidy legacy down our throats, no irony, no camp. Consequently, I get a sense of these characters as having walked – or ridden horseback – across some real western America I too could have walked a hundred years ago.

Given that, the plainness of the film – it positively avoids anything we have come to call “style” – is all to its favor; and the plain acting of the performers fits neatly in with this; gosh, it really does feel like some story told around a campfire on a cattle drive – no visual dressing, just the quirks and good humor – and sudden violence – that we expect from the good narration of an adventure yarn. I was very pleasantly surprised by this film, and if the viewer sets aside encultured expectations, he or she will find considerable pleasure in it. I would have given this film 9-stars, but I’ll give it a ten just because most reviewers here have missed the point completely; and I urge them to set their memories of Boyd aside and give this film another chance.

 

REVIEW: YELLOW HAIR AND THE FORTRESS OF GOLD

CAST
Lauren Landon (Maniac Cop)
Ken Roberson (Rigged)
Cihangir Gaffari (Bloodsport)
Luis Lorenzo (Hundra)
Claudia Gravy (Byleth)
Aldo Sambrell (A Fistful of Dollars)
Eduardo Fajardo (Django)
Simple and plain Chorizo Western with breathtaking outdoors filmed in Almeria , Spain . This is an amusing Gazpacho Matinée Western plenty adventure , gold-lust clichés , and action-packed especially in its final part ; ending in an abrupt, ironic denouement . Paella Western with a fiery female lead , Laurene Landon , taking on multiple adventures and fierce battles . Gorgeous blonde mestizo Yellow Hair (Laurene Landon of All the marbles , Hundra, Maniac cop) and her sympathetic ,courageous sidekick Pecos Kid (Ken Robertson , also producer) are after a lot of gold in Aztec temple . This delightful action/adventure romp deals with a half-breed called Yellow Hair , a valiant warrior who was adopted in a tribe of fierce Comanches , but her origin is unknown . The brave duo have run-ins with an army of Mexican soldiers commanded by an effeminate general (Luis Lorenzo) , a gang of dastardly outlaws led by Flores (Aldo Sambrell), a mean saloon owner named Tortuga (easygoing Ramiro Oliveros) and a deadly tribe of Aztec warriors led by a fearsome Aztec chieftain named Shayowteewah (John Ghaffari) while searching the countryside for said gold treasure . Thrilling and stirring movie full of imagination and fantasy that introduces us a brave heroine , female counterpart to Jeronimo . Yellow Hair is superior to any male, woman of beauty ,a warrior of strength ,a hunter of man . Yellow Hair finds her mother (Claudia Gravy) slain and takes a vow of lethal vendetta until one day she meets her match .
image-w448This exciting film packs noisy action , adventure and rip-roaring fights . Dumb images , unintentionally hilarious and lots of amusement and entertainment . Made on a fairly middling scale with passable set design , glimmer photography and acceptable musical score . The film is a crossover from ¨Spaghetti Western genre¨ , ¨Raiders of the lost ark¨ (Spielberg) , ¨Against a crooked spy¨ (Earl Bellamy) and ¨MacKenna’s gold¨ (J.L.Thompson) with fantastic inspiration in the rare Indians and the spectacular outdoors . This entertaining picture contains frenetic action , struggles and moving action scenes , including blood and beheading . The film is full of freaks and bemusing situations ; it is quite entertaining because being a laborious and intriguing adventure tale with some unintentional humor . The picture was made at the same time to ¨Hundra¨ sharing similar technician and artistic team . Sympathetic performance by Laurene Landon as Yellow Hair , a valiant woman who has been raised to despise the influence of men , she the finest warrior of her people . Agreeable support cast full of Spanish actors such as Ramiro Oliveros, Luis Lorenzo and Spaghetti usual as Eduardo Fajardo , Daniel Martin and Frank Braña . Colorful and evocative cinematography by John Cabrera as the film gets sensational landscapes wonderfully shot . Very derivative special effects , acceptable production design and matte paintings . The picture was shot in Texas Hollywood-Fort Bravo , Almeria, Spain and ¨Condor¨ fortress , where was filmed several Spaghetti as ¨ Blind man, Massacre at Fort Holman¨, ¨A man called Noon¨ , ¨El Condor¨ and ¨Conan the Barbarian¨ .
201001It’s an old-fashioned B film on an acceptable scale and basically enjoyable because of it.

