El tesoro de Moctezuma [The Treasure of Montezuma]

(Estudios América-Cima Films, 1966) Exec Prod: Mauricio Walerstein, Lic. J. Fernando Pérez Gavilán; Dir: René Cardona Sr., René Cardona Jr.; Scr: Rafael García Travesí , Mauricio Wall; Photo: Raúl Domínguez, Fernando Colín; Music: Enrico Cabiati; Prod Mgr: Antonio Rodríguez, Jacobo Derechín ; Asst Dir: Tito Novaro, Fernando Durán; Film Ed: José J. Munguía ; Art Dir: Arcadi Artis Gener; Underwater Photo: Geraro Hurtado; Spec FX: Javier Sierra; Sound Op: Ricardo Saldivar; Re-rec: Heinrich Henkel; Union: STIC

CAST: Santo (himself), Jorge Rivero (Jorge Rubio), Manuel Capetillo (himself), Amedée Chabot (Estela Ruiz aka Flor de Loto), Maura Monti (female spy), Noé Murayama (Suki), José Luis Carol (billed but does not appear), Miguel Gómez Checa (leader of criminal organization), Alfonso Torres [aka Juan Miranda] (henchman), Antonio Raxel (Interpol chief), Vicente Lara "Indio Cacama" (bearded henchman); Ray Mendoza, Henry Pilusso (?wrestlers)

Mexico City release: July 1968; 5 week run; Authorization: A

Spanish release data: authorization date: 24 July 1974; total spectators: 51,417

NOTES: While still a reasonably slick and entertaining film, El tesoro de Moctezuma is not as good as its predecessor, Operación 67. The script is far less accomplished, meandering around without a particular focus (and even the basic premise--an international criminal gang wants to locate and then steal the hidden treasure of Aztec emperor Moctezuma--is less compelling than the organization's plan in the first picture, to bankrupt various Latin American countries). The scene with bullfighter-actor Manuel Capetillo is a good example: it's just an excuse to show Capetillo in the bullring, and to provide a slightly different locale for yet another attempt on the life of one of the film's protagonists. There are also some minor technical flaws which weren't in the first film (or weren't as noticeable): a clumsy (but brief) split-screen when one actress has to play "twins," obvious dummies used for falling bodies, and so on.

On the other hand, the production values are still quite substantial--a real warship (not stock footage), complete with anti-aircraft guns, features prominently in one sequence, and the sets and real locations (such as the museum in an early sequence) are utilized effectively. Tesoro also goes Operación one better by featuring two beautiful female agents, one evil and one good. The interaction between Santo and Jorge Rivero is more extensive in the sequel as well, and Santo himself seems more prominent.

The Hong Kong-based international criminal organization from Operación 67 is still in business, but they have a new plan: through research done by a renegade archeologist, the secret location of Emperor Moctezuma's hidden treasure has been uncovered. However, the map is on the base of a small stone carving of the "plumed coyote," located in a Mexico City museum; furthermore, the key to deciphering the map is on microfilm that was secreted in Ruth Taylor's emerald ring, which she gave to Jorge Rubio before she died, at the end of the first film.

Interpol has gotten wind of this scheme, and Santo is alerted. An agent code-named "Flor de Loto" (Lotus Flower) will contact him. As they prepare to participate in a wrestling match, Santo informs his partner Jorge of this. "Is she beautiful?" Jorge asks. "I don't know," Santo replies brusquely. "Remember that your amorous adventures have caused us dangers and difficulties." "If love doesn't cause dangers and difficulties, what fun is it?" Jorge asks. As they leave the dressing room, Jorge is distracted by an attractive brunette, and has to be dragged away by Santo.

Jorge and Santo enter the ring, and Jorge once again spots the brunette, now sucking on her finger and winking at Jorge! "Get serious," Santo says, "the match is about to begin." Mid-way thru the match [Jorge Rivero does a fair amount of his own wrestling this time, although he seems to have been doubled in some long shots], the young woman gets up and leaves. She goes to Jorge's apartment and conducts an intensive search for the ring. Santo and Jorge win, of course.

Meanwhile, members of the organization are stealing the figure of the "plumed coyote" from a museum, using a gas which "freezes" the security guards in place. [At one point, the film intercuts between three separate sequences--the wrestling match, Maura Monti searching Jorge's apartment, and the robbery] During their getaway, the crooks run over two motorcycle cops who try to stop them for speeding.

Jorge comes home to find the brunette sitting on his bed. She offers to buy the ring from him, but he's interested in something else. [It should be noted that Maura Monti looks exceptionally sexy in her scenes, wearing a tight dress with minimal undergarments] As they clinch, Jorge is struck from behind by two members of the gang who have quietly entered. They find the ring on a chain around Jorge's neck, and are preparing to kill him when Santo bursts in (he had called Jorge but when no one answered, he decided to investigate). Jorge awakes and tackles the brunette (they have a nice little fight before he finally slugs her), leaving Santo to handle the two henchmen. The three spies are finally subdued, but before the police can arrive, the brunette detaches one of her earrings and tosses it across the room: it explodes, causing a bright flash and thick smoke, through which they make their escape.

