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Sunday, 14 May 2017

Weekend TV Movie Review: Conan The Destroyer (1984), ITV4 #Schwarzenegger

Conan The Destroyer
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Grace Jones, Wilt Chamberlain, Mako, Tracey Walter  
Genre: Sorcery/Adventure
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $100 million

Plot: Conan leads a ragtag group of adventurers on a quest for the princess    

'Conan Follow-Up Is Almost More Like No Man'

Conan the Destroyer is the sequel to the hugely successful Conan The Barberian and one that is different from its predecessor. It feels more like a live-action Saturday morning cartoon version, had it been in animated form and yet shockingly for PG-13 film, there are some gory moments when Conan and his crew chop off the bad guy's heads and slices them with his sword. I had to shut my eyes when it happened. 

Watching Conan, like with Red Sonja and the first Conan movie, these are projects that I am not so used to seeing Arnie in. Modern day action flicks yes what with Total Recall, Commando, True Lies and Terminator 2 yes, but fantasy/sorcery films with barbarians and other epic adventure films set in ancient civilizations, far less so. 

I must say that it was only during the action parts that I became interested in the film and that when it turned to the characters conversing with one another, I didn't find it interesting. It tries to mimic Dungeons and Dragons and has a similar feel to the Sega Golden Axe video games, which also has a barbarian, warrior princess and elder character with a short stature. 

Olive D' Abo's performance is arguably the least impressive out of the lot and does a poor job with her overacting. She looks like she is 15, what with her youthful looks, yet could be easily mistaken as a teenager. Okay, actually I found out that she was 15, so yes I was right. As Princess Jehnna, she later develops an unnecessary attraction towards Conan, which almost borders on sickly. This Jehnna also possesses special powers - or be it supposedly possesses them and yet she could have used them for good. Instead, she spends most of the time doing almost nothing and saying very little. Arnie though looks the part and in great physical condition and the way he handles that sword, is great. His fight with some bloke in what appears to be a gorilla costume was okay, although the scene where he gets drunk, was rather peculiar and also amusing. As for Grace Jones, she reminds me of Sheva from the Mortal Kombat video game with her almost waif-like stature. She always has that expression on her face that is at times scary. Thief Malak is all right but then his antics grow old quickly, whilst with the Princess's bodyguard Bombaata, he has little to do. Every time his name is mentioned, I think 'Afrika Bombaata', as in the pop group, as is whenever Malaria was uttered, the first thing that came to mind was 'disease'. Anyhow, Conan's crew are a diverse bunch: you have a Black woman, a teenager/young woman, a White guy and a large Black guy alongside a hulking Austrian-accented barbarian.  

Even with a PG-13 rating for this film, there is always that element of danger and risk involved when it comes to handling swords, and it wasn't a pretty sight to see as Conan ran rampant with his big weapon. 

As a film, Conan The Destroyer is not a very good one and doesn't do justice to this character. The story was underdeveloped and just wasn't entertaining or interesting enough to sustain my interest that it became unmemorable; I spent most of the time zoning out and not paying attention whenever there wasn't a fight taking place. The direction is mostly bland and uninspired. 

After the awesomeness of the first movie, this follow-up is an overwhelming disappointment.

Final Verdict:

Whilst with some sequels they offer something different, which to some extent, Conan The Destroyer does, it is its execution where it should have been a massive improvement. Yet here, for the varied characters and some of the action and humour, the rest of the film with regards to the story is not captivating or that appealing enough. Although the lighter tone this sequel opts for smacks of everything the first film achieved and stood for, as an adult R-rated flick. 

It may have its charms in places, but these are so few & far between. This film's success was banked on its mindless action, - yet in taking that away, everything else appears to be inferior.    

Undoubtedly, though in the whole film he is the best of the bunch (by far), Arnie has come up with and delivered better in many of his other efforts, after this, no doubt. You can give me Total Recall, True Lies, Commando, and/or even Kindergarten Cop and Junior over Conan 2.


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