Don Diego is on his way back home when he stops to visit an old friend, Miguel de la Serna (Marino Masé). Miguel has just been appointed the governor of Nuova Aragon, following his uncle's death. Before Miguel can take the post, however, a group of men burst into the hotel where they are staying the night and fatally wound Miguel. Before he dies, he convinces Don Diego to go to Nuova Aragon and pose as him, but makes him swear that he will not use violence to help the people of the city. When Don arrives, he puts on an exaggerated imitation of the rich and powerful for Huerta and the other aristocrats, while secretly scoping out the lay of the land with his faithful mute servant Joaquín (Enzo Cerusico).
Director Duccio Tessari sets a goofy, comedic tone for most of the movie, which is surprising, but fun. I think many viewers would think suave wit before wacky hijinks, but this is definitely more of the latter: there's plenty of goofy business with the fat Sgt. Garcia (Moustache), who spends most of the movie falling on his butt (yes, his pants split at one point). There's even a scene where Don Diego and Joaquín "talk" to the dog. It's silly, but Tessari knows what he's doing, and Delon is perfect for it. He's just the right kind of handsome to seem like an action star in the mask and buffoonish and unthreatening in fancy robes, and he has lots of fun playing Miguel, gasping and stumbling all over himself (yet, wisely, he also never quite crosses over into insulting fey caricature). At the same time, the lighthearted nature of most of the film doesn't stand in the way of meatier drama, which Tessari handles with ease whenever Zorro and Huerta are face-to-face. One scene, with Zorro and Joaquín whacking attackers in the forest with logs, might be a little too goofy, but it's a minor quibble at best.
Zorro's closest ally in the cause to help the people is the beautiful Contessina Ortensia Pulido (Ottavia Piccolo). Although she comes from a wealthy family, she despises the upper class. Predictably, Huerta is determined to make Contessina his wife, despite her protests, and also predictably, she quickly falls for Zorro and his dashing antics. Piccolo only has so much to do, but her spunky personality shines through in her interactions with the other characters. An early scene with all three players is one of the film's highlights. Sadly, the thread is not as developed as viewers might hope at the beginning, and I wouldn't be surprised if the filmmakers had hoped to explore more of Zorro and Contessina's relationship in future films that did not come to fruition.
The film ends with a spectacular swordfight that feels like Tessari set out to cover every classic swordfighting scene in history: Zorro and Huerta start in the courtyard, head into an armory, move to the stairs, fight on the roof beams of a giant cathedral, head up into a bell tower, and finally end up on top of a castle tower. Along the way, they pick up axes and torches, destroy the decor, and slice up a few candles for good measure. It's a rousing conclusion that sends an already excellent Zorro adventure out with a bang -- fans of Zorro of any age should enjoy this funny, exciting incarnation.
The Video and Audio
An English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is strong, if not as impressive as the picture. Dialogue is easy to understand, even if the source material is still murky, and that theme song is big and bold. The only disappointment is the lack of subtitles or captions -- always a disappointing oversight.
Beyond the cut of the film, there's not much here: a couple of text bios written in a very tiny font, a photo gallery, and three restoration comparisons that are unusually unimpressive -- it seems to be a comparison between the new print used on this release before and after some clean-up, rather than a comparison between a previous DVD master and the new Blu-Ray master.
Two original trailers and two radio spots are also included.