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Domenico Paolello, an Italian director most well known for films in the genre of Hercules (huge classical folk hero versus miscellaneous hordes of evil-doers), directed this fairly typical Hercules film from the mid-1960s. Paolello often worked with American body-builder Rock Stevens during this time, and Stevens was cast as Hercules for this film. Stevens would later sharpen his acting abilities and develop a charismatic and much more memorable character on the popular Mission Impossible TV show (Willie Armitage). At this point in his career, however, Rock was really just another Hercules - albeit one of the most impressively ripped and tall. Like most of the leading men used for this series, he expends little effort acting, and does a lot of flexing, tossing, punching, lifting, etc.
The plot is a bit more complex than the usual beautiful treacherous woman/mysterious powerful empire/classical times Hercules story. Set in the Middle East, the Queen of Helene has been captured by the tyrannous Babylonian council of three. Herc, whose relationship with his queen seems a bit more devoted than the average Greek's, comes to the rescue and quickly becomes a pawn in a vast, confusing, game of thrones. The plot, which is more sophisticated than the average Herc-flick, had some potential, but execution was a bit underwhelming.
Though epic and formulaic, Hercules and the Tyrants of Babylon does not present the standard level of grand action Hercules films typically engender. Stevens' best moments are his few fight scenes - where he can use his remarkable physical presence to the greatest advantage - but these are relatively few and far between. Though the Middle Eastern scenery is adequate, the sets and costumes are not nearly as impressive or detailed as many of the other Herculean adventures. Finally, the film's pace is inconsistent. Just as it threatens to lull you to sleep, a crucial fact is presented or the plot takes a big twist.
Recommended only for Hercules fans.
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