Best of the Sword and Sandal subgenre 300 to Gladiator…

The ancient history and mythology of the Mediterranean countries have been a true treasure for filmmakers for many generations. Sword and Sandal became popular in the fifties with classics like Ben Hur and was complemented by cheap but no less entertaining Italian imitation films that soon followed.

Although the genre is a sworn enemy of any historian, it has much to offer action fans with its epic battles and heroes against monstrous stories. The release of Gladiator Ridley Scott unleashed a new wave of sword stripes and sandals, this time with updated special effects.

Although these films don’t have the nostalgic charm of the originals, they imitated the past in an even more epic way and gave a lot of fun. In this article I discuss the ten best contemporary works in this great genre. So we get in our float and fasten our seatbelts!

Why does sword and sorcery need the final resurrection…

10) HERCULES (2014)

After the Scorpion King, Hercules is Duane Johnson’s second raid in this genre and less successful. He plays Hercules, who has the reputation of being a legendary hero, but has become a cynical mercenary. Hercules and his companions were hired by King Côté to fight in his place in a war that looks like a normal war, but it’s not what it seems.

Hercules is the sword and sandal of 101 species. The film contains all the known genre trophies, but doesn’t really bring anything new. The dialogs are a bit heavy, and the program is thinner than a papyrus leaf. The plot is pointless, but it is richly and skilfully filmed as Heracles and his comrades defeat one horde of enemies after another. I think you can only enjoy Hercules if you’re a die-hard Duane Johnson fan. For all the others, it should be an ordinary movie.

9) 300 : EMPIRE RESEARCH (2014)

Czar Leonidas of Sparta is dead, and only the army of Athens and his master Themistocles can save Greece from the Persian god-king Xerxes and his ferocious fleet commander Artemisia. 300 : The rebellion of the Empire continues the story of its predecessor, and this time the Athenians must stop Xerxes. The film expands and creates more space for politics and peace building, although this part of the film ends with a more general war drama.

The somewhat monotonous images of the rugged mountains and coastlines of the first part are exchanged for more monumental landscapes. Epic naval battles are central to the film, and there are many breathtaking and of course ultraviolet battles. The main reason to see the film is Eva Green. His role as psychopathic and bloodthirsty commander of the Persian fleet is so bad that one in two characters in the film is overshadowed by his acting. 300 : Rise of An Empire does not have the rough intensity of the original, but there is still enough chaos to make it worthwhile.

8) TROY (2004)

I admit it can be difficult to justify mentioning a Brad Pitt-film on this site, but Troy is too good to be ignored. And Brad Pitt gives a performance that brings him closer to a real action hero at least once. Paris, Prince of Troy, kidnaps Elena, wife of King Menelaus of Sparta.

Brother Menelaus, King Agamemnon, gathers a large army led by the legendary warrior Achilles and besieges Troy to free Helen. Wolfgang Petersen took up the challenge of telling one of the most famous Greek epic poems and with a huge budget of $200 million he created a film that creates justice. However, with a monumental staging time of more than three hours, you must have a little patience to keep up. It’s a fairly sober film and it would be a noisy costume drama if it didn’t have some of the biggest and most epic battle scenes ever made for the genre.

Battles are fierce when swords, shields and spears collide and when Prince Hector Troy (played by Eric Ban) and Achilles (played by Pitt) plough their enemies on the other side. If you’re a fan of Greek drama mixed with thrilling battles, Troy is your movie.

7) CENTURION (2010)

Centurion exchanges its usual sunny Mediterranean location with the forests and mountains of Britain during the Roman occupation. The Ninth Roman Legion was sent to defeat a tribe of Picts in England who attacked Roman outposts. But everything goes according to plan, the Legion walks into an ambush and the survivors run for their lives. Centurion is a simple adventure that follows a group of soldiers on their dangerous journey through enemy territory.

The film has a rather dark tone, which is supported by landscapes with dirty and snowy British wildlife. In the film there are no epic battles, but mostly small skirmishes, because the Romans and the Picts repeatedly clash in bitter and violent battles. The film is another great shot by genre expert Neil Marshall and a much better performance than the rather carefree King Arthur, who was released with a similar set a few years ago. Centurion tells a simple story, but is characterized by a dark atmosphere and intense battle scenes.


Duane Johnson’s career took off as a rocket after his breakthrough in the Scorpion King. The prequel of the films Maman, tells the story of the revolt of the mercenary Matthew from the murderer to the king of prehistoric Egypt. The film doesn’t tell how he became a monster in the second film, but Matthew’s attempt to free Egypt from the clutches of the evil warlord Memnon.

With a hardened body from a wrestling career and great natural charisma, Johnson has owned the film from the beginning and even his acting performance wasn’t so bad in his first leading role. Of course, we want to see him hit anyone who gets in his way, and he’s got a lot of opportunities to do that. The Scorpion King is a colorful action adventure, a fun walk in the desert with a wealth of humor and creative and funny action scenes.

