Thursday, July 30, 2009

Two Modern Takes on Zorro

(There are certain bus lines in Metro Manila that have TVs and, often, DVD players installed so that passengers and driving crew alike could have some distraction from traffic or the grind of the road. If the bus isn't playing a DVD movie, chances are, it's tuned to a local television channel.)

My, my, there seems to be a bit of Zorro revival going on this year....

While commuting to work this morning, I heard on the TV that local network GMA's licensed drama series version of Zorro - the one with Richard Gutierrez is now in its final two weeks of airing.

In this local production, Zorro's civilian identity is Antonio de la Cruz Pelaez, and he's supposed to be some kind of distant relation or descendant of the real Zorro, a/k/a Don Diego de la Vega. However, Antonio's love interest is named Lolita Pulido - the same name as Don Diego's own love interest! Confused yet?

Whenever the commercials for this soap-opera/adventure story series show up I am instead reminded of the recent musical version staged by the Takarazuka Kagekidan, Zorro - The Masked Messiah. This was paired with a revue showcase of traditional Japanese dance and theater or Nihonmono, titled Kaze no Nishiki-e ["Nishiki-e of the Wind"]

A Snow Troupe (Yukigumi) production, the Zuka Zorro show had THREE Zorros! Top Star Mizu Natsuki plays both Don Diego and Zorro, while her partner Shirahane Yuri plays the dual roles of Lolita Pulido and Lady Zorro. The third Zorro is actually Otozuki Kei as Bernardo, Diego's Indian friend, who dresses up in the black togs as part of Zorro's diversionary tactics.

On the left, an official publicity flyer for the Takarazuka Kagekidan production of Zorro - The Masked Messiah, showing both Mizu Natsuki and Shirahane Yuri in their swashbuckling gear. On the right, a publicity shot of Richard Gutierrez as Zorro.

Having seen brief video clips of both shows, I prefer the Zuka production - and one of the major reasons is because Lolita actually takes up a sword and beats up on bad guys. Yes, at some point she gets foiled, necessitating the return of the real Zorro, but still - Lolita as an action girl, awesome! Problem with the TV series is that their Lolita tends to be just a typical damsel in distress....

And for a Zorro-vs.-Zorro comparison - Mizu Natsuki puts on a more effective performance for me as compared to Richard Gutierrez, whom I can never seem to take seriously no matter what role he is in. Sure, he has the bone structure and he's had some fight training - but Mizu is a professional when it comes to swords and other weapons, having done action and warrior roles throughout her long sojourn with the Revue.

Hmm, next question - how would Mizu and Richard stack up against, say, Antonio Banderas, as well as the original portrayer of Zorro, the great Douglas Fairbanks?


Ligaya said...

ACTION GIRL Lolita Pulido?! I'm totally there! d8Db ♥

Ah, Takarazuka, you always give me more reasons to love you... ♥

...Of course, part of this is also because Richard Gutierrez = automatic fail. Boy cannot act for shit, sorry.

PJ Punla said...

@ Ligaya

snoop around in the niconico clips for Zorro for epic proof that Tonami picks up a blade and hands out righteous ass-kickings. :)

and yeah, this is why we're not fans of Richard Gutierrez.....