A little while ago, I reviewed Hercules Against The Barbarians, which I didn’t think too highly of. Those who have visited this blog before may have noticed that I had attached an incorrect poster image for that film. How many Hercules films starring Mark Forest, Ken Clark, and José Greci; and directed by Domenico Paolella could there be? How many times could Hercules take on the Mongol hordes? Well, two! In fact this film came before Hercules Against The Barbarians, and thankfully this film is slightly better than it ‘unofficial’ sequel.
In Hercules Against The Barbarians, Ken Clark played one of Genghis Khan’s sons (Kubilai), but this time he plays Sayan. But in both films he had to sport a silly hairpiece and a droopy moustache. And Mark Forest, while still pretty dour, plays Hercules slightly lighter than some of his other performances. As I have mentioned in other reviews, I am not the biggest fan of Forest’s Hercules. At best the Hercules films are the progeny of the swashbuckling films of the thirties and the forties. Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power always had a cheeky smile. Not so Forest. He is workman like in his approach.
Onto the movie: The film opens with Hercules pushing over a tree, to make a bridge for a family to cross a river. As thanks, the mother, who has powers of divination, looks into the future. She sees Hercules fighting a mighty dragon – the dragon being a clumsy metaphor for the Mongolian army.
It’s 1227 and Genghis Khan has died. His dying wish was for peace with the West, but his three sons have other ideas. Each of the sons is a fierce warrior. The sons are: Kin Kahn (Nadir Moretti) who has incredible strength; Sayan (Ken Clark) whose arrows never miss their mark; and Susdal (Howard Ross) who uses a whip with incomparable skill.
So at the behest of the Sons of Khan, the Mongols go to war. The first city they attack is Tudela. The Mongols ride in on their horses waving their spears around. This footage is recycled in the opening to Hercules Against The Barbarians. This footage is intercut with footage of Sayan firing his arrows at the townsfolk. With each kill he laughs maniacally. He is such an evil fellow, and we cannot wait for him to get his comeuppance.
The Mongols kill the king and take control of the city. But there are two heirs to the throne. The first is Bianca of Tudela, played by the beautiful José Greci. Greci also appeared in Hercules Against The Barbarians (as Arminia). She can also be seen in Hercules Vs The Masked Rider, Seven Rebel Gladiators, Sword of the Empire, and Goliath and the Sins of Babylon. For Eurospy fans she also appeared in Espionage in Tangiers and Operazione Poker. She was a very busy girl in the sixties.
The other heir to the throne of Tudela is an adolescent boy, Alexander (who appears to be dubbed by a woman). Alexander has escaped the city with some of the townsfolk and is trying to elude the pursuing Mongol horde.
Naturally Alexander crosses paths with mighty Hercules. Lucky too, because at that moment, the Mongols attack on horseback. Hercules steps into the fray, picks up a giant tree trunk and takes on the soldiers. The soldiers are a pretty stupid bunch. Due to the size of the tree trunk, Hercules doesn’t do much swinging. He more or less, jabs at the soldiers. Despite Hercules immobility, the soldiers continually ride into the trunk and fall off their horses. It’s all rather silly, but it is, after all, a Hercules film.
Hercules Against The Mongols isn’t the worst peplum you’ll see, but it isn’t inspired either. However it is a step up from the dreary Hercules Against The Barbarians, and it always intrigues me to see another chapter in the strange career of Ken Clark: Cowboy, Gentleman Spy, and Mongol.
Then again, didn’t John Wayne play a Barbarian? Well, if it is good enough for the Duke…