The mysterious Don Del Oro ("Lord of Gold"), an idol of the Yaqui Indians, plans to take over the gold and become Emperor. Francisco was put in charge of a legion to combat the Yaqui tribe and protect the land, but when attacked Zorro came to his rescue. Francisco's partner recognized Zorro as the hidalgo Don Diego Vega, then ask him to take over the fighting legion as his alter-ego Zorro.
It's complicated... I really like the directing, acting and writing but, there are issues with the way it's shot that I just can't deny. As much as I love the storytelling and the fantastic performance but, there are also certain scenes that didn't need to exist.
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Many critics regard chapter 7 as the best of the serial. Personally, I prefer number 8, though I must admit 7 runs it close for thrills with Merton's brilliantly edited stagecoach escape and chase. 7 ends right in the middle of Canutt's famous under-the-coach stunt. 8 has the stunt complete, plus a marvelous sequence with Ramon trapped in a blazing jail by a wonderfully vicious peg-legged turnkey.
9 is the economy episode, most of it consisting of footage from chapters 1 and 2 featuring Merton, plus a bit of Cobb from chapter 3. The tie-in council conference is all directed by English in his usual lackluster style, including would you believe the cliffhanger itself.
10 is certainly an improvement, as we get back to a bit of Witney action and Lydecker miniature work.
11 is one of the best. The ceremonial cave atmosphere is creepy enough, while the cliffhanger is a real humdinger.
12 has the longest introductory reprise of any of the episodes. The final unmasking of Don Del Oro is reasonably exciting. Zorro also unmasks, would you believe? And for the heroine yet! For someone who receives billing right after Hadley, Miss Darcy has certainly had an easy time. She figures briefly in but four or five of the twelve episodes. Very briefly. She seems a very nice girl too. Never mind. The serial is wound up to all our satisfactions by the re-appearance of Carleton Young's Juarez and a few rousing bars of "We Ride".
One or two odd lapses in continuity (the mission that is blown up at the end of an early ep is magically restored much later on) plus a few of the usual cliffhanging "cheat" shots would not have worried the serial's original Saturday matinee fans. Nor would the generally no more than passable acting; nor some unintentionally risible examples of corny, cliched, amateurish, explaining-the-obvious dialogue. Full of energy and gusto, Zorro's Fighting Legion deserves its number one choice among many critics as the best serial ever made. It's not my favorite (that's Jungle Girl), but it certainly rates in my Top Ten.
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Reed Hadley makes a better foppish Don Diego than he does a dashing and daring Zorro, but that's almost beside the point because this serial features the bar-none best theme song of any serial, ever -- and the best version of Yakima Canutt's famous stagecoach stunt. There are other good stunts, and lots of action, and plenty of hair-raising cliff-hanger chapter endings, but if for no other reason, you must see this film to watch the stagecoach stunt, then re-watch it in slow motion. It is incredible, and, despite the lower budget for this chapter play, Yak turns in a better take on the stunt here than he did in the far more celebrated film "Stagecoach." Indiana Jones, eat your heart out: This is the real deal!
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Best of the Zorro serials and one of my favorite serials, period. This is a period serial set right after the birth of Mexico. The new nation is counting on the gold produced by this one town to keep the republic solvent. However a gold god, Don del Oro is stirring up the Indians and stealing the gold for himself. Its Zorro and his band of men to the rescue. Reed Hadley is a winning Zorro and he cuts a dashing figure as he gets into a nice selection of scraps (most all of which were reused by the later Zorro serials as well as other serials as well).The story moves and its nicely not clear who the real bad guy is. There is a reason that I've seen this the most of any serial I've seen, its simply a great action adventure film. The only thing I can compare it to is the Mark of Zorro with Tyrone Power or one of the other swashbucklers of the period. Its super and highly recommended.
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If you are a fan of Zorro, Indiana Jones, or action in general this is a must-see. Directed by Republic's ace team of William Witney and John English, and starring Reed Hadley as Don Diego/Zorro, this serial delivers! I won't bore you with the plot (who cares? less talking, more fighting); what really matters here is Hadley's superb interpretation of the character/s and the stunt work of Dale van Sickel and Yakima Canutt. ***STUNT SPOILERS FOLLOW ***You can see the influence this film had on Lucas and Spielberg -- Zorro gets caught in the original version of the Star Wars trash compactor in one chapter, trapped on a rope bridge a'la Temple of Doom in another, does a Raiders horse-to-coach transfer and even flees through a tunnel while the baddies knock over a huge water tank and flood the tunnel behind him, exactly as Mola Ram does to Indy in Temple of Doom. In addition to all this, the whip action is great as Zorro disarms villains, swings to safety, etc. with his trusty lash. Most of the sword work is fair to lame, except for chapter one, which features a terrific sword brawl in a cantina choreographed by sword/stunt legend Ralph Faulkner, who makes a rare screen appearance as the evil Rodriguez. This was the first serial I ever saw, on Matinée at the Bijou when I was a kid and I have been hooked on them ever since. Zorro's Fighting Legion delivers "Z" goods!