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  • Far from the popular but meretricious so-called "parody" genre, this saga of Spartacus as slave and gladiator is a labor of love from familiar porn stars, including director Marcus London and his wife Devon Lee (both in lead roles) and their essential collaborators Tommy Gunn (seen in the "Making of" documentary literally creating sets, costumes and weapons himself from scratch) and Tony DeSergio. It plays and looks like a real movie, only with organically integrated explicit (and thankfully concise) sex scenes.

    The only quarrel I have is that like many an ambitious project, it is structured as just the first part of a story (hence, "The Beginning" in its title) and four years later no completion feature has been released. Given the economics of Adult Entertainment (with free generic content so available on-line) it is virtually impossible that a major feature sequel will be made.

    London's literate script has the cast declaiming in the language and manner of some BBC project with Derek Jacobi or Jeremy Irons, and he has meticulously cast talented actors, including many Brits, in major roles. Even non-sex roles are peppered with top XXX talent like Ben English as Tanya Tate's husband, a dignitary visiting protagonist Batiatus (Tony DeSergio)'s home in Capua.

    Main story line concerns crafty Batiatus's plans to advance himself, attracting a major gladiator event to his home turf, that sets the stage for the film's exciting climactic battles involving Spartacus, fellow gladiators and the unbeatable Androcles. Though the actor is shown in the "Making of" documentary, for some reason the player in Androcles' role is not credited in the otherwise quite extensive end credits crawl.

    Some of the best scenes involve the beautiful leading actresses. Notably Tate is perfect, with her famous regional Brit accent, examining the private parts of the gladiators, and picking Spartacus to hump her, which London does in a terrifically staged and directed rough sex bout, the way she likes it. Devon Lee in apparently her final XXX starring role is glamorous MILF, redoubtable in her various sex scenes and acting quite well too. Younger talent is highlighted by Gracie Glam and Andy San Dimas, the two most talented actresses of this time frame, while London wisely casts the fabulous, underutilized Jenna Presley as his wife, who is finally reunited with Spartacus for a sexually stimulating and dramatically fulfilling finale, hurt by the trick ending that was designed as a cliffhanger to set up the nonexistent Part 2.

    Male casting also reflects care, with Tommy Gunn and TJ Cummings (as a gladiator headed for tragedy) just the right body-beautiful physical specimens to stand beside London in the arena. Throughout the film the costuming is imaginative and appropriate, with no high heels but instead believable sandals for the ladies.

    Clearly a big budget compared to other porn projects, it is still an economical feature that doesn't waste money or time on gaudy set-pieces, but rather brings a naturalism to both the visuals and the sexual content. The other London-directed films I've seen, shot for Penthouse, Adam & Eve and others, are fairly routine but this one is special.