Set in the 450s, this is a tale of the late empire, as it was being invaded by the Germanic Vandals, under their chieftain, Genseric opposite the Roman Emperor Valentian. By this point, emperors, influenced by Christianity, had long begun banning gladiatoral combats.
The gladiators of the title, known as the Invincibles, are a mix of Gladiator types: Secator (sword and shield), Retarius (net and trident), and even a Cestus (boxer with spiked gloves).
But as always, it features the mix and match of equipment (which was apparent even in the 2000 film Gladiator). There were very specfic rules about which arms each gladiator wore and which types they would face. Seeing a Secator with a round shield and no helmet is just wrong. It would be like watching a baseball game where the players wear a football helmet and carry and ice hockey stick.
Mickey Hariday is the muscled protagonist and the always beautiful Jose Greci as Pricilla, the emperor's daughter. Fabius, son of a famous general, joins up with the 6 Invincibles (to get us to the required 7) against corrupt pratorians.
It gives us plenty of combats, in the arena and out, a standard love story, with Pricilla offered to Genseric's son, but she prefers Fabius, and political intrigue. Nothing groundbreaking or original but it ticks all the peplum boxes to be fun enough.
yeah, I'm kind of a gladiator purist but I don't really mind that they mix up the equipment. Its more of a hollywood thing so we can see the actors faces, the same way every knight goes into combat without a helmet (which would be worse than seeing an American footballer playing without a helmet) or the way Spider-man's mask gets torn off in every movie fight.
Interestingly, the old Italian Peplums were generally a lot more consistantly accurate with gladiator types than Ridley Scott's Gladiator, which was a mishmash of everything (axes from the middle ages, helmets from the renassaiance, etc.) Of course I can still enjoy it.
Yeah, the time period for "pure" peplums stretches from before the founding of Rome 753BC to the fall of the empire in the 500sAD or so, giving the writers nearly 1000 years of events to play with.