REVIEW: THE LEGEND OF ZORRO

CAST

Antonio Banderas (The 13th Warrior)
Catherine Zeta-Jones (Entrapment)
Adrián Alonso (Cristiada)
Rufus Sewell (A knight’s Tale)
Nick Chinlund (The Chronicles of Riddick)
Julio Oscar Mechoso (Jurassic Park 3)
Michael Emerson (Lost)

In 1851, nine years after the events of the first film, Don Alejandro de la Vega is married to Elena and has a son, Joaquin. California is voting on whether to join the United States of America as a state. Zorro foils a plot to steal ballots. During the fight with a gunman named Jacob McGivens, he briefly loses his mask. A pair of Pinkerton agents sees his face and recognize him. The following day, the Pinkertons confront Elena and force her to divorce Alejandro. Three months later, Alejandro is living in a hotel. The separation from Elena and the feeling that the people no longer need Zorro are taking its toll on him. His childhood guardian, Father Felipe, convinces him to attend a party at French Count Armand’s new vineyard. There, Alejandro discovers that Elena is dating the count. After leaving the party, Alejandro witnesses a huge explosion close to Armand’s mansion and becomes suspicious of him.

McGivens leads an attack on the family of Guillermo Cortez, Alejandro’s friend, to seize their land deed. Donning his mask again, Zorro rescues Guillermo’s wife and son, but fails to save Guillermo and the deed. Zorro follows McGivens to at Armand’s mansion and discovers that Armand plans to build a railroad on Cortez’s land. Zorro encounters Elena, and learns of an upcoming shipment. He tracks McGivens to a cove where the cargo is delivered. Unbeknownst to him, Joaquin also hitched a ride on McGiven’s cart, having sneaked out of a class trip. Zorro saves his son from the bandits. Examing the shipment, he sees a piece of the cargo, a bar of soap, and the name Orbis Unum from a crate lid.

Felipe and Alejandro then learn that Armand is the head of a secret society, the Knights of Aragon, which has been secretly ruling Europe. The United States is deemed a threat to the Knights. Thus, they plans to throw the country into chaos before it can gain too much power. Alejandro is then captured by the Pinkertons. They reveal to him that they forced Elena to divorce Alejandro and get close to Armand and learn of his plans. Joaquin frees Alejandro from captivity. Zorro goes to Armand’s mansion, meets Elena, and eavesdrops on Armand’s meeting. He learns that the soap bars contain glycerin – a precursor to nitroglycerin. Armand plans to distribute the substance throughout the Confederate Army, with the help of Confederate Colonel Beauregard, to destroy the Union. Zorro and Elena reconcile, and Zorro prepares to destroy the train carrying the explosives. McGivens arrives at Felipe’s church to look for Zorro. Unable to find him, McGivens shoots the priest and kidnaps Joaquin.

At the mansion, Armand is informed by his butler, Ferroq, about Elena’s deception. He confronts her and showing her the bodies of the Pinkerton agents. He takes her and Joaquin hostage on the train carrying the explosives, making Zorro unable to destroy it. Zorro is captured and unmasked in front of his son, to Joaquin’s shock. Armand takes Joaquin and Elena away and orders McGivens to kill Alejandro. Felipe, having been saved from McGivens’s bullet by a cross he wears, arrives. He and Alejandro overpower and kill McGivens. Zorro catches up with Armand and they engage in a sword fight. Meanwhile, Elena has Joaquin escape into the back cars of the train, which she disconnects. Elena then fights Ferroq in the nitro storage car. He and Colonel Beauregard are then killed in an explosion.

Further along the tracks, witnessed by a huge crowd, the governor prepares to sign the bill to make California a state. Joaquin collects Tornado, Zorro’s horse, jumps off the train, and follows it. He hits a track switch, causing the train to harmlessly pass around the ceremony. Zorro and Armand’s duel takes them to the very front of the locomotive. Seeing the track is a dead end, Zorro hooks Armand to the train and escapes with Elena. The train crashes into the pile of rails at the end of the track, setting off the nitroglycerin, killing Armand. With Zorro as an official witness, the governor signs the bill, and California becomes the 31st state of the United States of America. Felipe remarries Alejandro and Elena with Joaquin as the only witness. Alejandro apologizes to his son for hiding his identity, and admits that Zorro’s identity is a family secret rather than just his own. With Elena’s support, Zorro rides off on Tornado to his next mission.

