The action/adventure serials were a staple of entertainment in the early twentieth century. Based on a simple hero/villain concept, the story moved sequentially through a series of episodes. With the exception of the final episode, they all ended with a cliff hanger where there seemed to be no way the hero could survive. Of course, they did, although the reason was not always completely plausible.
This DVD contains twelve chapters of a retelling of the folk hero of Zorro, created in 1919 by Johnston McCulley. He is a masked vigilante who defended the poor and downtrodden from the evil clutches of tyrannical officials and other villains. The viewer familiar with comic book heroes will recognize the features "borrowed" by other writers when they created their heroes.
In this case, the villain is a big city unscrupulous financier named J. A. Marsden. His goal is to take control of the California-Yucatan Railroad and he is employing El Lobo, the leader of a gang of outlaws that will engage in murder and sabotage in order to bankrupt the railroad so that he can buy it for nearly nothing.
Zorro is his main opponent, he is in fact one of the owners of the railroad, his secret identity is known only to his boyhood friend. He has a cave hideout and a very smart horse. Roy Rogers fans will recognize many of the tricks as the same ones that Trigger performed. Coming at the sound of a whistle and holding off a villain or two.
While much of the action is that of the wild west western with guns and horse transportation, the environment is very modern. There is electricity, cars, telephones, primitive radios and a lot of gunfire. As was typical of the serials, the action moves deliberately slowly. In order to prevent an early resolution, both sides often give up their pursuit far too quickly.
Although the action is nowhere near as slick as the modern videos with high-quality special effects, this remains a fun video story. When I watched it, I had the same thought that I had when I first saw it on a late afternoon children's show when I was young. The stunt man playing Zorro really had to be careful when he jumped from a height into the saddle of his horse.