Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Hero of Rome/Invincible Gladiator|
Actors: Richard Harrison, Luisella Boni, Livio Lorenzon, Leo Anchóriz, José Marco
Directors: Alberto De Martino, Antonio Momplet, Giorgio Ferroni
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama
He-Man Action, Italian Style! Muscle star Gordon Scott (Goliath and the Vampires) stars in the epic Hero of Rome, a tale of action and dishonor. When Scott attempts to slay the leader of an opposing army, his failure promp... more »
Typical flex action
Brad Alan Deamer | 09/16/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"As the Romans would say, Caveat emptor! Each of these two films is preceded by an on-screen apology: in order to present as complete a version as possible of each film, the producers of this DVD drew upon more than one source, so the quality is inconsistent. This print of Hero of Rome (a French-Italian co-production)is quite decent, on the whole. There are a few seconds of footage in which the film stock shows actual damage (black and white spots appear in parts of the image). In a few scenes, the color seems a bit washed out: for example, a character wears a pale bluish-green cloak that one suspects was originally a much more intense shade of blue. This print of The Invincible Gladiator (a Spanish-Italian co-production) has more serious technical problems. The film starts and ends well, with good color, but in the middle there are several sequences in which the color becomes unstable, goes pale, and fluctuates wildly. The overall effect of these scenes resembles those silent films in which some of the frames were hand-tinted in monochrome. The actors' faces suddenly flush bright pink, then turn a jaundiced yellow, then turn pink again, all within a few seconds. The soundtrack of this film is also of substandard quality: some of the lines of dialogue are hard to catch. (I had trouble discerning the characters' names, the first time around.)
If you can look past these flaws, there is plenty of entertainment value here. Hero of Rome is a lavish production, with a good script based on Livy's history of Rome. Mucius, a Roman soldier who is virtually a one-man army, goes on a suicide mission to assassinate the Etruscan king Porsena, who is besieging Rome. Mucius kills the wrong man, and to demonstrate to his captors the bravery of the Romans, he holds his right hand in a fire. Porsena, who isn't such a bad guy after all, is impressed and lets Mucius go. Porsena's treacherous ally, Tarquin, demands that ten Roman virgins be delivered as hostages during a truce. One of the girls is Clelia, Mucius' fiancee, whom--of course--Tarquin desires. When the girls discover that Tarquin is plotting against the Romans, they escape by swimming down the Tiber with the help of a floating log. Further plot complications ensue. Mucius teaches himself to use a sword with his left hand, thus earning the nickname Scaevola ("the left-handed"), and devises a wicked-looking piece of custom-made armor to protect his maimed right hand and forearm. There is a climactic battle, during which Mucius and Tarquin agree to settle the matter by one-on-one combat. (No prize for guessing who wins.)
Gordon Scott, sporting dark hair and beard, looks very macho (and convincingly Roman) as Mucius. Incredibly, he keeps his pecs covered throughout the entire film. That's right--a sword-and-sandal flick with a bodybuilder hero who does not strip to the waist even once! His fellow actors are also good.
The Invincible Gladiator has a rather confused plot. The story is set in a fictional kingdom in the eastern part of the Roman Empire; there is a evil Regent, who plots to kill the boy king and--of course--force the king's sister to marry him. Richard Harrison plays a Horace-quoting gladiator (who was a king's son before he was enslaved) who at first serves the Regent, but changes sides and joins the rebels when he realizes that the Regent is in fact The Bad Guy. Along the way, the gladiator and the princess fall in love. Predictably, they ultimately prevail. There is plenty of action along the way, much of it surprisingly violent, including an episode in which another gladiator is attacked by a swarm of nasty pygmies. Compared to Hero of Rome, this is a low-budget production. The arena in which the gladitorial combats take place is small: most of the spectators are so close to the action that they would seem to be in danger of receiving stray blows.
Richard Harrison is a handsome man with a nicely buffed physique (leaner than that of your typical pumped-up professional bodybuilder). He looks great in his gladitorial gear. And he really can act. (When he glowers at somebody, one feels sorry for the object of his wrath.) Harrison carries the film, although the actor who plays the sneering Regent is effective enough. (The leading lady is pretty, but a bit wan; one feels that Harrison's energetic character deserves a less passive love interest.)
Devotees of the genre--and fans of Scott and Harrison--need not hesitate to acquire this release"