Gladiators 7 (1962)

a.k.a. - I Sette Gladiatori (ITA)

Richard Harrison is the star of this light hearted Historical Adventure Peplum. VCI USA R0 DVD.

The Film

Darius, son of the King of Sparta has helped five of his fellow countrymen escape from Roman prison, but is caught himself and sentenced to death in the arena. With amazing skill he escapes from his executioners and is granted his freedom, provided he returns to Sparta. When he arrives, he discovers that his father is dead and the woman he loved is betrothed to the usurper. Framed for murder, Daruis meets up with an old friend and sets out to track down the five Gladiators he freed, to help him win back the throne.

Written by genre regulars Bruno Corbucci and Alberto De Martino, Gladiators 7 is surprisingly not based on the Akira Kurosawa or John Sturges films (except for the presence of seven heros), but takes a rather typical Peplum plot with a returning hero having to fight against an evil dictator who has usurped the throne. The tone is quite light, particularly in the scenes involving the reuniting of the seven gladiators, although these scenes seem to be more suited to the beginning of a sequel and would certainly be more effective if we had met the characters before-hand. Like many of the Pepla, the film has a generally light hearted tone with some amusing sequences. There is nothing particularly surprising in this quite slow storyline although it provides a few good action scenes and builds to an exciting climax.

Little known Spanish director Pedro Lazaga takes the chair for this one with a solid if uninspired display. The production is generally good with some nice looking stadium sequences and plenty of the usual costumes, most noticable however is the ludicrously anachronistic castle set and model/matte painting that dominates the final part of the film. Looking like a left over from a Medieval or Viking film (and it probably was) it unintentionally pushes the film into the territory of the absurd. An early soundtrack from Marcello Giombini (Sabata (1969)) gives the film a rather standard but effective backing.

American import Richard Harrison had two Italian adventure films under his belt when he came to make Gladiators 7, he is well suited to the role and gives a typically fine performance. Loredana Nusciak, instantly recognisiable for playing Maria in Django (1966) appears as a love interest and there are plenty of familiar genre faces in the rest of the cast.

There is nothing too original in this historical adventure and it is rather disappointing that they chose not to adapt the Seven Samurai (1954) formula, but the film remains enjoyable and is well directed. One for Peplum and Richard Harrison fans, there are many better genre entries that should be tracked down first by newcomers.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Richard Harrison - an American actor who made his name in Europe with Pepla, Spy films and Westerns.
Directed by anyone interesting? Pedro Lazaga - a little known Spanish director who also helmed the giallo/horror film Murder Mansion (1971)
Any gore or violence ? Nothing bloody.
Any sex or nudity? None
Who is it for? Of interest to fans of the Peplum and Richard Harrison.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. Colour
The print is acceptable quality but does suffer from some noticable fading throughout and mild print damage in a few scenes. The night scenes in particular are very dark and hard to see.
Note: The cheap widescreen lenses used on this film mean that the edges of the picture are slightly distorted throughout, this dates from the original print and is not a problem with the transfer.
Audio English mono - a rather distant sounding audio track with some noticable damage in a few scenes late on in the film.
Subtitles None
Extras The disc includes:
  • Trailer reel for VCI released Spaghetti Westerns and Mario Bava titles.
Region Region 0 (ALL) - NTSC
Other regions? This print has been copied in the US by other budget releases including several of the multi-film sets - quality on these is likely to be lower. Also available on DVD in Spain although without English options.
Cuts? The film is believed to be fully uncut. The print used is English language.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 23th December 2007.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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