Let’s go back in time.
Hercules in New York is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first film, and it truly is a miracle that he ended up with a successful career after starting with this microwaved turd.
We follow Hercules (Arnie) as he pouts about being stuck in Olympia and eventually absconds to New York. We get plenty of muscly shots of Arnie (this at the height of his strong-man days) and watch him awkwardly get into situations where he has to fight people.
He meets Pretzie (Arnold Stang) who serves as our obnoxious and pointless guide through the city. Pretzie is loud, stupid, and on the screen so much it starts to defy logic. I’m sure Stang (who has top billing) might have been a draw, but here he is just insufferable. Nothing anyone says to anyone else in the film matters—at all—and they never stop talking! Even the poorly choreographed fights are cut to pieces with people talking.
You might think this all leads to some sort of discernible plot, but it doesn’t. This is potentially one of the worst films ever made, and how it ever got off the cutting room floor is beyond me.
The so-bad-it-is-kind-of-good moments are too few to even allow this film to have a sort of cult following. To call this amateur-hour would be an understatement as even amateurs have an idea of what they want the film to do. Here, it seems like we had a couple what-if ideas (like what if Hercules played some Olympic sports in New York or competed in a strong-man contest) and didn’t bother to feel anything out between these moments.
Sadly, the film would have been better if it had been more disjointed. We end up with some mobsters trying to intimidate Pretzie (Hercules never seems the wiser) and this is done for… reasons? Aside from terrible mob stereotypes and some truly cringe inducing acting there really isn’t a point to any of these moments.
I wanted to watch an old campy action yarn with Arnie being funny and weird. The film fails to deliver on just about all those desires, and barely gives enough humor to keep the whole thing watchable. Honestly, I imagine most people would simply turn it off before the 1/3 mark and they would miss nothing. Instead of an awkward and silly start to a career we get something that luckily didn’t kill it before it began.
Avoid this one.
Note: I remember seeing a part of this film where Arnie’s voice is dubbed, but on the version we rented it wasn’t. It might be funny to hear someone else’s voice coming out of the Terminator, but even this wouldn’t save the film. Youtube it for five minutes if you’re really curious.