A retired elite Black Ops Commando launches a one man war against a group of South American criminals who have kidnapped his daughter to blackmail him into starting a revolution and getting an exiled dictator back into power.
Mark L. Lester
Rae Dawn Chong,
A barbarian trained in the arts of war joins with thieves in a quest to solve the riddle of steel and find the sorcerer responsible for the genocide of his people in this faithful adaptation of Robert E. Howard's sword and sorcery adventures. This film briefly sparked a wave of fantasy films including the sequel, Conan the Destroyer, in the early 80s. Written by
Keith Loh <email@example.com>
Before the battle for Conan's soul, as the wizard is painting his hands, we see that this warrior and thief has very nicely manicured fingernails- which we also see on Valeria after the battle as she is running her hands over Conan. See more »
Between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of. And unto this, Conan, destined to wear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow. It is I, his chronicler, who alone can tell thee of his saga. Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!
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People who have never seen "Conan the Barbarian" probably expect a sword-and-sorcery movie with a predictable plot, over-the-top action scenes, and pathetic attempts at humor. The reality is very different.
This movie is a statement about two fundamental human values: survival and revenge. In Western society, we can hardly appreciate these values, because we hardly ever need to worry about survival, and with the State taking care of justice, we feel little need for revenge. By watching this movie, we get a different perspective. Of course, not everybody will like this movie: I have actually met people who don't. I put it down to people not appreciating how important survival was to our ancestors.
Sword-and-sorcery movies, such as "Conan the Destroyer", "Red Sonja", and "The Scorpion King", have nothing to say about survival and revenge: they are too light-hearted (but at the same time their attempts at humor are too coarse). "Conan the Barbarian" is closer in feel to "The Road Warrior", or "Escape from New York", two other movies set in worlds where survival and the rule of law cannot be taken for granted.
Another relevant comparison is with the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Here the difference is that "The Lord of the Rings" is a struggle between Good and Evil, while "Conan the Barbarian" is a struggle for survival (and revenge).
While the movie is not very realistic, it feels much more "real" than the sequel. Apart from a bit of sorcery, which does not affect the plot, there is nothing glamorous about the life story of Conan. It seems strange that somebody who grows up pushing a wheel ends up with a well-proportioned Schwarzenegger physique: how can you develop your biceps muscles if you always push? However, I was not too bothered by this flaw.
Arnold's acting is (to put it mildly) less than brilliant. Still, this is not a drawback: how articulate do you expect Conan to be, when he grew up as a slave? Speaking of which, R.H. Howard purists often complain that the "real" Conan would never be a slave. However, the movie would be much poorer if Conan did not have some real hardship to take revenge for.
There is no question that visuals and music play a big role in this movie. I have been listening to the soundtrack a few times a week for nine years, and it is better than Prozac.
Yet dialog (or rather, monologue) also has its moments. There are a couple of intriguing speeches, by Conan's father and by Thulsa Doom; but the most stirring monologue is Conan's first and only prayer, delivered just before the crucial Battle of the Mounds. The philosophy that transpires from this prayer is pretty straightforward: nobody will remember if we were good men or bad, but people will remember if we were brave; revenge is what Conan most cares about; and if his gods won't help him, then he'll help himself.
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