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THE LEGEND OF ZORRO by Martin Campbell

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The Legend Of Zorro It’s ten years after THE MASK OF ZORRO, and the Californians are voting if California shall join the United States, and when bad guys try to sabotage the vote, it’s time for the masked hero to ride again. In a dashing opening sequence, Zorro (Antonio Banderas) jumps, runs, rides and and fences to save the ballot box and bring it safely to the governor to the cheers of the townsfolk. But Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is less happy – after all, she and Alejandro de la Vega have a ten year old son, Joaquin, and Alejandro has promised to stop his adventurous life as Zorro and to take care of his family. But the people need Zorro (and Alejandro needs his adventures), so he has to decide: either it’s his mask, his sword and Tornado, his faithful horse – or Elena and Joaquin. Divorce comes quickly, and while Alejandro spends his nights drinking, Elena begins a relationship with Armand, a French nobleman and vintager – and with sinister plans of his own for the future of California and the United States. It’s up to Zorro, Elena and Joaquin to discover what it’s about with the railway, the vineyard and the soap and to save the day and America.

While it’s always a bad sign to have a kid in a sequel (The Mummy Returns, anyone?), we are lucky Joaquin (Adrian Alonso) is not as annoying as little Anakin or the kids from WAR OF THE WORLDS. The action is all you expect from a Zorro-film: horseriding, acrobatic breakneck jumps onto and off of buildings, framework and, most notably, a train – and – of course – lots of swordfighting. Antonio Banderas shows he’s still up to the task (though he claimed in interviews this was his last Zorro movie because his back aches too much during the action sequences), and Catherine Zeta Jones is both beautiful and a fierce fighter.
Alas – sequel alert! – the chemistry is not as sparkling as in THE MASK OF ZORRO, and do we really need to see a Zorro getting scolded at by his wife (instead of fighting a dozen corrupt soldiers)? But that’s the price of both getting grown up in real life, and of sequels in Hollywood.

So we still have lots of good handmade (well, most of it) action, humor (though not as great as in THE MASK OF ZORRO), love and romance (though not as fresh as in THE MASK OF ZORRO), and there is this vexatious kiddie-problem. No, not Adrian Alonso’s performance, but the fact that this movie is rated PG – which means the gorgeous Catherine Zeta-Jones is allowed to look beautiful but not to be really sexy, and – even worse – it means there is not more than three drops of blood on the screen, ever. Including the swordfights. Which makes them, for all their good stunt-choreography, look somewhat like fights out of old Terence Hill and Bud Spencer-movies, or fights with Stan and Ollie!
It seems Alejandro/Zorro has forgotten what he said to Don Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins, who is also sadly missing in THE LEGEND OF ZORRO) at the beginning of his swordfight classes in THE MASK OF ZORRO:
Don Diego de la Vega: Do you know how to use that thing?
Alejandro Murrieta: Yes. The pointy end goes into the other man.

The pointy end never goes into the other man in LEGEND – even the classic Mark of Zorro is only sliced into the clothes of the baddies, never into their skin – and that’s just not right!

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