On a day in August 1947, in the town of Linares in southern Spain, a great bullfighting spectacle is about to take place. In the red corner: the bulls from the famous ganaderia of Don Eduardo Miura. Facing up t0 them in the blue corner, their bloodthirsty matador adversaries: Manuel Laureano Rodriguez Sandez, known as MANOLETE; Luis Miguel DOMINGUIN; and GITANILLO de Triana (Rafael Vega).
Manolete and Dominguin are two of the most celebrated matadors of their age. Manolete is 30 years old, but with a sad countenance that makes him looks ten years older. Dominguin is 21, and is at the height of his glittering career. Gitanillo is less celebrated, though he has a growing list of bulls' deaths on his conscience.
The first paso is scheduled for 5 p.m. Dressed for the kill, our three heroic matadors salute the 10,500 spectators baying for blood. The bulls, meanwhile, the true stars of the 'spectacle', knowing they are about to die, send farewell tweets to their followers on Twitter, and then smoke a final cigarette. But it is Islero the Bull who is particularly miffed, as he only present at the specific request of Manolete. Already Islero is plotting his revenge.
The contest begins. Gitanillo is the first to draw blood, killing his bull in just 15 minutes. Olé! Manolete is next to enter the arena, and in two passes sends a second victim to the Great Bull Graveyard in the Sky. Then the young Dominguin makes it 3 to the Matadors, Zero to the Bulls. Olé! And then the star of the corrida makes his entrance: ISLERO, 500 kilos of angry beast! A fearful adversary, the more so as his blood is boiling at the massacre of his innocent comrades. His threatening horns want just one thing: REVENGE!
Facing Islero is Manolete. The two adversaries size each other up. Islero brushes against Manolete, makes him shiver. Manolete realises that he is up against a fearsome foe. Time to call in the picadors to soften him up.
The picadors on their horses stab Islero's neck with their lances. Islero feigns fatigue, and the picadors, thinking their job is done, leave the arena. Now the real contest can begin.
The adversaries continue to spar with one another. Islero makes several charges, testing Manolete's defences. To please the spectators, Manolete takes great risks, indulges in his speciality, the manoletina, in which he holds his muleta in his left hand behind his back. Then, suddenly, Islero lowers his head and charges at Manolete. But Manolete is on his toes and responds by pushing his sword into Islero's neck.
'Is that your best shot?' says Islero, tauntingly, in imitation of Bruce Willis in Die Hard 4.0, his favourite movie. Then Islero raises his body, stamps his hooves in an Ali shuffle, and then charges once more at Manolete and this time plunges his horns into his enemy's groin.
The crowd rise to their feet in stunned silence as their hero flies through the air, then falls to the ground, blood streaming from the wound. Bulls around the world, watching the spectacle of satellite TV, let out a collective and spontaneous 'Olé!' But Islero, too, is greviously wounded. Standing above Manolete, about to give up the ghost, he utters his last defiant words: 'Don't you ever fuck with me and the brothers ever again!' But the crowd's only concern is for Manolete. Talk about sore losers!
Manolete is rushed to the infirmary. He is given a blood transfusion - but it is the wrong blood group! Doctors arrive from Madrid, but can do nothing to save him. He dies at 5 a.m. the following morning. His last words are: 'My mother is not going to like this.'