Hall of Fame Speech #22: The Legend of Hercules

Brief note before we start: This year we got together our fifth (!) class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. At the time these films are inducted it will be officially 10 years since we started BMT! That’s absurd. But as is typical there will be films we watch five years ago which maybe deserve to be considered the merde de la merde of BMT delight. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the eighth (tenth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films ultimately chosen. Some might say the purpose of watching all genres and sizes of movie is to find another Here On Earth, the perfect BMT film. Welp, we definitely did that with The Legend of Hercules. I mean … Scott Adkins yelling with a beard in a genre of film right? Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for The Legend of Hercules

There appeared to be a moment in 2014 where film producers all watched Gladiator and were like “wait a second, we haven’t had a sword and sandals film for ages! Time to rake in dem awards and fat stacks!” Well, one of those producers actually wanted to just pay bad actors to do it, skip the awards, and go straight to fat stacks. And he got neither, and the sword and sandals genre literally died. Here it is, the amazing untold story of how The Legend of Hercules (probably) killed the sword and sandals genre. And if there is any reason to induct a film into the Hall of Fame, killing an entire genre is a pretty good one.

It has been five years since we watched the film. But what do I remember?

  • Huh … well there were certainly shirtless men in this film. A lot of them. All of the time. It is actually all they really talk about in the IMDb notes as well which is wild. I’m not joking, go and check it out, it is as if all of the notes were transcribed from a single Men’s Fitness interview with the cast.
  • Kellen Lutz, let’s really get into this. Kellen Lutz was in the Twilight films. And really not much else that would have been on our radar. He was then, randomly, in A Warrior’s Heart, a film I’ve never seen, but, for some reason, think about a lot. And then, further out of nowhere, he gets a starring role in this and Expendables 3 … say what? I actually can’t quite reason as to why we became moderately obsessed with him. After Expendables 3 his career has effectively been dead beyond a weird stint as the host of the game show Bullseye, and a now starring role in the FBI spin-off series FBI: Most Wanted. So why? Why did Kellen Lutz of all people get this role? His outstanding physique and Renny Harlin definitely being a weirdo about it.
  • The set pieces and action were just very very odd if I recall. A little like Game of Thrones, in that when they had to film a really big battle they’d film a bit against a wall with maybe like 4 people running around and then make it dark and fill it with smoke and the director would squint a bit and be like “alright, if we add a bunch of yelling and slow motion I think we can convinced people that there is a big battle going on and not run out of money”.
  • And this is an absolutely classic: “I’m hear to watch two things: Kellen Lutz’s outstanding physique. And Scott Adkins’ outstanding physique … what’s this now, a love story?” film. It is a huuuuuuge part of the film, arguably the entire film, and yet it is also the absolute last thing I want to see while watching Hercules run around. Where are the tasks goddamnit!?

The most important has to be Kellen Lutz right? If Kellen Lutz (or, let’s be honest, Jai Courtney) wasn’t in the leading role we probably wouldn’t have watched the film and we certainly wouldn’t be inducting it in the Hall of Fame now. It is possibly one of the last bastions of “this random guy who was barely in this huge teen series has a pretty good bod … let’s throw a flier out there to see if people will go and see a film that literally only stars him”. The answer is and always has been “nope”, and 2014 feels like just about the last year where something like this would actually be put into theaters instead of dumped as an Amazon Original or something.

And that is basically the same story with the genre. This and the Ben Hur remake from 2016 are two of the last true blue sword and sandals films I can think of with major theatrical releases. Turns out that you can get better and cheaper action when you don’t force yourself into a bunch of people wearing costumes and using spears and swords. Who knew? I actually just looked up 2014 for sword and sandal: Pompeii, this, Noah, Exodus, 300: Rise of an Empire, and the other Hercules … those are all huge disasters in one way or another! The genre is absolutely dead in the water after that.

You know what? I didn’t even know the thing about the genre before writing this paragraph, but I would argue that of those this is definitely the Sword and Sandal film I would want in the Hall of Fame. Right there, that’s the argument for why it deserves an induction. And then my god! It has Kellen Lutz as well? Buckle up, because this is going to be quite a rewatch.

How did the rewatch go? After describing Kellen Lutz and sword and sandals for like six paragraphs I turn on the film and it looks like absolute dog shit. It might genuinely be the ugliest film with some of the worst CGI I have ever seen. How much of that is because it was filmed in 3D and I was watching in 2D? A bit. For sure, that is part of it. But it is just astonishingly poor quality.

And then the love story is more than I even remembered. It is the entire film. There is no film without the love story, it is the A-story of this Scott Adkins / Kellen Lutz sword and sandals action film! It is so much of the film that Kellen Lutz spends what appears to be an afternoon as a slave before being freed to go back to pining over his lost love! It is at most a month.

The film is crazy, there are four different reasons to induct it into the Hall of Fame. One, it looks like crap. Two, it is a quintessential “whoops we accidentally made an action film into a rom-dram, sorry about that” film. Three, it killed an entire genre of film. And four, it stars Kellen Lutz. What the absolute hell is this thing? Where did it come from? Who is it for? It isn’t even that entertaining to watch, it is just more that scientists should study it to figure out how and why it was created in the first place.

I’ve gone on too long, but while writing this I think I went a little crazy thinking about the existence of this film and what it means for the existence of humanity itself. Welcome to the Hall of Fame The Legend of Hercules. May god have mercy on your soul.

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