“See Wild Women Fight to the Death –Let the Games Begin!”
When the ferocious and bodacious Pam Grier is captured by Roman soldiers and thrown into a steamy gladiator pit, you’d better believe bones will be broken, bras will be busted and a whole lot of trashy excitement will be unleashed in The Arena! Produced by Roger Corman and directed by ‘70s exploitation vet Steve Carver (Big Bad Mama), The Arena (aka Naked Warriors), re-teams the incredible Pam Grier with her Black Mama, White Mama co-star Margaret Markov in a lavish spectacle (well, at least by New World Pictures standards, anyway) set during the height of the Roman Empire. And while it may not win any awards for historical accuracy, this fun and sleazy female version of Gladiator sure wins extra points for sheer outrageousness. When evil Roman soldiers capture poor, but sexy, peasants Mamawi (Grier) and Bodicia (Markov) to train them as slave girls, our ebony and ivory heroines (along with two other women) are subjected to such indignities as public hose-downs and topless hand-waiting on Roman political slobs. When the girls start a nasty catfight (the first of many over the top highlights), the nasty Romans, led by the questionably named, token comic relief character Priscium, decide that their new acquisitions might make for more entertainment in the gladiator arena. However, after the women witness the brutal treatment of the male gladiators, who are promised their freedom and summarily executed, they decide that perhaps this isn’t the most efficient system of government and they plan a daring escape, leading to much sword-clanging, blood-letting and clothes-ripping. Fashionable feminism, gratuitous nudity, catfights, overdramatic dialogue … yes, the Roman Empire sure was a lot of fun.