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After the fall of Troy, Helen of Troy (Yvonne Furneaux) and Aryan (Mark
Forest), a musclebound nobleman faithful to her, head back for Sparta ...
but get shipwrecked, of all places, in Egypt. There, nomads soon bring
them to Thebes to the court of Pharaoh Ramses (Pierre Cressoy), who
immediately wants to make Helen his wife, and even tries to bully her into
submission, while he thinks very little of Aryan - much to the dismay of
Nais (Rosalba Neri), Ramses' (former) bride-to-be, but much to the
delight of Tutmes (Massimo Serato), his second in command, who soon uses
Nais in a plot to murder Ramses.
But if Helen and Aryan though things would get better now they were
wrong, because Tutmes uses the two as tailormade culprits and before long
orders their execution ... but Aryan manages to escape and meet up with
Menophis (Carlo Tamberlani), a benevolent usurper who just happens to want
to conquer Egypt. And with Menophis is Menelaos (Alberto Lupo), with whom
Aryan fought in Troy and who was once in love with Helen ... but now he
couldn't care less about the woman, and he even refuses to help Aryan
outright, even if this only would have meant the slightest change of
plans. So Aryan has to go back to Thebes on his own to free her - which he
only manages in the very last moment, as she was already about to get
squashed by an infernal ... er, squashing machine.
In the meantime, Menophis and Menelaos have attacked Thebes and
especially Tutmes' court side by side, and did of course kill the evil
tyrant. But then Menelaos shows his true colours, when he tries to steal
the treasures of Egypt - which seem to be carelessly lieing about at
Tutmes' place. As a result, Menophis has one of his archers shoot him.
And since Menophis is such a nice old man, he lets Helen and Aryan
return to Sparta, as man and wife.
Historical accuracy aside, this could have been an interesting peplum
(= the very Italian version of the sword-and-sandal genre), with the
leading, loving couple caught between fighting fractions where one is more
crooked than the other: Their saviour Ramses is a violent and evil
womanizer, Tutmes who takes care of Ramses cfonsciously uses them as
scapegoat and condemns them to death, and Menelaos, Aryan's former brother
in arms, proves to be a greedy bastard for whom loyalty, friendship and
even love are not worth a thing if they stand in the way of his personal
Unfortunately the film only could have been good, as it is it
totally fails to milk the set-up, instead squeezes it into a tried and
true peplum-formula ... and isn't even good at that. As a matter of fact, Lion
of Thebes is an utterly unexciting and unimaginative film, so caught
up in its formula that it is painstakingly boring - and this is coming
from someone who tends to like formulaic peplums. That Mark Forest int he
lead lacks both acting talent and charisma to fill his role of course
doesn't help either.