29th Jul2014

‘Hercules Reborn’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: John Hennigan, Christian Oliver, Marcus Shirock, James Duval, Dylan Vox, Christina Ulfsparre | Written by Jim Hemphill | Directed by Nick Lyon

Hercules-Morrison

The second Hercules movie we’ve reviewed here in the space of a week, Hercules Reborn is a product of mockbuster kings The Asylum and unlike The Legend of Hercules, which told the story of Hercules discovering who he is, this iteration of the mythical hero’s take takes place after he kills his wife and children in a fit of madness and is now living in exile, banished for the murders. However when the bride of Arius, an officer in the Greek army, is seized during a bloody coup by a ruthless Greek general, the soldier turns to the legendary Hercules for help. Initially Hercules refuses, but when he sees this as a chance for salvation, he agrees to help Arius. Together they must battle the general’s army, as well as the demi-god’s demons, in order to rescue the bride and reclaim the honor of Hercules.

Given that this is a product of The Asylum there HAS to be a connection with the current cinematic outing of the character. That’s how the companies many, many, mockbusters have worked right?

Right.

Taking the lead from Brett Ratner’s Hercules, which stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, The Asylum have tasked another former ‘sports entertainment’ star as their lead: in this case former WWE superstar John Morrison – performing here under his real name of John Hennigan – who rose to fame in the WWE as part of the tag team MNM, before gaining both the ECW Championship and the Intercontinental Championship. Having made the move into acting, this marks Morrison/Hennigan’s first headlining role and whilst many would question casting a wrestler as the lead in any movie, here the casting actually works in The Asylum’s favour. Morrison is surely going to bring a wider audience to Hercules Reborn, and for once our titular hero actually looks like he could seriously kick your arse – when he’s not busy looking smouldering, moody or drunk of course!

To be fair, I wasn’t really expecting that much from Hercules Reborn, so it came as something of a surprise to discover this product of The Asylum was less of a typical mockbuster and more of a truly solid attempt at telling the story, albeit a very different story, of Hercules.  If the reports are to be believed, The Asylum budgets most of their current movies at the million dollar mark, if this is true then the company have literally put every penny on screen – from the costumes to the sets, to the epic (for a DTV action flick) battle scenes, this film looks every bit the million dollars; making this easily the best looking production to come from the company in its relatively brief history.

I’ve no doubt the success of this Asylum production comes down to it’s director Nick Lyon who was also behind two better-than-average DTV zombie films: Zombie Apocalypse and Rise of the Zombies, starring Ving Rhames and Danny Trejo respectively. Both of those films made the best of their budgets and of their story; and Lyon’s repeats that formula again here. Yet despite the serious action-movie tone, Hercules Reborn is not without it laughs (some no doubt unintentional) and it’s hard not to appreciate any film that re-stages the famous “I Am Spartacus” scene from the Kirk Douglas film using a small courtyard of drunks instead of an army of slaves.

Despite being a much smaller-scaled production, Hercules Reborn does actually score points over the much bigger-budgeted The Legend of Hercules – nowhere more so than in it’s reveling in the violence and bloodshed of the genre (thank god), something which was missing from Renny Harlin’s watered-down teen-friendly version. John Morrison also makes for a much more enigmatic hero, running the gamut of emotion from moody drunk, to anti-hero, to just plain old hero – whereas Kellan Lutz’s titular character was a much more one-note affair. Although what’s with both films turning the mythological hero into more of a man than a demi-god?

Somewhat of a pleasant surprise from The Asylum, Hercules Reborn is out now on DVD from Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment.

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4 Responses to “‘Hercules Reborn’ DVD Review”

  • Dan

    I have just watched this movie. To be honest I wasn’t expecting much but it had me hooked until the end. With obvious budget to adhere to which is apparent with the lack of extras and atmosphere. However I enjoyed it and I would watch it again.

Trackbacks & Pings

  • Hercules Reborn says:

    […] Taking the lead from Brett Ratner’s Hercules, which stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, The Asylum have tasked another former ‘sports entertainment’ star as their lead: in this case former WWE superstar John Morrison – performing here under his real name of John Hennigan – who rose to fame in the WWE as part of the tag team MNM, before gaining both the ECW Championship and the Intercontinental Championship. Having made the move into acting, this marks Morrison/Hennigan’s first headlining role and whilst many would question casting a wrestler as the lead in any movie, here the casting actually works in The Asylum’s favour. Morrison is surely going to bring a wider audience to Hercules Reborn, and for once our titular hero actually looks like he could seriously kick your arse – when he’s not busy looking smouldering, moody or drunk of course! Nerdly. […]

  • Hercules Reborn says:

    […] Taking the lead from Brett Ratner’s Hercules, which stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, The Asylum have tasked another former ‘sports entertainment’ star as their lead: in this case former WWE superstar John Morrison – performing here under his real name of John Hennigan – who rose to fame in the WWE as part of the tag team MNM, before gaining both the ECW Championship and the Intercontinental Championship. Having made the move into acting, this marks Morrison/Hennigan’s first headlining role and whilst many would question casting a wrestler as the lead in any movie, here the casting actually works in The Asylum’s favour. Morrison is surely going to bring a wider audience to Hercules Reborn, and for once our titular hero actually looks like he could seriously kick your arse – when he’s not busy looking smouldering, moody or drunk of course! Nerdly. […]

  • Nerdly » ‘Mercenaries’ VOD Review says:

    […] The Asylum I really enjoyed their Animal Planet flick Blood Lake, and their recent Hercules flick, Hercules Reborn, was a decent low-budget “mockbuster” take on the legend that actually was less of a […]