Wednesday, November 9, 2016

In short: Kull the Conqueror (1997)

By what is rather difficult not to describe as a series of violent yet hilarious accidents, barbarian Kull (Kevin Sorbo) becomes king of ancient Valusia. Nobody actually wants him on the throne, obviously. Various nobles – among them evil super-mullet man Taligaro (Thomas Ian Griffith) – would have been better suited for the position, but that’s how it goes in Valusia, apparently. Of course, the scheming nobles soon get together and form a conspiracy, deciding that using the priest of an ancient evil godhood to awaken a 3000 year old evil queen named Akivasha (Tia Carrere) is the best way to get rid of Kull.

Man, you think that’s not gonna work out to their satisfaction?

John Nicollela’s Kull the Conqueror doesn’t make it easy to like it: if you’re tolerant towards the special charms of badly thought out Sword & Sorcery movies, you’re probably right in the market to be bothered by the film’s other main annoyance – wasting one of Robert E. Howard’s best characters. Sure, the film does use some elements that vaguely resemble bits of the Kull stories, so clearly someone involved in the script has read them, but it completely ignores those elements that are actually fascinating and worthwhile in favour of a fantasy tale both generic and surprisingly undramatic. And if you’re hoping for snake people, picts, and philosophy, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

I just barely managed to squeeze past these hurdles (I’ve grown too old to jump, alas), to get at the film’s cheesy core. It’s not as tasty as the core found in many an Italian barbarian movie, but I take my fun where I can get it. So, if you go in for the cheese, you’ll probably hoot at the strictly PG-13 hot sexy times, headbang awkwardly to a score by Joel Goldsmith that fluctuates between crap pseudo-metal and a really crap Basil Polidouris imitation, giggle about an absurdly wooden – we’re talking Bryce Dallas Howard in Jurassic World degrees of woodenness here – good girl female lead in Karina Lombard, appreciate an awkward but enthusiastic witch queen, enjoy some somewhat okay sword fighting, yawn at boring magic, cry for the minutes of your life now wasted on camel piss based humour, and gawp at a finale that sees Kull kissing the Big Bad to death.

If you’re in for the beefcake, Kevin Sorbo doesn’t like shirts.

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