Raised with strong moral ethics and understandings is vital to creating one’s personality and mannerisms. It shapes and molds you, allowing you to become an improvement for society = more humane. Or not, depending on the circumstances. A moral code defines you, and to defile those standards may create a feeling of being less as a person. So what happens when you’re caught in a dilemma that strongly encourages you to stray from your nature, but in the name of righteousness? Could you really go through with it? Would you risk losing your dignity and identity to do what’s necessary?
In the beginning of the movie, we see our hero, Hercules (played by Kevin Sorbo), witnessing his two sons fighting with each other. He pulls them apart to make them realize the fault of their actions. Only enemies fight with each other – not brothers. Hercules then goes on to explain why by telling a story. To be exact, it was one of his adventures. Actually, majority of the film is flashbacks to the past with unbelievable adventures used from an array of four movies that predate this one. If you wish to learn of these adventures, I’ve written all about them in four other “Hercules” articles.
To distract Herc from reminiscing, Iolaus (played by Michael Hurst) drops in unexpectedly – literally. Both spar while Iolaus mention that he’s learnt new techniques on how to counterattack a larger person and defeat them. Eventually at some point in the movie later, Herc lets Iolaus show off his stuff in duel with some nasty barbarians. But as Iolaus and Hercules spar, they are caught red-handed in the act by Hercules’ daughter, and by his wife, Deianeira (played by Tawny Kitaen).
Deianeira pulls Iolaus aside to clue him in on the fact that Hercules seems off lately for he misses being out on quests. Herc on the other hand has convinced himself that he’s content with the settled life. But his wife knows better, and can see the change in him by giving up that life. Just as luck has it, a man in dire need of help asks for Hercules’ aid to defeat the Minotaur that’s escaped it’s labyrinth prison. Hercules answers with the answer “No, I’m sorry I can’t help you.” Dumbfounded, all the man can utter back is, “But you’re Hercules…”
Of course he changes his mind and sets out on the open road with Iolaus at his side. Herc carries nothing but a travel sac with him, while Iolaus brings his travel sac, a bow with arrows on his back, and a sword on his hip. I suppose it’s safe to say that Iolaus likes to be prepared, while Herc likes to travel light. On their way they run into Zeus, the King of the Gods (played by Anthony Quinn). All is well and dandy until their mission is mentioned. Zeus appears disturbed by this and wishes them luck before leaving abruptly. The duo immediately can tell something is up – but what could it be?
Next scene shows the Minotaur (played by Anthony Ray Parker) in his underground lair being visited by Zeus – only both don’t seem pleased to see each other. But both have very different reasons as to why. Apparently, Zeus is responsible for Gryphus, the Minotaur, being locked up in the first place, as well as the reason for his Minotaur appearance. But Zeus reminds the beast that were it not for his lack of control, there would have never been a curse upon him. A curse found suitable by the Gods for his treachery to turn one against another, including his very own family. Gryphus reveals that his anger only grows with time and shall only cease when Zeus suffers to the same degree that he has suffered. Be careful what you wish for Gryphus…
Anyways, Hercules ends up in a jam when he’s made to look like a murderer. Being the first one to appear at the scene of the massacre wielding a sword, it’s no surprise the townspeople saw Hercules as the culprit. Good grief. So Hercules flees the scene, grabs Iolaus and eventually gets backed into a corner. Truly, it was the Minotaur who’s to blame for those deaths. Just as our heroes seemed doomed, a massive earthquake tears the ground asunder taking a villager and Iolaus underground with it. As quickly as it came, it leaves just as suddenly.
A strange and unusual occurrence which proves Herc’s innocent. On he goes to the cave of the Labyrinth where the Minotaur resides. Inside are multiple halls – not for the weary. After some time, Zeus appears with a request. He wants Hercules to do what he could not – kill Gryphus.
When Hercules finds the lair of the beast, he finds Iolaus as well as other people snatched up by the heinous creature. He was found cocooned and passed out inside with a green paste smeared across his face, but very much alive still. Only question running through my mind at this time was, “Did the Minotaur keep these people preserved so he could feast on them later?”. If so, would that make him a cannibal? Unfortunately that mystery remains unsolved. Pity.
Gryphus realized that Hercules has discovered his lair soon after and battles him in a forceful, bull-like manner. With much light being shed on this match, you finally get to see the Minotaur in its full glory, and I couldn’t help but notice that he has a rather dark complexion. Made me remember that it’s the same for the “Minotaur-like” man in American Horror Story: Coven. What a strange coincidence.
The match ends when Gryphus is knocked down onto a spike and impaled through the chest. In his dying moment, Gryphus reveals that they are brothers, half-brothers, fathered by Zeus. Hercules is clearly shaken by this knew that death was inevitable for him. Zeus returns to apologize for keeping this a secret. He didn’t have the heart to kill him as a babe nor a man. Even though Gryphus’ lust for power and craving more out of life caused him to change, he was still his son regardless.
Gryphus pleads to Zeus to not leave him on his deathbed looking that way still. Zeus agrees and changes him back to his true human form. But get this, the guy is now white?! Did I miss something here? I’m confused…
Well our heroes live another day to tell their tall-tales once again – adding a new one to the mix. But something is different about our duo now. A longing to go home and live the “retired” life has never looked so good before til now. They both return home with gratitude in their hearts for the wonderful, simple life they live. Nothing beats family.
Now, none of us may have to deal with such a wicked curse if we allow ourselves to stray endlessly, but it is safe to assume that we would make a beast of ourselves if we were. Gryphus lost himself in his power-hungry craze because he simply had no restrictions, no moral ethics, no honor, no beliefs, and no respect for anyone or anything. We all have the potential to be great, you just can’t let life get the best of you. Stay true to yourself, always. You may not be able to control where you’ll go in life, but you are in complete control of who you’ll be in life.
Facts to Know:
- Released in 1994, filmed in New Zealand
- Directed by Josh Becker, produced by Sam Raimi, and music composed by Joseph LoDuca
- This film is the final film of a five-film-mini-series that is apart of the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys TV series, and it supposed to take place just prior to the show when Hercules is still living at home with wife and kids before his epic travels. Only after his family’s tragic death does he decide to travel on the open road, thus the “legendary journeys”.