Director: Mario Caiano
Our epic begins with a gladiator tournament. Maciste of Sparta (pronounced
MA-CHEESE-TAY -- for all you phonetic enthusiasts out there), a renowned warrior, has been pitted in a handicap match against four other combatants.
Before the battle even begins, the outcome is quite obvious, due to Macistes smug
countenance while summing up his opponents. After his victory, the emperor, Caesar
Victavius, throws a banquet in Macistes honor.
At the party, Sevacious, the Captain of Victavius elite Praetorian Guard,
confesses his love to Olympia, the Palace Trollop. At least that's what I presumed her
title to be. She lived in the palace, flirted with the majority of the characters, and
apparently assumed no official duties and/or responsibilities. Yeah, I guess
Palace Trollop will suffice. Anyway, Olympia rejects Sevacious amorous declaration,
and sets her sights on the mighty Maciste (much to Sevacious jealous dismay,
One too many drinks are had, some careless words are spoken, and before they know it,
Maciste and Sevacious are pitted against one another in a grudge match. Sevacious,
realizing that Maciste is twice the warrior than he, makes a stipulation that both
combatants are to be blindfolded. (I, honestly, have no idea how that was supposed
to even the odds, but I digress.) So, they fight well, they dont actually
"fight," per se, they more just wander about, bandanas over their
eyes, swords in hand, feeling around hopelessly for one another until Sevacious,
inadvertently, kills one of his own guards. They then forfeit the match, and their bitter
rivalry, for the time being, goes unresolved.
The next morning, while gallivanting about town in his chariot, Maciste comes across a
woman fleeing across a field, screaming for help, with two Praetorian Guards hot on her
trail. Maciste, being the hero that he is, quickly disposes of the guards, and then
asks what they were chasing her for. Now, for all he knows, she could have been some
deranged murderess, and he just took out two of the good guys BUT, since shes
beautiful, its obvious that she must be the damsel in distress. Another digression, I
So, she introduces herself as Silvia, her plight being that she is a Christian - thus
making her an enemy of the state. She then thanks the big lug, and says she must return to
her people, who are in hiding in the forest. Maciste, a staunch advocate for love at first
sight, says he must meet her again tonight, even! Silvia, not knowing him from Dick
and Jane, tells Maciste the exact location of her hideout, and invites him for dinner that
evening. Hospitable or idiotic, you make the call!
That evening, at Trollop Headquarters, Olympia attempts to
seduce Maciste with the ancient Rome version of "The Forbidden Dance." But
Macistes attention is not on Olympia, and when she questions him about it, he is
quick to admit of his newfound love. Olympia, heartbroken but understanding, lets
him leave for his rendezvous with the Christians without altercation.
The next day, after a successful evening of meeting Silvias folks, a glowing
Maciste returns to the palace only to find that he stands accused of murdering the two
aforementioned Praetorian Guards. Victavius, being a big Maciste fan, gives him the
benefit of a doubt, and a sporting chance to redeem himself - in the arena, naturally.
Maciste, being a quick-witted gladiator, adds the stipulation that if he wins, Silvia will
be free of Roman persecution. Caesar agrees. So, they then pit Maciste against the most
fearsome of competitors a man in an gorilla suit! Oh, I mean a vicious, man-eating
gorilla(suit)! Maciste, with relatively little difficulty, disposes of the poorly costumed
er, I mean gorilla...and finds himself once again in Caesars favor.
Elated from his victory, Maciste returns to the Christian refuge to tell Silvia of his victory, and of her new freedom. But
immediately upon his arrival, Praetorian Guards appear, and begin to arrest all the
Christians. Maciste, dumbfounded, demands an explanation; to which the smug Sevacious
informs him that he did, indeed, win Silvias freedom, but he did not win the
freedom of her family and friends. Silvia, being the noble heroine that she is, says she
will enjoy no freedom without her family, and follows them into captivity.
