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I Due Gladiatori

Two Gladiators
Titan der Gladiatoren / Fight or Die

Italy 1964
produced by
Promoteo Film
directed by Mario Caiano
starring Richard Harrison, Moira Orfei, Alberto Farnese, Mimmo Palmara, Giuliano Gemma, Álvaro de Luna, Mirko Ellis, Piero Lulli, Enzo Fiermonte, Ivy Holzer, Adriano Micantoni (as Peter White), Gianni Solaro, Renato Montalbano, Nello Pazzafini (as Giovanni Pazzafini), Fortunato Arena, Franco Pasquetto, Osiride Pevarello, Renzo Pevarello, Bruno Ukmar, Franco Ukmar
written by Mario Amendola, Alfonso Brescia, music by Carlo Franci

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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191 A.D.: Lucius (Richard Harrison) is nothing more than a centurio in the Roman army stationed in Gaul, when he learns that he is actually the abandoned twin brother of Caesar Commodus (Mimmo Palmara), a madman and tyrant who rules his subject with an iron hand ... but who also relishes at fighting in the arena as a gladiator.

To end the rule of this tyrant, Lucius returns to Rome - but unfortunately his brother has already learned about his homecoming, and has him arrested before long. However, he does not want to leave it to the Praetorian guards to kill Lucius and has him brought to his residence - where Lucius succeeds in making a daring escape. Soon enough, Lucius has secured himself the help of the rebel underground and he manages to entice the Roman famine-struck populace to go against the palace and overthrow Commodus - Commodus however is clever, and he lays the blame for everything that's wrong in the empire on Cleandro (Piero Lulli), lets his subjects have their way with him, and promises to open the Empirial cornhouses to the public - and the tide turns to his favour.

It seems Lucius' rebellion is over before it's begun, but then Commodus announces he will be fighting in the arena again, and this time Lucius comes prepared and enters the games to fight Commodus, wearing the exact same armour as the emperor - and since the public doesn't know who to cheer for, they end up cheering for Lucius, and after he wins and kills Commodus in the arena, Rome's populace finally rises against Commodus' ruling caste and all the baddies are quickly overthrown.

Lucius though, who has learned nothing about ruling an empirehands over the throne to Pertinace (Mirko Ellis), whom he thinks to be a fair ruler.

Moira Orfei plays Lucius' love interest, Giuliano Gemma and Álvaro de Luna his sidekicks.

 

By 1964, the Italian sword and sandal film (or peplum, if you may) had pretty much run its course, and this film proves just that, a rather boring film of the overthrow the unjust ruler-variety with a plot consisting mainly of clichés, at best so-so action and a direction that is not exactly inventive or inspired. The lack of budget (e.g. the Colliseum sets look nothing short of pathetic) and the lack of impressive actors don't help one bit either of course.

Oh, and by the way, this film has little to do with actual Roman history, apart from the fact that there was really a Roman emperor called Commodus, who ruled the Empire from 180 to 192 - but his actual story seems to be far more interesting that the story of this film. 1964 also saw another version of the life and death of Commodus, Anthony Mann's The Fall of the Roman Empire, from which The Two Gladiators took quite a few inspirations (like Commodus' death in the arena instead of him being strangled while bathing - which is what actually happened). Weirdly enough, Ridley Scott's Oscar-winning 2000 film Gladiator, which also deals with the reign and end of Commodus, also ultimately has him killed in the arena.

As for The Two Gladiators, this one is not really worth your time and money.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD