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Oh, I can understand why "Conan the Destroyer" is the way it is. The
original, classic "Conan the Barbarian" was a hit, but the Hollywood
decided they could get x-amount more money if they made a more
family-friendly sequel, thereby opening the franchise to the lucrative
market (never mind that, for as long as there have been "restrictive"
ratings, kids have known how to get to see the movies they want). Take
the sex, tone down the violence, crank up the humor, and... out comes this
It's like "Destroyer" is stuck in a state of half-development. The basic storyline would be okay, but the script gives Conan a coterie of unneccessary sidekicks (as if Conan were not a strong enough character to carry a movie by himself). Grace Jones is interesting to look at but gets tiresome VERY fast; the cowardly sidekick gets more irritating by the second; Mako wears this expression like he's only in this one for the money. Olivia d'Abo is just plain miscast: it's like she's a marker that should read "Insert More Interesting Character in Second Draft." Arnold Schwarzenegger does a competent job as Conan, but we don't see the raw power and brute force of the first movie. There is a thin line between competence and complacency, between an actor and a star; it took Roger Moore six years to get to that point in the James Bond series, while Schwarzenegger reaches the same point with Conan in two.
I think part of the problem is whether or not the Conan concept is flexible enough to become family fare, and my answer is "no." Fans of Robert E. Howard's Conan work know his Cimmerian is a very rough-edged hero, a cunning, hard-drinking, hard-fighting man, and the first Conan movie captured that essence. To change him into the simple-minded do-gooder of "Conan the Destroyer" is to destroy what Conan is all about, and the movie suffers for it.
Is "Conan the Destroyer" worth watching? Yes. For someone who knows absolutely nothing about Conan, I suppose it can be a harmless sword-and-sorcery popcorn flick. For Conan fans, it's kind of like "Legend of the Lone Ranger" for Lone Ranger fans: an irresistible example of just how badly Hollywood can treat your favorite character.
I just hope that if there is ever another Conan movie (not likely, thanks to "Destroyer"), the producers will concentrate on following the style of "Conan the Barbarian" and just ignore this one.
After the worldwide success of CONAN THE BARBARIAN, it was inevitable that a
sequel would be made (director John Milius envisioned the saga as a trilogy,
with an aged Conan ruling his own kingdom in the final chapter). But
Universal, seeing star Arnold Schwarzenegger as appealing more to younger
audiences, did not like the R-rated combination of gore, sex, and machismo
philosophy of the first film, so Milius was unceremoniously dumped, and more
family-friendly action director Richard Fleischer was brought in to helm
CONAN THE DESTROYER.
Working with a script by comic book scribes Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, much of what made the first film so unique was tossed aside. While Milius had Arnold lose weight and study Oriental swordsmanship, in an effort to tone down the bodybuilder look, and make him more flexible and believable as an arena-trained warrior, Fleischer ordered the actor to bulk up as much as possible, hoping to recreate the impossibly-muscled giant painted by Frank Frazetta on the covers of the paperback CONAN novels. Instead of being a taciturn loner, Conan would joke and 'care' about people, with an idiot sidekick (Tracey Walter) to provide comic relief. Bloodletting would be mainly off-camera, sex would consist solely of flashes of cleavage, and any monsters faced would be toned-down so children wouldn't be traumatized. While all this succeeded in garnering a PG rating, the end result was less Robert Howard's barbarian, more the generic B-movie hero seen in the dozens of imitations CONAN THE BARBARIAN had inspired.
The plot is simple; Cruel but beautiful Queen Taramis (SUPERMAN I and II villainess Sarah Douglas) promises to revive Conan's dead love, Valeria, if he'll lead virgin Princess Jehnna (Olivia d'Abo) and her bodyguard (basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain), on a quest to steal a giant diamond, and use it to recover a horn that will bring god Dagoth to life. Joined by his sidekick, Malak, a wizard (Mako), and a female warrior (Grace Jones), the group faces the usual array of monsters, wizards, and enemy soldiers, and defeats them all, succeeding in the quest...but Conan discovers, nearly too late, that the bodyguard has been ordered to murder him, after the horn is retrieved, and that Jehnna is to be sacrificed as part of the process of reviving Dagoth...
While the fight between Conan and Toth-Amon (Pat Roach), in a hall of mirrors, is well-staged and exciting, much of the rest of the film seems flat, with one scene, of Conan blind drunk at a campfire, ridiculously out of character and silly.
CONAN THE DESTROYER didn't achieve anywhere near the success of the original, but Schwarzenegger had no reason to worry; his next film would be a low-budget SF thriller called THE TERMINATOR, and he was about to become a superstar!
A footnote to CONAN...in early 2003, Schwarzenegger and John Milius tentatively agreed to bring CONAN THE KING, the final chapter of the saga, to the screen...With the original director's vision, and the improvements in FX that CGI has provided, we may yet see the ULTIMATE Conan film reach the screen, if Arnold's political career doesn't take precedence!
While the original 'Conan the Barbarian' was more dramatic, the sequel is
played more for laughs. Nonetheless, it is still a highly entertaining sword
and sorcery fantasy flick. The music is again outstanding and carries the
movie where the dialogue fails. Of particular note is Wilt Chamberlain's
impressive performance as the immense Bombatta. He has a tremendous screen
presence, more than just his stature (plus he had to do his own stunts!).
