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Challenge of the Gladiator (1965)

Il gladiatore che sfidò l'impero (original title)
Treacherous Roman senator Lucius Quintilius plans a secret journey into Thrace to recover a legendary treasure. He is accompanied by his daughter Livia posing as a Christian slave girl, his... See full summary »



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Cast overview:
Spartacus (as Rock Stevens)
Massimo Serato ...
Senator Lucio Quintilio
Livio Lorenzon ...
Gloria Milland ...
Piero Lulli ...
Consul Metello
Andrea Checchi
Dario Michaelis
Franco Ressel
Bruno Scipioni
Giulio Tomei
Giovanni Petrucci


Treacherous Roman senator Lucius Quintilius plans a secret journey into Thrace to recover a legendary treasure. He is accompanied by his daughter Livia posing as a Christian slave girl, his cruel henchman Commodio, and Terenzius, an ex-gladiator and Nero look-alike who fools the local Thracians into believing he is the real Emperor. But Lucius's plans are thwarted by Spartacus and his band of rebels who succeed in capturing the treasure for Thrace. When news arrives from Rome that the real Nero has died, local Roman governor Consul Metellus joins forces with Spartacus to defeat the traitors. Written by Jim Marshall

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

4 April 1965 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Challenge of the Gladiator  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Peter Lupus shaved his chest for this movie, giving his torso the smooth, oily, suntanned look popularized by Steve Reeves in his "Hercules" roles. (Lupus's naturally-hairy chest can be seen on display in his centerfold photos in the August 1974 issue of 'Playgirl' magazine.) See more »


Commodio: If you don't recapture Spartacus, I swear I'll have every one of you skinned alive!
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User Reviews

good script hampered by OK performances and stock footage
1 June 2015 | by (French Polynesia) – See all my reviews

I found the fake Nero plot to be interesting and pretty well worked out. This is "one of these" films which is more about history, which it takes pretty seriously--even if it's alternate history, but it seems to feel obliged to fit into the genre, so you have always shirtless Spartacus--it's impossible to see how this Spartacus could have anything to do with the one we know from history and other films--frequently tearing doors off of hinges or performing non plot related acts of muscle man strength. The love interest aspect (often weak and perhaps part of this genre of films gay following) is weak here and leads to a kind of preposterous Christian sub plot that is barely mentioned but figures into the movie towards the end. In this case the girl is a weak actress who is pretty but not very sexy and our lead muscle man has no chemistry with her.

Lupus, our hero, looks shiny and has impressive man boobs, but he seems to just stand around with the same expression and aside from his chest doesn't seem all that perfect and physical specimen. Supporting cast of various conspiring or heroic Roman's come off best in the acting department.

Widescreen composition and directing are OK at, there is one interesting scene using a statue of a woman and our real female lead in contrast to each other that is interestingly staged.

Also there are pretty obvious "big" shots of lots of extras and fighting taken from some other film. When you have the big battle at the end this is especially obvious and distracting. Also very weak is the final fight between our hero and the fake Nero. The two actors are certainly up for it but it's badly staged with an especially poor ending.

So there you go, if you can forgive the weakness of the execution of the last 30 minutes it's an above average historical (rather than mythically) based Peplum. I'd enjoyed most of it, but when the ending is weak it sours you on the whole thing.

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