Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Seven Magnificent Gladiators

Director: Bruno Mattei
Writer: Claudio Fragasso
Producer: Alexander Hacohen (on screen), Menahem Golan, Yoram Globus (on box)
Cast: Lou Ferrigno, Sybil Danning, Brad Harris, Dan Vadis
Year of release: 1983
Country: Italy
Reviewed from: UK video (Guild, 1985)

The title, I Sette Magnifici Gladiatori, says it all really: this is The Magnificent Seven in Ancient Rome. The marvelously named Dan Vadis is the villainous Nicerote, all cape and codpiece, who holds a village in fear through regular raiding parties with his bandits. The local priestess (Nicerote’s mother) sends village girl Pandora (Carla Ferrigno) to Rome, equipped with a magic sword, to find one suitable to wield it.

That one turns out to be Barbarian slave, former Incredible Hulk and Carla’s hubby, Lou Ferrigno, who defeats Centurion Brad Harris in a chariot race but defies the Emperor’s order to slay his opponent. Lou and Brad gather five compatriots including the glorious Sybil Danning (also in another Magnificent Seven rip-off, Battle Beyond the Stars) whose costumes are worth the price of admission alone.

Once the seven arrive at the village, the film sticks slavishly (as it were!) to its source - which was of course itself an unofficial remake of The Seven Samurai - with Nicerote driven off then returning for a final showdown, resulting in the deaths of four of the seven.

An unashamed attempt by Cannon to recreate 1960s Italian pepla, this generally works and is undemanding fun. Stars Harris (The Fury of Hercules, Goliath Against the Giants) and Vadis (Triumph of Hercules) provide a direct link to the original subgenre, and both still stand up well, though they were 50 and 45 when this film was made (Vadis died a few years later). Director Mattei, though better known for stuff like Zombie Creeping Flesh (also written by Fragasso, whose later works include the dire Troll 2) and SS Experiment Camp, actually started out as an editor on films like Spartacus and the Ten Gladiators (which starred Dan Vadis).

Danning, Ferrigno and Harris worked together on another latter-day peplum for Cannon - Luigi Cozzi’s Hercules, shot the same year. Also watch out for Mandy Rice-Davies, of Profumo scandal notoriety, as the Emperor’s favourite.

With Ferrigno’s torso vying for screen time with Danning’s cleavage, there truly is something here for everybody to enjoy.

MJS rating: B
review originally posted 20th March 2005

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