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DVD Review: Return Of The Gladiator (1971)

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From Mya Communications comes Return Of The Gladiator (aka Three Giants Of The Roman Empire, aka Il Ritorno Del Gladiatore Più Forte Del Mondo), one of several kajillion sword and sandal (or, “peplum,” if you will) films produced by our brothers and sisters in Italy from the '50s through the '70s. The film casts American muscleman extraordinaire Brad Harris along with Italian actors Raf Baldassarre and Massimo Serato.

Trouble is brewing within the Roman Empire. It’s those dammed Christians — they’re converting the loyal citizens to their evil religion of love! To make matters worse, there’s a plot to overthrow the Roman government afoot. And so, gladiator Brad Harris is dispatched to fix things, along with his comrades (Baldassarre and Serato). That’s about it in a nutshell, kids — throw in a lot of beefy muscle madness and some truly horrendous moments of “comedy,” and you have another Italian peplum flick that’s great for folding your laundry to.

Mya Communications presents this average peplum entry in a non-anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen ratio. The video quality is good, considering the print has its share of wear and tear, but the non-anamorphic enhancement really left a frown on my face. The bare bones DVD release gives its viewers a choice of soundtracks: the original goofy English dub, or the original tinny Italian mix. Both mono stereo soundtracks come though fairly well, with the Italian track a lot louder. No subtitles are included for the latter soundtrack, so, if you don’t speak Italian, you’ll probably want to stick to the English dub.

While Return Of The Gladiator is not what 99% of the people in the world would refer to as “good,” it manages to come through as decent afternoon TV fodder. You can just sit back and let this one play without having to think or even stay awake for that matter. Plus, no matter how dumb it might get at times, it never dulls your senses as harshly as most MTV programming does.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.
  • Chuck

    Serato is the evil guy here, not a friend of mr. muscle.

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