Sunday, September 03, 2006

XVII. IL TRIONFO DI ERCOLE ( THE TRIUMPH OF HERCULES) 1964



Il Trionfo di Ercole (The Triumph of Hercules)
Year; 1964

Director & Writer; Alberto De Martino
Country; Italy & France
Duration; 94 mins [Italy]
Original Ratio; (2:35:1)
Available; DVD Region 1 Trimark DVD release.
Colour *Fullscreen*English Dub*

Alternative;
Hercules and the Ten Avengers (USA) (TV title) Hercules vs. the Giant Warrior (USA) The Triumph of Hercules (USA) (TV title) Triomphe d'Hercule, Le (France)

The Players; Dan Vadis [Hercules] Marilu Tolo [Princess Ate] Pierre Cressoy [Milo] Pierro Lulli [Gordio] Moira Orfei [Pasiphae, The Sorceress] with: Pietro Capanna / Franco Daddi / Enzo Fiermonte / Nino Marchetti / Aldo Cecconi / Annamaria Mustari / Howard Ross / Gaetano Quatararo / Nazzareno Zamperla / Jacques Stany.



Despite this film emerging from the realms of peplum as the genre was on its way out you could expect a dull, well worn and anaemic rehash of previous adventures that form the plot and overall running time. Fortunately this is a far cry from what the audience is treated to in ‘Il Trionfo de Ercole’.

The director Alberto de Martino returns from his previous outing, Perseus L’invicibile, and brings us much of the same bringing to life an action packed optical supernova of sword, sweat, skulduggery and sorcery.


Hercules this time is played by chisel faced beefcake Dan Vadis. Vadis was more frequent in the Gladiator movies and with his chum Cameron Mitchell was previously part of an all male muscle troupe that used to tour with Mae West. Vadis brings a new ‘fiery’ edge to Hercules unlike his predecessors and as well as brawn, has brains too.

His incarnation is superb and his fighting technique outshines the cumbersome style of other incarnations. Vadis’ is also a lot more ‘fist-happy’ and it is this un-restrain that causes his power loss when he kills his friend in the movie; reminding us of Hercules’ strength also being his weakness.

The film begins in Mycenae where the beloved King Panteone is assassinated by a corrupt Roman soldier called Gordio. Gordio is a human puppet controlled by Milo, a sorceress’s son, who has his eye on the throne.

King Panteone was also a good friend of Hercules and utters the dieing words of ‘Hercules….send...for...Hercules!’, and that is exactly what his faithful comrade achieves…

By killing the King his weak daughter Ate becomes Queen giving Milo a better home run to usurp, with little effort. Ate is an innocent creature and due to this is also extremely gullible and appears to hang on to Milo’s every word.

Milo also possesses a magic dagger that when removed from its’ sheath conjures up a small posse of golden metal men. The gilded leviathans are known as ‘the 100 hands’ due to their quick speed moves and unstoppable brute strength.

Hercules is tricked by Milo into believing his friend is responsible for kidnapping Ate and murdering her father. In a hissy fit Hercules destroys a neighbouring village and kills his friend; killing an innocent man enrages Jove (Zeus/Jupiter) his father, who removes his super strength. Hercules is now a mortal.

He is captured by Milo who introduces a wonderful piece of Machiavellian cruelty to Hercules. To prove he is no impostor Hercules will have to hold up a heavy piece of timber, attached to this is a boulder collecting device. As the stone cascades and thumps into the collector so the weight increases, the heavier the wood becomes the more a spiked iron door is lowered, beneath it – Ate!



Hercules without his special powers nearly kills his beloved and in a gallant act of self-sacrifice, his life over Ate’s innocence, compels his father to return his powers in the nick of time.

This is where further mayhem begins, now Hercules is back in the league of demi-god status, he has to combat the 100 hands alone, take on the sorceress and son, rescue his beloved Ate, who has been kidnapped again, and save the kingdom.

The action does not let up and delightfully flits from one mis-en-scene to another until the, by now, predictable climax.

There really are quite a few outstanding moments in this cash-in which gives it an individual identity. Memorable sequences such as a genuinely awesome bladed wheel chariot/chain fight, the fantasy genius of the 100 handed men and de Martinos cracking pace makes the adventure a bracing slice of pure peplum entertainment.

Another treat from the Trimark ‘Adventures of Hercules’ box-set. Ashamedly full framed and possibly panned and scanned, but despite this annoying ratio cock up the print is scratch and jump free overall, and sports solid colours. Would love to see this in a decent version as I feel the ratio problem reduces some of the impact and athletic creativity, which makes one only witnesses the action choreography, partially.

The movie is currently available on Region 1 DVD only (click on this link).



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