The Spanish TV show Aguila Rosa has been an absolutely gargantuan hit all across the Spanish speaking world, entrancing audiences with its 17th century tales of derring-do. Indeed it’s been so successful that it spawned this feature length spin-off.
While the movie has several interweaving plots, it swirls around Gonzalo de Montalvo, who is secretly the hero ‘Red Eagle’. When his son is blinded after an assassination attempt, Red Eagle sets out for revenge against the corrupt Cardinal Mendoza. Soon Gonzalo is mixed up in the political machinations at the top of Spanish society, as the evil Mendoza is in league with England, Portugal and France to overthrow the Spanish king and destroy the country.
It’s not the most sophisticated of films, and has a style of storytelling that feels a bit old-fashioned and slightly 1980s, but it works and provides great entertainment. All the women look like they’ve just stepped out of a Vidal Sassoon salon, the villains are suitably moustache-twirling and the peasants typically jolly and gormless. However it’s Red Eagle himself who’s most fun. He has the worst haircut in history when he’s being himself and looks like ninja Zorro when he’s in hero mode – and to be honest acts like it too.
As with many of this sort of swashbuckling adventure you do wonder why the bad guys don’t just find one person who can aim a gun, as it wouldn’t be very hard to take Red Eagle out. Luckily for him, nobody can shoot straight in the 17th Century, allowing him to battle the baddies with his clever array of weapons/gadgets.
It’s a film with a lot of charm, as long as you don’t mind its slightly hokey, old-fashioned storytelling. That’s particularly true of the ending, which is almost breathtaking in its emotionally manipulative cheesiness. It is undoubtedly fun though, and while a lot glossier and more soap opera-ish than we’re used to from period drama, it’s very effective.
Overall Verdict: Silly and somewhat old-fashioned, but this glossy Spanish offering successfully swashes its buckles with a ninja Zorro.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac