In the late 1950s, American bodybuilder Steve Reeves somehow ended up in Italy and made a cheapo production of 'Hercules.' It spawned an avalanche of knockoff strongmen films -- some starring Reeves, some featuring a rather malleable new character named Maciste -- and are just wretched examples of boring cinema that, for whatever reason, I ended up seeing quite a bit of as a little kid. But to an 8-year-old back then, sub-Ray Harryhausen special effects and wafer-thin plots still managed to impress. Hey, it was a Sunday afternoon and a color TV.
It's easy to say “they don't make 'em like that anymore,” but the spirit of these garbage movies is alive and well in Renny Harlin's charmingly awful 'The Legend of Hercules.' Starring Kellan Lutz as a block of concrete that has to fake the classic British accent (even though Hercules is Greek), this is boring by-the-numbers dross from the artless Millennium Films, best known for 'The Expendables' films. It has maybe three good fight scenes and two moments that are so over-the-top bad you just have to laugh, and that makes for some undeniable entertainment. The best way to describe 'The Legend of Hercules' is as the fake movie that teenagers in movies go to see.
While Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been busy at work on Brett Ratner's 'Hercules: The Thracian Wars,' director Renny Harlin ('Die Hard 2,' 'Exorcist: The Beginning') was already busy with his own take on the iconic grecian strongman. Along with 'Twilight' star Kellan Lutz (in the title role), Liam McIntyre ('Spartacus'), Gaia Weiss ('Mary Queen of Scotts'), Scott Adkins ('The Bourne Ultimatum') and co-producer Jonathan Yunger, Harlin came out to New York Comic-Con 2013 on Saturday to reveal the first trailer for 'Hercules: The Legend Begins' and to give fans some idea of what to expect from this origin tale.
Coming at us riding a wave of surprisingly good reviews and even a small festival run, 'Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning' is the latest entry in the durable head-smashing franchise. This one once again features the blank stares of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, while also showcasing the newest action hero on the block, Scott Adkins. A red-band trailer for the film has just been unveiled and it's certainly worth a look.
If Scott Adkins isn't the biggest action star in the world in five years, we as a society have failed.
Over the last half decade, Adkins has become a dependable stunt performer (he was Weapon XI at the end of 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine') and supporting baddie (he fought Matt Damon in 'The Bourne Ultimatum' and played Jean-Claude Van Damme's toadie in 'The Expendables 2') in mainstream films. His work harkens back to the action genre's bygone glory days, when special effects and computer imagery took a back seat to raw physicality and brute force. Sadly, his only leading roles to date have been relegated to the direct-to-DVD bin, where he's excelled in lean, low-budget martial arts flicks like 'Undisputed III: Redemption.'
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