5) IMMORTAL (2011)

Immortal is the visual extravagance of director Tarsem Singh, who presents a gripping story in surreal and dreamlike images. In addition, we see Mickey Rourke in one of his best roles in recent years, as a sadistic and implacable king of Hyperion who wants to kill the Greek gods.

To do this, he must obtain the legendary Epirus Bow. The soldier Theseus has been chosen by Zeus to stop him, and the young hero has to face Hyperion’s army as well as the legendary Minotaur and the Titans themselves. The plot of the film is not very complicated, but there are some interesting twists. His sharp style sometimes makes The Immortals look like an art film, but he never deviates from it and the film brings the plot completely to the forehead.

The choreography of the battles is perfect. Singh combines excellent cinematography with an excess of blood and grief in computer-generated images, while Perseus acts against the seemingly inhuman forces of Hyperion’s army. Mark Cavill makes him a great hero, but Mickey Rourke steals the show, with a crazy costume and cruelty that knows no bounds.


I can imagine that for many viewers the gods of Egypt will fall into one of two categories: a soulless CGI Turkey or a crazy, sparkling roller coaster ride. I vote for the last one. Many years after creating a masterpiece of the dark and thoughtful The Crow genre, director Alex Proyas decided it was time to go the other way.

God the mountain is destined to become king of Egypt, but he is betrayed by his brother, who was installed before his coronation and stripped of his divine power. The human thief Beck must help Gorus regain his power and defeat Seth. The gods of Egypt transform ancient Egyptian mythology and its characters into a superhero/monster hybrid. Don’t worry about the plot, this film launches one action film after another in front of the audience.

The many attractions include cybernetic gods, spaceships, giant fire-breathing snakes and the demon worm that floats in the air. Fortunately, the film never takes itself seriously and has a lot of humour – language on the cheek. Even Gerard Butler, as master of the villain, is especially relaxed and cheerful when he conquers and destroys the world. The gods of Egypt are a fun journey with acid, but also a spectacular cinema of the upper class.


Clash Of The Titans is a remake of the 1981 film of the same name. The new version tells a similar story, but replaces the charming stop-motion effects with modern computer-generated images. The Greek gods declare war on people who lose faith in them, and only the son of Zeus, Perseus, can stop them.

In his quest he must traverse dangerous lands inhabited by monsters and even go to the underworld. Clash of the Titans can find a better balance between holding on to the roots of the sword and sandal genre and adding modern special effects to bring the ancient world of myths and monsters to life. It is a fun and varied journey from start to finish, because Theseus and his companions cross paths with harpies, giant scorpions, jellyfish and of course octopus!

Sam Worthington gives a cute performance as Theseus and joins a large group of famous actors, including Liam Neeson in a ridiculously brilliant costume as Zeus. The clash of the Titans was followed by a worthy but less exciting sequel to Rage of Titans, which I can only recommend if you want another 100 minutes of this film.

(2) 300 (2006)

300 is a film that, together with the gladiator, is rightly named as one of the best modern shots in the genre of sword and sandal. It is based on Frank Miller’s comic strip, which in turn is very freely inspired by the battle on Thermopylae’s narrow coastal pass. The pass was defended by a troop of Spartan soldiers led by King Leonidas against the great army of the Persian king Xerxes during his conquest of Greece.

300 is essentially a fantasy story, with little historical accuracy, and instead focuses on ultra-violent action scenes. Zack Snyder has created amazing visual effects by manipulating every frame of the film with digital effects to the extreme. In the film, the battles follow one another, and it is never boring to see masterfully organized battles in which fountains of blood and corpses pile up at incredible speed.

300 has a pathos that would border on the ridiculous if it weren’t so intense and atmospheric that you were attracted to it. The film was a pioneer role for Gerard Butler, who regularly returned to the action genre and also put Zack Snyder on the agenda as a comic editing specialist for the CGI Group.

1) GLADIATOR (2000)

Gladiator is not only the best sword and sandal in modern cinema, but also a classic in action movies. It tells the epic story of the Roman commander Maximus, who is wrongly accused of the murder of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Maximus is a slave and is forced to join a group of gladiators. He becomes a famous fighter and prepares to take revenge on the new treacherous Imperial Commodus. The gladiator was another genius under Ridley Scott. It is a historical drama, an adventure and an action film in an epic ensemble.

The film is a production with an asterisk, with monumental decors and battle scenes that are still amazing today. Almost every fight has become famous, from the struggle between the Romans and the Germanic tribes to the many gladiatorial fights. Russell Crowe gives a glimpse into his life, and the young Joaquin Phoenix is impressive as a sly and unpleasant opponent. Gladiator is an undisputed masterpiece among the modern sword and sandal genres and ranks first in our ranking.

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