Indeed, there is nothing about this movie that is subtle or nuanced for better and mostly for worse, and that goes for the story as well. Set in a fake South American country, Zorro finds himself taking on the identity of his recently murdered friend, Miguel De La Serna, and taking the role of governor of Nuova Aragon in the hopes of finding the killer and bringing him to justice. What he finds is a country under the grip of Colonel Huerta (Stanley Baker), who keeps the people under an iron fist, but Zorro of course balances the scales. And as you might expect, the governor/Zorro winds up on a collision course with Colonel who -- shocker -- killed Miguel. And yes, there is a damsel in sort-of-distress, Contessina Ortensia Pulido (Ottavia Piccolo), an aristocrat who sides with The People, who also runs afoul of the Colonel, who naturally wants to marry her.
But perhaps even more egregious is the filmmaking itself. Tonally off balance, "Zorro" attempts to be a thrilling, hard-hitting action adventure, but makes some pretty wide reaching and sometimes jarring concessions to kids, including a gesticulating mute sidekick who can only communicate in funny sounds, a little kid who keeps the legend of Zorro alive among the people and lots of pratfalls, particularly from one fat, bumbling baddie. But worse, it seems that even with the amount of coverage Tessari managed, takes and prints must have been damaged in the editing process. Every now and then a scene will randomly cut to a camera angle from literally two rooms away -- sometimes shooting through a bizarre amount of foreground objects -- either because it was the best shot he had, or the ADR was so awful they couldn't show the actor's mouths.
And it's that missing quality that ultimately makes "Zorro" only recommended to those who want to see one of the least accomplished entries in the genre. As we mentioned, the production values are minimal at best and outside of Delon, the cast are mostly slotting in archetypes (fat slob, mustache twirling villain, earnest love interest, cute kid) without much fanfare. And calling this a "digitally re-mastered, gorgeously restored" edition of this movie stretches the meaning of those words considerably -- it still looks pretty beat up all around with lots of print damage. But we will say this, once you hear Oliver Onions' theme song -- repeated ad nauseum throughout the movie whenever Zorro appears -- you will not forget it. [D+]
"Zorro" is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.