Biopic of Constantine the Great, set between 293-312 AD, from his days as Tribune to his accession as Roman Emperor of Gaul under the tetrarchy system and ending with his battle against the usurper Roman Emperor Maxentius in Rome.
A demobilized centurion returns home to Pompeii to find his father murdered by a gang of black-hooded Christian robbers that terrorizes the city and he decides to investigate the matter while the nearby volcano threatens to erupt.
Malasyan pirate Sandokan accidentally learns that Lord Brook plots to obtain the crown of Malasya by kidnapping the legitimate rajah and his daughter and forcing them to abdicate so he gathers his best man and launches a rescue operation.
I saw "The Trojan Horse" a few months ago, the version starring Steve Reeves and I enjoyed it. It's one of the best Sword & Sandals. I thought it was more successful than Robert Wise's HELEN OF TROY or the recent bloated version starring Brad Pitt, which is best forgotten. Wise's HELEN OF TROY is a sharply directed film that's hampered by a lack luster script and a freadfully dull ending. After enjoying the Steve Reeves version of the famous Greek story, I was ready to watch the sequel, "The War of the Trojans".
Though another Steve Reeves film like GOLIATH & THE BARBARIANS might be more entertaining to most viewers, the cheese factor keeps it from being a great film. Well this isn't the case with "The War of the Trojans". The cheese factor is very low and the direction is taught and tight. The story is somewhat predictable, certainly for someone who recently watched something like 75 S&S films in a few months but even the familiar storyline wasn't enough to diminish the film's impact.
The story continues right after the excellent "The Trojan Horse", when the fleeing people of Troy arrive in Italy and try to settle there. Problems arise when the King of a nearby Kingdom grants the people of Troy the right to live near the Tiber river. In-fighting within the Kingdom, lead by Turno, who sees the Trojans as a threat, creates a scheme to make the Trojans look evil. A war between the Trojans and the Kingdom erupts. Losing the battle, the Trojans, lead by Aeneas (played by the legendary Steve Reeves), become allies with the Etruscans, the sworn enemies of the Kingdom. The neverending battle causes a lot of deaths and casualties on both sides. Desperate to end the war, both sides agree to settle the war with a duel between Aeneas and Turno.
The beginning is talky but it's worth staying on for what's to come. Here's a short list of memorable scenes: when Aeneas sees the mural which recounts the battle of Troy, with flashbacks from "The Trojan Horse". For once, flashbacks from another movie actually work here; the archery duel; the scene with the wild boars; the killing of Eurialo; the duel at the end.
The cast is surprisingly good, with memorable characterization by the Queen and King Turno. The Queen is unforgettable, whoever played her. And King Turno is well played by Gianni Garko. Fans of SPACE 1999 will recognize Garko, who was Toni Cellini in the famous DRAGON'S DOMAIN episode. The only really weak part of the cast is Camilla, the young Amazonian woman. The purpose of her character is interesting but her dated hairstyle and appearance are the only incongruous elements in the film. The sets look real. Yes, it's not as spectacular and elaborate as "The Trojan Horse" but it doesn't need big moments to demonstrate the struggle of the displaced Trojan people which lead to the creation of Rome. And the score is excellent, one of the best I've heard in a Peplum. But the thing that tie all this beautifully together is the mature and assured direction. The compositions and constant smooth tracking shots give the film a greater professional look/feel than most films of the genre, which are often described static. Many moments could have easily turned into typical Peplum camp or silliness but here they were sharply set-up, creating tense or genuine emotional moments up to end. And one feels they actually learned something about history too. The film is believable too, which is no mean feat for a Sword & Sandal film.
I've watched many S&S films recently and this one stands out from the pack. It's clearly overlooked. People must have had Peplum fatigue back then for this film to be forgotten as it is now.
"The Trojan Horse" and "War of the Trojans" make an excellent double bill, for fans of Steve Reeves but history buffs as well.
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