Santo gets a phone call from "Flor de Loto," asking him to meet her at the Aztec pyramids the next morning. He pulls up in his silver Jaguar, and spots a tiny figure on top of one of the massive stone monuments. However, after he climbs the steps to the top, he sees it is just a dummy--but a dummy loaded with explosives, and he narrowly escapes death when it blows up. Then the two thugs from Jorge's apartment reappear. After a battle, one spy falls off the pyramid and the other, frightened, says "I'll talk, Santo!" However, his accomplices drive by the pyramid in their car, and fill him full of lead. [The fight on the pyramid is nicely handled: there are lots of distorted closeups of Juan Miranda's face as he pummels Santo, and all three combatants take turns rolling into a mud puddle, leaving them dirty and wet. Miranda's "fall" isn't handled as well as it could have been, since there is only a quick cut between his face as he slips and his "impact," giving the impression that he only fell five feet instead of fifty.]

Interpol scientist Cardona (who also appeared in the first film, but wasn't given a name--and in fact, he's only called "Cardona" once here) gives Santo and Jorge miniature TV transmitters that they wear on their lapels. He explains that the camera not only shows what is in front of it, it also shows the person wearing the camera! "I'll explain how it works, later," he promises. Santo, as the senior member of the duo, also gets a miniature bomb to wear around his neck on a string (gee, thanks).

A dapper Asian gentleman named Li Chan shows up with a briefcase full of money and offers to buy the emerald ring. Jorge agrees, and hands over a box, which proves to contain one of those springy "snakes" that pops out when the box is opened. The furious Li Chan says "You will hear from us soon." [If you have never heard someone speak Spanish with a Chinese accent, this is your chance.]

Jorge leaves and bumps into a beautiful blonde named Estela. He says "You're under arrest: you're a highly dangerous woman, because of your beauty." They make a date for dinner, and clinch. Santo has been observing all of this via Jorge's TV camera, a bemused look on his face. That night, Estela and Jorge swim in Jorge's pool and kiss underwater. Santo is still watching on TV. The next day, Jorge shows up whistling "Solamente una vez," enthusiastic about his new romance. "I saw it all on TV," Santo informs him. "All?" Jorge asks. "Up to the underwater scene. Then I turned it off," Santo replies. Jorge starts to work out, doing curls with a large barbell. "With so much weight, you'll wind up competing for Mr. Universe," Santo remarks. "But to be a wrestling champion you need different exercises." Unfortunately for wrestling fans, Santo doesn't explain what these would be, and the scene ends.

Jorge and Estela visit bullfighter Manuel Capetillo, who is getting ready for a corrida de toros. He dedicates the bull to Estela. However, Jorge spots two sinister types in the stands (one is openly affixing a silencer to his pistol, a hint that perhaps he isn't there just to watch the bullfight). After a chase through the bowels of the plaza de toros, Jorge is cornered on a catwalk over a pen in which a surly bull is waiting. The thugs prepare to toss him in, but Santo shows up and it is one of the spies (well actually, a dummy) that falls in and is gored and trampled.

At the wrestling arena that night, Santo is pitted against a fat guy with a crew cut called "Oso" (Bear). One of the spectators keeps yelling "I want to see blood!" and an old lady cheers for Santo. Meanwhile two beautiful twins come in; one makes eyes at Jorge and the other watches Santo wrestle. After the match, Santo--in a good sequence--is nearly run down by car after car in the parking garage (they also shoot at him, just for variety). He ducks down a hallway and grabs one of his pursuers-- but it's one of the twins! Jorge and the other twin are back at his apartment, watching Santo and her sister. This is an amusing sequence and the actress playing the twins is very attractive, but they're never seen again.

Meanwhile, Dr. Cardona has been examining Jorge's ring. He locates the microfilm but is strangled by intruders. With this information in their hands, the organization manages to locate the entrance to Moctezuma's treasure vault. Using heavy equipment, the vault is opened, and the gang discovers a hoard of gold, jewels, and other valuable objects. Suki (this was his name in the first film; he's obviously the same character, but isn't referred to by name here) says they will take as much as they can, load it on a ship that is waiting off the coast, and sail to San Francisco to make the final split.

Santo and Jorge find Cardona's body. He had left them a message on a tape recorder, where he alludes to the location of the treasure, the ship, and San Francisco (how he knew all of this before he died isn't explained). They go to the treasure site and find only remnants of the Aztec riches. Since Acapulco is the nearest port where a ship would leave for San Francisco, they fly there.

In the harbor is a small warship, with Suki and his henchmen on board. Santo and Jorge buzz the ship in their light plane, but are shot down by anti-aircraft fire. Parachuting into the ocean, the duo is attacked by gang members in a speedboat. Santo uses his necklace-bomb to blow it up, but now sharks start to appear! In the nick of time, Estela shows up in a cabin cruiser. She is agent Flor de Loto. But they can't make another attempt on the warship, since it might sink and then Moctezuma's treasure would be lost. Instead, they'll have to go to San Francisco and confront the gang there.

They go to the gang's headquarters in San Francisco's Chinatown. The leader of the organization has just arrived from Hong Kong, and he is admiring the loot when Santo, Jorge and Estela burst in, shooting. Estela is shot and wounded (Santo kills her opponent); Jorge shoots and kills the leader, and then more Interpol agents arrive to mop up. Estela, mortally wounded, says "Did you love me a little, Jorge?" before she dies. Jorge, who for the second film in a row has had a woman die in his arms, leaves glumly with Santo. The end.

Overall, El tesoro de Moctezuma is an entertaining film with some attractive players, good production values, several particularly good sequences, and a better balance--as well as a more relaxed relationship--between Santo and Jorge Rivero than Operación 67 had. Unfortunately, it is also episodic and much less focused and linear than its predecessor. But the Operación 67/El tesoro de Moctezuma duo certainly represents one of the high spots in Santo's film career.

Review posted 4 March 1998 by dw45@umail.umd.edu

Updated 19 January 2000.

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