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The Phantom - 1996

The film opens with a recap "For Those Who Came In Late," narrated by the Phantom's deceased father (Patrick McGoohan), who appears to his son throughout the film (whether he is a ghost, or simply a figure of the Phantom's memory, is left ambiguous): Four hundred years ago, a young boy sees his father killed by the Evil Kabai Sengh during an attack on their ship by the ruthless Sengh Brotherhood.


He is washed ashore on an island called Bengalla and found on the beach by tribesman who take him to their village. There he is given the Skull Ring and swears to devote his life to the destruction of piracy, greed, cruelty, and injustice. In adulthood, he adopts the identity of "The Phantom", a masked avenger. The role of The Phantom is passed on from father to son through centuries, leading people to believe in a single, immortal figure and accordingly to nickname him "The Ghost Who Walks" and "The Man Who Never Dies."


In 1938, Kit Walker (Billy Zane), the 21st Phantom, finds a mercenary named Quill (James Remar) searching for one of the 'Skulls of Touganda', possession of which grants the owner a tremendous destructive power. The Phantom saves the native boy they had kidnapped as their guide and captures Quill's men, turning them over to the Jungle Patrol. However, Quill -- revealed as a member of the Sengh Brotherhood, and the man who killed Kit's father -- manages to escape with the Skull and returns to the United States of America.


In New York City, Kit's ex-girlfriend from college, Diana Palmer (Kristy Swanson), is sent by her Uncle Dave (Bill Smitrovich), the owner of "The Tribune" newspaper, to Bengalla in order to investigate claims that power-hungry New York businessman, Xander Drax (Treat Williams), Quill's boss, is resorting to piracy. En route, the Pan Am Clipper Diana travels on is forced down over the ocean by female "air-pirates" employed by Drax and led by the femme fatale, Sala (Catherine Zeta-Jones).


Diana is kidnapped and taken to the pirates base in Bengalla. The Phantom, told of Diana's kidnapping by the Jungle Patrol's Capt. Phillip Horton (Robert Coleby), rescues Diana and escapes from Quill and his men to his headquarters, the Skull Cave (with the help of his white horse Hero, his pet wolf Devil, and his jungle friends the Rope People). There, Diana meets with Capt. Horton where she is informed by The Phantom and Horton that she is mixed up with the Sengh Brotherhood.


The Phantom tells Horton to use the Jungle Patrol to take care of Diana and return her to New York while he goes after the Brotherhood. Diana starts to argue about being sent home, but The Phantom disappears deep into the Skull Cave, with Capt. Horton telling Diana that "No one argues with The Phantom and wins." The Phantom then travels to New York as Kit Walker to meet with Dave Palmer, and where he's reunited with Diana.


With the help of information given to them by Diana's would-be suitor Jimmy Wells, they locate the second Skull in the Museum of Natural History. They're captured by Drax and his men, who steal the second Skull and unite it with the first, revealing the location of the third Skull on an uncharted island known as the Devil's Vortex on the Yellow Sea.


Kit manages to escape from Quill and his henchmen and, as The Phantom, evades the police (Drax was allies in crime with New York's corrupt police commissioner, as well as the mayor). Meanwhile, Sala flies Drax, Quill, and the kidnapped Diana (Drax's "Phantom insurance" after it's revealed she is his girlfriend) to the Devil's Vortex, not knowing that The Phantom has managed to hitch a ride on one of the plane's landing pontoons.


On the island, Drax meets with the pirate Kabai Sengh (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), a descendant of the Brotherhood's original leader (the Evil Kabai Sengh), who possesses the third Skull. Sengh warns Drax of the existence of a "Fourth Skull," which controls the power of the others. The Phantom appears and battles both men, with Kabai Sengh killed by his own pool of sharks, as Diana and Sala cooperate to defeat the other villains.


Drax unites the three Skulls and turns them against the Phantom (inadvertently killing Quill in the process), only to be destroyed when the Phantom uses the Fourth Skull -- his own ring -- to overcome the others. As the island is consumed in flames, The Phantom narrowly escapes with Diana and Sala.


In parting from Diana thereafter, The Phantom reveals his secret and his double-identity to her, telling her that he's only allowed to reveal all of his secrets to one person, the woman he intends to marry, but she leaves again for New York. In the film's closing narration, Kit's father laments his son's failure to pursue Diana, but reassures the audience that she will return to The Phantom's jungle, and to Kit, one day.




Resources: imdb.com, Wikipedia.org




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