When evil tyrant Luis Bonosario enslaves the people of 19th century Los Angeles, Don Diego de Vega, "the greatest swordsman in Spain," returns from Madrid to make the world safe for truth, justice, and naked women! Posing as a limp-wristed pansy by day (who rides a white donkey while clutching a parasol), Don Diego secretly becomes Zorro at night, "brandishing his long, quick rapier!" When he's not helping the oppressed, fighting duels, or slashing the letter "Z" onto derrieres, Zorro is busy bedding down a gaggle of gorgeous senoritas until he zeros in on Maria, Bonasario's lovely niece.
Director Martin Campbell, well-known to the action arena after 1995's GoldenEye, teams up with executive producer Steven Spielberg to bring the first Hollywood production of creator Johnston McCulley's Zorro in over four decades to the big screen. With scenic 18th century Mexico as a backdrop, Anthony Hopkins plays the original Zorro, a.k.a. Don Diego de la Vega, intent on revenge after rival enemy Don Raphael Montero (Stuart Wilson) murdered his wife and took his daughter, Elena. After being imprisoned for 20 years, the fabled hero removes his mask and takes on a tarnished young apprentice, Alejandro Murieta (Antonio Banderas), to infiltrate Montero's plan to take control of California from Santa Anna.
This is perhaps the best of the many Zorro films as Tyrone Power gives an outstanding performance as the alternately swishing and swashbuckling son of a 19th century California aristocrat. As a champion of the oppressed, Zorro must face a wicked governor portrayed by J. Edward Bromberg, who, of course, has a beautiful niece whom our hero loves. Basil Rathbone is a delightfully evil assistant to the governor. Based on Johnston McCulley's novel The Curse of Capistrano, The Mark of Zorro was a remake of the 1920 silent film and by far superior to all the Zorro incarnations. Interspersed with humor and one-liners but still keeping up with the highest of swashbuckling traditions, it is an action-packed story of one man standing against a corrupt, oppressive government on behalf of those less able to bear their burdens.