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Location: Prague, Bohemia
Member Since: Tue Apr 06, 2010
Posts: 1,551
Subj: Peplum review #20: the 10 Gladiators
Posted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 at 12:33:37 pm EDT (Viewed 99 times)

This is the series that contradicts my "7" gladiators theory. It is actually a series of three films, staring the charismatic bodybuilder Dan Vadis, who was so memorable in Colossus of the Arena. In these Dan is clean-shaven but still impressively muscular and agile. Its easy to see why he was chosen as a leading man. While not superhuman, Vadis is more likely to fight off sword-weilding foes with his fists, always with a firm belly-laugh. in fact, you could make a drinking game out of the belly laughs in these films.

the 10 Gladiators (1963)
Vadis plays Roccio, the leader of a troop of travelling gladiators, who seem more like a circus than slaves. Roccio comes across a gang of masked men who dress like nobles, they are senators opposed to the despot Nero. The emperor's pratorians accuse Roccio and his troop of being the masked men.
While each of the gladiators has a bit of personality, its really too difficult to remember who is who. 10 is a bit much.

Triumph of the 10 Gladiators (1964)
they probably hadn't intended this as a trilogy, as they killed off Roccio at the end of the previous film. But he is back, leading the 10 gladiators, no mention of his death in the last one.
Following the formula, this one sees the troop travelling to Syria where they are hired by a mysterious man to kidnap the Queen Melyua and hold her as a hostage for Rome, a strange role for the heroic gladiators.
Helga Line as the Queen looks really good in this one. There is quite a dramatic scene where, after the Queen betrays the gladiators in the arena, the upset gladiators throw ten spears at her creating a prison of spears.

Spartacus and the 10 Gladiators (1964)
The last film in the triology throws history out the window as Spartacus shows up, 100 years after his death. (It's interesting how Spartacus became a legendary character in Peplums along the lines of Hercules, Samson and Maciste, despite Spartacus being an actual historical figure)
It tries to dance a fine line between a serious historical peplum and a muscleman comedy with limited success.

Overall, not the best or worst. Its interesting that they tried to create their own character, Roccio, with Vadis, rather than making him another "Hercules".

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