Action, Adventure, Drama | 92 Mins | Released: 1962
Director: Pedro Lazaga
Starring: Richard Harrison, Loredana Nusciak, Livio Lorenzon, Gérard Tichy, Edoardo Toniolo, José Marco, Barta Barri
Our Rating: 6
Framed for the escape of five gladiators from the arena, the son of one of Sparta’s leading citizens is sentenced to the arena as gladiator himself and forced to fight for his life in the Roman Colosseum. Years later he manages to escape and return to Sparta, only to find out that his father has been murdered–even though it was ruled a “suicide”–and the woman he loves is about to marry the evil king who has usurped the throne. He sets out to find six of his fellow gladiators and return to Sparta to save his woman and place the rightful king on 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 noticeable 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.