Man of the People – The Fury of Hercules (1962)

The evil Menistus has taken over the homeland of Hercules and rules by proxy through the daughter of the former king, bewitching her with soft words and promises. Learning of it from a slave girl named Daria, Hercules is determined to put things right, but to do so he will need an army and he knows just where to find one.

There is nothing quite so original about The Fury of Hercules, written and directed by Gianfranco Parolini, but it is exceptional for the fact that it is well put together and treated as a serious action epic. There is no comedy relief as found in many peplum features and no mythical monsters which in itself is a bit of a shame, but there are court intrigues aplenty, not to mention enough action to satisfy any adventure fan. Due to that, the picture rolls along at quite a brisk pace and never drags for even an instant. In the first act alone, Hercules battles a lion and then a gorilla which makes for some great eye candy and from there, it seems as if Hercules is battling everyone from then on, though it is the final few scenes of the movie when he goes up against the forces of Menistus that things really satisfy.

Brad Harris stars as the titular Hercules while pop singer Serge Gainsbourg puts in a great performance as the villainous Menistus. Mara Berni would appear as the Queen who seemingly could not think for herself and further, be involved in a minor love triangle with Hercules and the slave Daria as played by Luisella Boni, credited as Brigitte Corey in this movie. While most of the action was quite stupendous and choreographed better than the usual film, it was the actors and actresses which would be the glue to bring it all together with some solid performances.

Despite some of the poor effects, like the gorilla costume, the only thing that would really disappoint would be the final scene where Menistus dies, for it is not at the hands of Hercules, but the people he oppressed. Fitting though it might have been, seeing Hercules mete out justice as only he can would have been far more preferable to what actually ended up on film. As it is, like every picture starring the son of Zeus, The Fury of Hercules has the man doing what he does best – fighting for the oppressed, doing what is right, living life to the fullest and simply being the greatest hero that ever lived and one could not ask for anything more. This may not be the best to come out of the sword and sandal genre, but it is a very robust entry and a lot of fun to boot.

3.5 out of 5

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