17 October 2000 | dinky-4
A "Demi-God" in the Sword-and-Sandal Pantheon
Competent direction, a well-constructed script, and an above-average cast elevates this "Sword-and-Sandal" production into something close to Grade-A status. In fact, when first viewed on a large theater screen while its colors were still sharp and clear, it must have been a rather impressive piece of work.
Unlike the recent "Gladiator," this movie occasionally drifts into Sunday School posturing about the rise of Christianity, but also unlike that Ridley Scott effort, it knows the value of "beefcake" and "bondage." The arena scenes here feature a number of muscular, bare-chested gladiators and leading-man Lang Jeffries often gets to show off his physique either while fighting duels or while chained to dungeon walls.
That fine actor, Philippe Leroy, adds substance to the role of the villainous Roman, Rossana Podesta makes for a suitable if somewhat subdued heroine, and Gabriele Tinti offers good support as Lang Jeffries' loyal friend.
Early in the movie Jeffries is tied to a column at the edge of the town square and given a flogging. While this flogging can't compare to the one he received in the earlier "Revolt of the Slaves," it does provide an interesting touch. The Roman in charge of the proceedings announces that the punishment will continue until the townspeople fill with gold a Roman shield which has been tossed, concave-side-up, on the ground. As Lang suffers lash after lash, various townspeople come forward, removing their gold jewelry to toss into the shield.
The movie ends with that traditional scene of the hero triumphing so spectacularly in the arena that the crowd demands he be spared. (In these movies, the hero never seems to succeed by intellectual or moral superiority by rather by sheer physical prowess.)