Who doesn't love it when men wrestle while wearing nothing but sopping wet leather straps? This question will soon be answered by The Legend of Hercules, which is about a man with a sword made of lightning — and underwear that always flaps open in just the right places. Ridiculously campy and full of 300-style slo-mo, this flick is perfect for bad movie nights and stoner outings.
The Legend of Hercules stars Kellan Lutz, a guy whose main claim to fame is as a lesser Cullen vamp in the Twilight series. He plays the Greek demigod with frat boy aplomb, letting us know when he's emoting by bulging up his neck or spitting when he yells. He's born when a woman in a forced marriage to a bloodthirsty tyrant begs the goddess Hera to save her. Hera sends her husband Zeus, king of the gods, to have sex with the afflicted woman and give her a son who will bring down the tyrant's kingdom.
And this is the first of many explosively awesome/silly scenes that elevate this movie out of merely bad and into so-bad-it's-amazeballs territory. Because director Renny Harlin — who is basically a schlock auteur at this point — doesn't want to send a cameo actor down to seduce Hercules' mom. No, she has to have sex with lightning. Hot sex, too. Thank you everybody involved in this film, for my favorite geophysical porn moment ever. After that, the insanity is basically nonstop. When Hercules is born, his father guesses that he's the son of weather rather than his own, and mistreats him; his elder brother, meanwhile, covets Hercules' strength and way with the ladies. The brothers are competing for a Generic Babe from Crete, who only wants Hercules. Finally, his father sends Hercules and his loyal Greek buddy off to fight a war in Egypt, where they are captured and enslaved. Of course they become naked mud wrestling slaves — duh!
Cue endless scenes of wet men punching, kicking, and zooming through the air in slo-mo with freeze frames right when the dudes are showing us that they have a million teeth in their snarling mouths. It's only a matter of time before Hercules retakes Greece using his bulging pecs and tight thighs.
Also, he does a lot of fighting with giant chains and sword-whips made of lightning, which made me think happily of a 1980s Dio video crossed with Highlander.
Probably the best part — well, other than the lightning sword — is that this movie is basically nothing but beefcake. Every ridiculous position that you've ever seen a female superhero in — from the "I'm looking kittenishly at you over my shoulder from a prone position" move, to the "somehow I fight while showing off my tits" maneuver — Hercules does it. It's like somebody from the Hawkeye Initiative infiltrated the choreography department. When Hercules is reunited with Generic Babe, she's standing there fully dressed while he emerges from a lake, gleaming and naked. It's pretty obvious whose body we're supposed to be fetishizing here, and I like it.
This movie is available in 3D, and for once I'd say that the cheapo post-production 3D totally works. It makes the slo-mo look even more ridiculous, and the whirling chains come zipping out of the screen in cheesy splendor. I should warn potential viewers, however, that this film is best enjoyed while lightly intoxicated. Do not attempt to watch The Legend of Hercules without at least getting high on chocolate or your substance of choice first.
As long as you're in the mood for a movie that's so bad it's good, The Legend of Hercules will not disappoint. If you're in the mood for another movie like Gladiator — just go watch Gladiator on DVD.