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Giovanni Di Benedetto
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Another of those historical "epics" abusing the white-people-in-turbans approach. When it comes to Italian sword & sandal dramas, I prefer the more fantasy-themed ones with two-fisted muscle-men and the occasional monster. Unfortunately, THE CONQUEROR OF THE ORIENT replaces the more imaginative elements with enough clichés to make every plot-twist visible a mile away. Not only has the story been told many times before and since, but it's usually more entertaining in other variations of these often repeated themes (i.e. palace intrigue & conspiracies, avenging the death of one's father). It's dialog-heavy and most of its action scenes are pretty bad: Flimsy swords and dreadfully bad swordplay. I don't know if these weak (and few) duels were exciting back in 1960, because I'm seeing them through 21st century eyes. In short, the movie doesn't stand the test of the times and even in its English dubbed form, THE CONQUEROR OF THE ORIENT just isn't interesting.
Even so, I enjoyed it more than Ridley Scott's GLADIATOR (2000). But then, I enjoyed getting a route canal more than I enjoyed GLADIATOR. To be fair, THE CONQUEROR OF THE ORIENT has its good points: The costumes aren't bad, the sets (curtains help cover the walls' lack of props) are okay, and them harem girls put Barbara Eden "Jeanie" to shame. Though not cheap by Italian 1960s standards, its resourceful budget cuts add unintended humor: A night-time cityscape is an obvious matte that looks like a cartoon. In one scene, the obligatory tyrant (Paul Muller) looks out the window of his lavish palace, to see revolting peasants carrying torches. It's so obvious that these 'torches' are lit matches that it's actually quite cute!
When I watched this average tale of tunic-attired hero Nadir (Rik Battaglia), I had to tolerate a badly restored VHS tape with abrupt cuts (severing many sentences mid-word), scratches, and the "Something Weird Video" logo throughout. Anyway: I don't think there was any finger-printing or DNA testing back in the old primitive Middle East, so when an exiled prince(Battaglia) wants to prove he's the rightful heir to the throne, they have tests. One test is simply to hit a board using his sword! Oncethis feat is accomplished, our hero leads the rebellion to rescue Princess Fatima (Irene Tunc) and her cleavage. The reluctant bride was held captive by evil ruler Dakar (Paul Muller), until the palace is attacked by heroic Rik Battaglia. The final (and only) fight between Muller & Battaglia is decent, or at least better than the other action scenes in this slow-paced drama. In one decent stunt, the good guy swings on a vale and kicks Muller's stunt-double. Naturally, Rik Battaglia wins and gets the girl (and the country).
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