Maciste then returns to the palace, his poker face in effect, and tells Caesar that he
no longer cares for the Christian girl, and is quite happy now with Olympia. Caesar tells
him thats good, because tomorrow hes going to feed the Christians to the
lions. They then proceed to have a big feast, and after
massive indulgence, the partygoers pass out in the main hall. All, except Maciste, that
is. Quickly, he runs to the dungeon, and with a few mighty yanks on the window bars, the
Christians are freed. Maciste then returns to the party, assumes his position on the
couch, and feigns sleep. A half-second later, guards burst through the door, announcing
the Christians' escape. Maciste, who, seemingly, was asleep at the party, is absolved of
all suspicion, and they launch a full-scale manhunt for the escapees. But even though
Caesar believes in Maciste, Sevacious has his doubts.
Secretly, Maciste then meets with the Christians at their rendezvous point, and shares his plan for their escape to Iberia (which was really
nice, that time of year). But, pardon the anachronism, there is a monkey wrench in the
works, as the Christians cannot leave without their precious Bishop Marcellus, who is
still held prisoner in the dungeon of the arena.
Maciste, who, as I mentioned before, is a mighty hero, returns to save the Bishop
alone, of course. Once down in the bowels of the arena, after single-handedly
disposing of several guards, he runs into a group of captive gladiators, wrongfully
something or other. I forget, sorry. Maciste frees them, and they, in
turn, swear their allegiance to him. They then venture deeper into the dungeons and find
Marcellus, haggard, worn, and begging for a drink of water. They free the good Bishop, and
are immediately attacked by more Praetorian Guards. Being that Maciste has taken out over a few dozen guards by himself,
it doesnt take long for him and his new comrades to dispose of the cavalry, and then
escape into the country.
Reunited with Silvia, Maciste sets his escape plan into motion, and begins the
mobilization of the Christians towards beautiful, sunny Iberia. But once again, there is
trouble. One of the recently freed gladiators, Asfielte, doesnt like Maciste, and
only cares about saving his own hide. Tortilla (at least thats what the name sounded
like to me), the leader of the gladiators, chastises and embarrasses him for his
grievances. Asfielte, burning with anger, leaves the group and returns to Rome. There, he
sells out Maciste, Tortilla, and the Christians to Sevacious, who immediately calls forth
his army for a final showdown between Rome and the Maciste-led Christians - not to mention
the inevitable mano-y-mano between himself and his bitter enemy.
Have you ever had that book that you start, put down for a while, but can never get
yourself to bother picking it up again? Not that the material is necessarily horrible, or anything, but there just isnt
anything that particularly gripping about it? Thats how I felt about this film. I
remember turning it off during the closing credits and thinking, "So what?" I
really didnt feel passionate about it either way, which is odd for me, because
usually my resentment towards most movies runs pretty deep. But this film didnt move
me one way or another.
The acting, for the most part, is passable. The same goes for the story, action,
dialogue, etc. The gorilla, on the other hand, was not passable. And Caesars acting
was fairly atrocious, as well. And someone should really smack the permanent smugness off
Macistes face. That guy was hopelessly in love, alright, but it wasnt with any
So, bottom-line, I could take or leave it.
By the way, the only Hercules mentioned in this film is in the title.
- The flipping guys. During the first party scene,
one of the nights main attractions were a couple fellas who do nothing but flip one
another. Kind of a cheap acrobatic act, if you will. As I said before, those Romans sure
knew how to par-tay.
The gorilla fight, of course. I swear it was wearing shoes....
- The death of Tortilla. During the grand finale battle, the heroic Tortilla is
mortally wounded. But upon his dying breath, he has the strength to muster up one last
shot with his bow, and proceeds to take out the treacherous Asfielte, who was observing
the festivities from a nearby hill. A stirring score in the background adds to the
The most coveted job in ancient Rome -- Torch Boy.
- The Bruce Lee factor. Luckily, whenever Maciste is severely outnumbered, his foes are
nice enough to attack one-at-a-time -- just like in most kung-fu flicks. Heaven forbid
they utilize the advantage of numbers and attack all at once. Heck, they might win,
The joyous frolicking scene!.
- Olympias forbidden dance. From my astute observation, the foundations of the
modern Riverdance might be interpreted from her funky gyrations. That, and perhaps the
world-renowned "Tush Push."
Doesn't appear to be available at Amazon.com.
-- Copyright © 2000 by J. Bannerman