Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

Currently Showing at Cinema Steve

Saturday, August 21, 2010

'Hercules' saves Western Civilization!

Hercules Against the Mongols (aka "Maciste Against the Mongols") (1964)
Starring: Mark Forest, Ken Clark, Howard Ross, Nadir Moretti, Jose Greci, and Maria Gracia Spina
Director: Domenico Paolella
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

Following the death of their father, Genghis Khan, the evil Sayan (Clark), Susdal (Ross), and Kin Khan (Moretti) violate the peace treaties he had brokered with the Western Christians and return the Mongol hordes to the of conquest. Standing in their way, however, is the wandering hero Maciste. Witness what happens when the unstoppable force meets an unmovable object.

"Hercules Against the Mongols" is another one of those Hercules movies that isn't really about Hercules. The first hint is that it takes place in 13th century eastern Europe, and the second hint is that there's no reference to Greece and Greek gods at all. The film is actually one of the many movies about the Italian hero Maciste, but, for whatever reason, any of these Italian sword-and-sorcery flicks from the 1960s had to be about Hercules when they were imported into the United States and dubbed into English.

As far as this sort of fare goes, this film comes is about average. The bad guys are intereting--with Ken Clark being particularly fun as a Fu Manchu-mustachioed creep so untrustworthy he'd probably betray himself if he thought he could get away with it--the costumes and sets are pretty good, and the script moves along at a nice pace.

On the downside, the actors who did the English dubbing are universally awful, and I don't think I've ever before seen this many Caucasian actors trying to pass for Asians in a single movie. There's also the character of Maciste/Hercules. He doesn't have one-tenth the charisma of the charisma as villanious opponents, partly because he doesn't do anything particularly interesting for most of the film--he's heroic but unremarkable-- and partly because Mark Forest never rises above the level of a generic stongman.

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