The Legend of Zorro has great action, if you like this kind of film don’t miss it and don’t pay attention to the critics.

REVIEW: THE MASK OF ZORRO

CAST

Antonio Banderas (The 13th Warrior)
Catherine Zeta-Jones (Entrapment)
Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Stuart Wilson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
Matt Letscher (Legends of Tomorrow)
Tony Amendola (Stargate SG.1)
Maury Chaykin (Iron Eagle II)

In 1821, Don Diego De La Vega (Anthony Hopkins), a Californio nobleman fights against the Spanish in the Mexican War of Independence as Zorro, a mysterious swordsman who defends the Mexican peasants and commoners of Las Californias. Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson), the corrupt governor of the region, learns of De La Vega’s alter ego, and attempts to arrest him. De La Vega’s wife is killed during the scuffle. Montero imprisons De La Vega and takes his infant daughter, Elena, as his own. Twenty years later Montero returns to California as a civilian, alongside Elena (Catherine Zeta Jones), who has grown into a beautiful woman. Montero’s reappearance motivates De La Vega to escape from prison. He encounters a thief, Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas), who, as a child, once did Zorro a favor. De La Vega decides that fate has brought them together, and agrees to make Alejandro his protégé, grooming him to be the new Zorro. Alejandro agrees to undergo De La Vega’s training regimen in Zorro’s lair underneath the ruins of his family estate in order to be able to take revenge on Captain Harrison Love (Matt Letscher), Montero’s right-hand man, who was responsible for killing Alejandro’s brother, Joaquin.While still being trained, Alejandro steals a black stallion resembling Tornado from the local garrison. De La Vega scolds Alejandro, claiming that Zorro was a servant of the people, not a thief and adventurer. He challenges Alejandro to gain Montero’s trust instead. Alejandro poses as a visiting nobleman named Don Alejandro del Castillo y García, with De La Vega as his servant, and attends a party at Montero’s hacienda. At the party he gains Elena’s admiration and enough of Montero’s trust to be invited to a secret meeting where several other noblemen are present. Montero hints at a plan to retake California for the Dons by buying it from General Santa Anna, who needs money to fund his upcoming war with the United States.Montero takes Alejandro and the noblemen to a secret gold mine known as “El Dorado”, where peasants and prisoners are used for slave labor. Montero plans to buy California from Santa Anna using gold mined from Santa Anna’s own land. De La Vega uses this opportunity to become closer to Elena, though he identifies himself as “Bernardo” the servant, learning that Montero told Elena that her mother died in childbirth. While walking in a market, Elena meets the woman who was her nanny who tells Elena her parents’ real identity. De La Vega sends Alejandro, dressed as Zorro, to steal Montero’s map leading to the gold mine. Zorro duels Montero, Love, and their guards at the hacienda. When Zorro escapes, Elena attempts to retrieve Montero’s map from the swordsman, but he seduces her, leading to a passionate kiss before he flees.Terrified of Santa Anna’s retribution if he discovers that he is being paid with his own gold, Montero, at Love’s urging, decides to destroy the mine and kill the workers. De La Vega tells Alejandro to release the workers on his own so that De La Vega can reclaim Elena. Alejandro sets off, feeling betrayed by Diego’s vendetta. De La Vega corners Montero at the hacienda and reveals his identity, but Montero captures him by threatening Elena. As he is taken away, De La Vega tells Elena the name of the flowers she recognized upon her arrival in California, convincing her that he is her father. She releases De La Vega from his cell and they proceed to the mine, where Alejandro and De La Vega respectively defeat and slay Love and Montero. Elena and Alejandro free the workers before the explosives go off, and then find the mortally wounded De La Vega. He makes peace with Alejandro before dying, passing the mantle of Zorro to him, and gives his blessings for his marriage to Elena. In a closing sequence they are shown to be living together after rebuilding the De La Vega family manor with a son named Joaquín, in honor of Alejandro’s brother.Wonderful movie, visually rich and a nice blend of comedy, action and romance, well-written. Hopkins is great; so is Banderas as Zorro-in-training, and Zeta-Jones sparkles in her scenes with him.