The Mask of Zorro
Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Directed by Martin Campbell
Tri-Star Pictures 1998
Sony Home Entertainment 2005
137 minutes

The Mask Of Zorro : Few other roles have had so many actors take a crack at than that of Zorro (the fox).  From Guy Williams who was pretty good in the Disney TV series. Douglas Fairbanks (1920) and Tyrone Power (1940) in The Mark of Zorro, to the very weird Zorro The Gay Blade with tanning icon George Hamilton.  The character himself has not changed throughout the years.

Don Diego Vega a rich landlord dons a black cape and mask to defend the oppressed from some Spanish tyrant whose name is somewhat interchangeable.  The Mask Of Zorro, reissued as a deluxe edition by Sony Home Entertainment in the wake of the theatrical release of The Legend Of Zorro features not one but two Zorros and not one but two really good actors.

Both Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas wear the black cape and mask in this installment.The Mask Of Zorro gets it right.  From the very beginning when the hero shows up to save a few people from execution and avoids the trap set up by baddie Don Rafael Montero with the help of two orphans you know the writer and director have done their homework.  They quickly satisfy the expectations of the original fans by throwing in the expected swashbuckling and comic moments before moving on to the story they really want to tell.Basically, Don Rafael Montero captures Don Diego, takes everything away from him including his daughter, and puts him in jail for a very long time.

Twenty years later Montero returns to California and it is this return that allows Don Diego aka Anthony Hopkins to escape from jail.  He almost kills Montero but realizes Montero’s daughter (Catherine Zeta Jones) is in reality his own daughter so he holds back.  Don Diego, now a poor man, takes a petty criminal, Antonio Banderas, under his wing and teaches him the ways of the Z.  They will, of course, battle the evil Spaniard and save the lovely Catherine Zeta Jones from living with her mother’s killer.  They will, of course and that is the point that would have made or broken this movie, fight with each other, combine forces, enjoy lots of swordfights with the evil minions, perform lots of cool stunts, and, of course, defeat the real bad guy.

The interesting new bit in this movie is we finally get to see how you train before getting to wear the black mask of the hero.  Of course, there is so somewhat mystical mumbo-jumbo Karate Kid stuff thrown in but, thankfully, the movie does not linger too much on that and tells you just enough to satisfy your curiosity.  Another good choice was to allow Alejandro, the new Zorro, to remain himself even after all those lessons from the original good guy

The Mask Of Zorro is a very entertaining, action-packed, somewhat very violent at times and sometimes very funny movie.  The writing is superb and has some very funny moments such as this one when old Z decides to train a new Z:

Hopkins: (pointing at the sword Banderas is holding) Do you know how to use that thing?

Banderas: The pointy end goes into the other man.

Hopkins: We have a long way to go

Or this moment when Antonio Banderas dons the mask for the first time and looks at himself:

“Zorro, you look better than ever.”

Special features in this deluxe edition include the usual director’s commentary, a documentary titled Unmasking Zorro, a couple of music videos, photo galleries and so on.  It also includes a sneak peak at the making of The Legend of Zorro, a scene from the new movie.  For a limited time the movie also includes a coupon for one free admission to the new movie or money off the purchase of the Spiderman movies, Desperado, Once Upon A Time In Mexico, or even the Dvd version of Legend.

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