The Mask of Zorro (1998) starring Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones is an old-fashioned, swash-buckling adventure movie, peppered with romance, honorable heros and a beautiful true heroine!
Ably directed by Martin Compbell and produced by Steven Spielberg, Anthony Hopkins plays the part of the original mysteriously masked Zorro, the legendary hero and protector who fought all evil with one slash of his sword in the mark of a ‘Z’. Hidden behind his mask, Zorro’s true identity is the nobleman Don Diego de la Vega who has been imprisoned for over 20 years but having escaped, returns now to seek revenge upon his arch enemy Don Raphael Montero (Stuart Wilson) who took away his freedom, murdered his wife and snatched his beloved baby daughter, Elena to bring up as his own daughter.
Set in 18th century Mexico and California, with the help of the devellish bandit Alejandro Murieta (Antonio Banderas), Don Diego plots to reclaim his daughter and stop his rival Montero taking over more land to rule over from the oppressed peasants he is imprisoning or murdering. Don Diego plans to school Alejandro to be the new Zorro, complete with signature cloak and mask attire. Alejandro has his own score to settle with Montero, his own brother having died at the hands of Montero’s sidekick, army Captain Harrison Love (Matt Letscher).
Don Diego sets about teaching his young apprentice the art of sword-fencing, horsemanship, and agility stunts such as swinging on ropes, and jumping onto his horse to quickly flee from danger – he teaches him every daring trick in the book in preparation for his confrontation with the wicked Don Raphael, as well as how to be witty and charming!
Not many movies with Anthony Hopkins portray him in a sexy role, but The Mask of Zorro gives him ample licence on this score and it is a visual treat to see Hopkins in this role of mentor to the newly empowered Zorro.
With his training complete, disguised as a Spanish nobleman Alejandros infiltrates a party at the house of the villian Don Raphael who is now very rich from plundering Mexican goldmines and plans to use the ill-gotten funds to buy California.
It is here that Alejandros meets the beautiful Elena who is as skilled at sword play as any man.
The dance and the sword duelling scenes between Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are played out with sensual sparks flying between the two, as this fiery but tempestuous young woman falls for this mysterious, handsome young man in his swirling black cape. The somewhat erotic, well choreographed duel between the two ends with him ripping her clothes with the sharp point of his steel sword.
Fun is provided in the form of high-speed chases on horseback, acrobatics and even fighting with bull’s horns!
The movie is complimented with appropriate lavish period costume and scenes reminiscent of the old wild west, complete with haciendas and sombreros.
The Mask of Zorro movie is highly entertaining, witty and undoubtedly one of the best Anthony Hopkins movies and it is well-deserved of being in our top ten Anthony Hopkins movies.
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