The Magnificent Gladiator- More Peplum!
The Magnificent Gladiator- 1964
Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zmvtm1oVF_0
So, my quest to find and watch Gladiator movies continues. This time, I have come across this opus. I think this movie was filmed around the same time as The Two Gladiators, but I can’t confirm. However, they seem to be interlinked. Here’s why. First the movie uses the same actor as the Emperor in this flick as Pompeii in Two Gladiators. Secondly, the arena looks suspiciously familiar. Third, it uses stock footage from the Two Gladiators to pad out a couple battle scenes and a mob revolt. During some of this padding, they make clever use of the fact that the same actor played roles in both films.
Anyway, let’s talk about this flick. The first and most important question must be asked. Does it have Gladiators? Yes, it does. There are two actual Gladiator scenes. The first involves some Secutors (Sword and shield) battling with Retarius (trident and net). One battle is in pairs, and the other is a Tertarius (where one Gladiator waits in the wings to fight). This fight is never really resolved.
The second big set piece has our hero take on four Gladiators at once, two Retarius and two secutors. Our hero seems to be a Murmillo, but he doesn’t bother with the shield. Guess who wins.
So, now that that question is out of the way, what was the movie about? Hercules is the king of the Dacians, and he is captured by the Romans when they take over. However, the true enemies of both people are the Huns, so Herc decides to be the Emperor’s personal Gladiator if his people are spared. Really, they just wanted a way to tie Hercules into this movie in order to get a bigger audience.
Herc is loved by the people in the Arena, and his fighting prowess brings him to the Emperors attention. He asks Herc to train his army to fight the Huns. Since the Huns killed Hercs dad, he agrees. He also happens to be in lust with the Emperors daughter.
Of course, this doesn’t go over with the scheming villain who covets the Emperor’s daughter for himself. He plans to marry her and take over Rome. Or something. Too bad the actual Emperor and his daughter don’t like him much.
Anyway, stuff happens, and Herc has a loyal band of sidekicks. One of which is an annoying comic relief character who is the bastard child of Adam Sandler and Jerry Lee Lewis. Dang, this guy is painful to hear and watch. Plus, he is a sheep lover…. no joke.
Anyway, the bad guy finds a double of the Emperor and installs him on the throne. Hijinx ensue. Many Praetorins get killed; Herc shows off his muscles, his misfit band does stuff. Peplum cliché of people’s revolt occurs for some reason. The movie winds itself up.
Honestly, I would like to say more about it; but I just can’t. It didn’t hold my interest all that well; and the only time it did was because I wanted to see the horrible comic relief character get killed. This is standard adventure movie stuff, without much historical epicness and only a teaser of Gladiator action. It just felt really rushed and cheap…. even for a Peplum.
Here are some random moments that I liked:
1. The villain throws a spear at Herc, and he catches it from the air, and throws it back.
2. The “fake” Emperor’s parting line, “No one can say I couldn’t finish a role.”
3. The poison switching scene.
4. The villain goes to flee on horseback, but Herc just yanks him off and beats the crap out of him.
5. They purposely dressed the Emperor like Pompeii in Two Gladiators so they could use the stock footage without it being super obvious.
6. “Who knows how much wine your father drank with that cup?” “Ceasar, that’s my wife.”