Gladiators 7 (1962)

Director: Pedro Lazaga
Starring: Richard Harrison, Loredana Nusciak, Livio Lorenzon, Gérard Tichy, Edoardo Toniolo, José Marco, Barta Barri, Franca Badeschi, Enrique Avila
Music: Marcello

I don’t know a whole lot about Richard Harrison (I haven’t seen any of the ‘Master Ninja’ films – however many hundred were made!). I first discovered him when I bought the Retromedia Terminal Force / Ring Around The World Double Feature DVD. Terminal Force is almost unwatchable, but Ring Around the World has quickly become one of my Eurospy favourites.

Gladiators 7 is an earlier role for Harrison, and the film, despite there being ‘Seven’ gladiators is very much in the style and tradition of The Three Musketeers.

Darius (Richard Harrison) is a Spartan Prince who has been captured by the Romans. However the Romans do not know he is a Prince, and have him locked up with all the other Spartan prisoners, who are forced into service as Gladiators. The film opens with five of the Spartan Gladiators climbing the walls and escaping. We later learn that Darius was responsible for their escape and is to be punished. He is lead out into the Coliseum, where the Caesar and the crowd are baying for blood. Eight Gladiators are waiting in the arena to fight Darius, and they begin a relentless attack upon him. Darius fights like a lion (sorry, I had to put that cliché in), and even though he is outnumbered, he slowly cuts down the numbers against him.

Somehow he manages to survive the onslaught, but that does not mean he is allowed to live. Caesar orders the Legionnaires surrounding the arena to kill Darius. The legionnaires surround Darius and throw their lances, but each deliberately miss. The Legionnaires respect Darius’ fighting ability and tenacity, and they request clemency for the brave warrior. The Caesar reluctantly agrees. Darius is freed but must return to Sparta.

Much has happened in Sparta since Darius has been gone. His father has committed suicide and Yarva is now the ruler. Those who have watched a few Peplum will know that Rulers of Ancient Kingdoms do not commit suicide. There is always a treacherous deed that leads to their downfall. And so is the case here. In fact Yarva killed the King, and one of the town’s respected elders, Melong, cover it up, proclaiming that it was suicide.

To complicate matters even further, Yarva wants to marry Melong’s beautiful daughter, Aglaia (Loredana Nusciak). But she is in love with Darius. Hmmm, nice little love triangle.

Darius returns home and finds his whole world turned upside down. He visits his home, and finds his family gone. The old housekeeper hands over his Father’s sword and tells him to seek vengeance. Which he does, with the help of the housekeeper’s son, Livius (Enrique Avila).

It’s not long before the two are in trouble, when they are set upon by Yarva’s men. The duo fight like tigers (sorry) and vanquish there foes, but in the skirmish, Darius drops his sword.

The sword is found by Yarva, who kills Melong with it. As it’s Darius’ sword he gets the blame. And more importantly for Yarva, now Aglaia hates Darius. She believes he murdered her father.

Yarva’s men once again try to capture Darius, but he escapes. He decides he needs a little help. With Livius, he heads into the country to find the five Gladiators he helped free from the Romans. Naturally each of these men is a great warrior and agrees to help Darius regain his rightful position.

Gladiators 7, storywise is familiar territory for those who have watched any vintage swashbucklers, but it handles it all with a great sense of style and fun. This is enjoyable if somewhat predictable entertainment.

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