Alejandro de la Vega (Antonio Banderas) and his wife Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) are living in California in the year 1850, about six years after Alejandro took on the persona of the masked legend, Zorro. After California becomes the 31st state to be voted into the Union, a.k.a. the United States of America, Zorro promises to hang up his mask. Finally, Alejandro and Elena de la Vega can be “real” Dons and raise their 10-year-old son, Joaquin (Adrian Alonso).
Zorro is forced to intervene when the lives of innocent, law-abiding San Mateo citizens are threatened and their lands are stolen. This infuriates Elena, who forces him to choose between protecting the citizens of California and being a true husband and father. But political uprisings cause Zorro to grab his mask and run, while Elena serves him with divorce papers.
The famous swashbuckler is devastated, but puts himself together long enough to start unraveling a complex plot he feels is related to Armand, a French aristocrat (Rufus Sewell), who just happens to be Elena’s new man.
Needless to say, this Zorro movie is full of sword fighting sequences. Executive producers Steven Spielberg, Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber, put together an excellent mix of romance, comedy and hot, steamy action. Spielberg, the only producer involved in the making of The Mask of Zorro (1995), brings in just the right amount of historical background to jump-start the action without getting into too much detail on the story of Zorro. So while one must have seen The Mask of Zorro to truly understand the characters, the personage of Zorro is self-descriptive.
The chemistry between Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones makes this movie a real thrill to watch. Whenever Zorro and Elena are arguing, kissing – which there isn’t too much of, thank goodness – or battling a group of bad guys, the audience is left breathless, caught up in the action.
That isn’t to say that the film was all sword slashing, however. There is a compelling story behind the action, as Zorro struggles to find a balance between his love for his family and his responsibilities as a defender of the people. Alejandro’s young son, Joaquin, idolizes Zorro but despises his father for being idle while innocent people get hurt. Young actor Adrian Alonso is brilliant in his first major English language production, and truly brings the character of Joaquin to life.
Apart from the expected sword fights and plot twists and turns, what really makes The Legend of Zorro a box office winner is the comedy. Whether it is a joke or Zorro’s unique ways of dealing with his separation, this film will truly make you laugh.
For once, the sequel of a popular movie isn’t just a marketing ploy. The Legend of Zorro is an excellent stand-alone movie, and an even better sequel.