There are lots of memorable scenes throughout the movie. Not a cerebral film, just good old-fashioned fantasy!
If you're looking for a deep, interesting and layered fantasy flick
which makes sense and has an original story, go rent out the first
Conan movie. Conan the Destroyer is pure Hollywood cheese, made because
the Conan the Barbarian was such a hit. The studio execs made the story
more light-hearted, with sidekicks and magic and the kind of story a
thirteen-year-old could watch without getting in trouble.
Oddly enough, it works. While it's light years away from Robert E Howard's original Conan stories, Conan the Destroyer is still great fun, even twenty years after it was made. Arnold Schwarzenegger makes the most of the very silly lines he's given, Tracey Walter proves a capable if somewhat pointless comic foil, and the irony of casting Wilt Chamberlain as a protector of a young princess' virginity is hilarious.
Mako hams it up, Grace Jones takes it all too seriously and Olivia D'Abo makes for a good childlike princess because she was 16 when the film got made. The music's over-dramatic, the lines are laughable ("Some wizard you are! Go back to juggling apples!") and the story's cliché, but for Saturday night viewing, nothing beats Conan the Destroyer.
Possibly Interesting Trivia: This movie was produced by Raffaela De Laurentis, daughter of the famous Dino De Laurentis. She also produced the confusing big-budget epic "Dune". Both Dune and this movie flopped at the box office, and both were filmed in Mexico.
The plot moves on at a fair old pace from one big set piece to another and it is clear the film had a decent budget. In fact, I would say that this is excellent bubblegum sword and sorcery fodder except for a few minor, but annoying quirks. For one thing the comedy sidekick Malak is phenomenally irritating, badly acted, and takes any tension, interest etc out of any scene. Clearly they were going for a wider 'family' appeal with this film, but this was also clearly a decision made some time down the filming process. Most obviously this hits home during the fight scenes with some very choppy cutting as some of the more gruesome bits have been removed. And Conan's second encounter with the camel suffers from this too! That aside the cast carry off their roles with aplomb, Grace Jones in particular really getting across her character's zest for and love of combat. One of the better hack and slash films out there.
Sadly, sequels are rarely as good as the original, and with Conan the
Barbarian being such a good movie, this one had to produce something
special to live up to its predecessor.
Well, we still got Arnie as Conan, so that's a good start. And we have one of the other cast members from the first flick, in the shape of Mako. But that's about where any good stuff ends.
The first death knell for this movie is the casting. We have Tracey Walter as Malak, a thief side-kick of Conan's (whatever happened to Gerry Lopez's Subotai character?) Tracey does a very good impression of Peter Lorre...throughout the whole film. Then there's Grace Jones (perhaps the original singer-turned-actor) as some kind of demented she-warrior. All she is really good at is glaring at people and hissing like a snake and she does this......throughout the whole film. Sarah Douglas as the obligatory evil queen...the only thing she seems to be queen of is sequels (Superman 2, Puppetmaster 3, Beastmaster 2 etc.) and Olivia D'Abo, who is just irritatingly helpless and annoying here.
The plot is trivial and the dialogue poor and some of the effects are lamentably bad (look for the island in the lake and the "man-ape"). Also, did I mention that Grace Jones is just horrible and hisses a lot? I did? Oh well, it bears repeating..
All in all, this is a cash-in movie, designed to rake in some easy money on the back of the original and not really caring much about a plot or good actors. Even Arnie, the world's best actor at not saying many lines, is hampered by having too much dialogue.
Avoid it unless you want a laugh.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The original Conan movie - Conan The Barbarian - came out in 1982 and
was both a popular sword and sorcery film and a reasonably successful
attempt to turn bodybuilder Arnold Scwarzenegger into a movie star.
However, the critics were somewhat unkind to John Milius's fantasy
epic, stating that it was far too long, far too serious and far too
humourless. On that occasion, the critics were wrong - I, and many
others, like Conan The Barbarian BECAUSE of its length and its
seriousness. The story feels thorough and atmospheric, and the pace is
controlled, not dull. It is very sad that this sequel addresses the
very things that were falsely alleged to be "wrong" or "flawed" about
the original. It's as if the makers of Conan The Destroyer sat down and
listed all the criticisms ever levelled at Conan The Barbarian, then
tried to do something to rectify them. So, this sequel is shorter, more
lightweight and more humorous than its predecessor. Does it work? Have
these changes resulted in a massive improvement? No. In fact, Conan The
Destroyer is actually vastly inferior to the original, and is little
more than a juvenile romp aimed at bloodthirsty kids and slightly nerdy
Fearsome Cimmerian warrior Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his travelling companion Malak (Tracey Walter, in a bad comic characterisation) are summoned to carry out a dangerous quest on behalf of the treacherous Queen Taramis (Sarah Douglas). She promises that if the quest is a success she will reincarnate Conan's long-dead lover so that he may be reunited with her. The mission requires Conan to take a beautiful, virginal princess named Jehnna (Olivia D'Abo) on a journey to recover a magical crystal. The princess is the only person who can handle the crystal which, when used correctly, will unlock the gateway to an all-powerful horn. With this horn, Taramis plans to awaken a deity and share God-like power with it by sacrificing Jehnna. Along the way, Conan picks up other travelling companions to aid him in his quest, such as the female barbarian Zula (Grace Jones) and inexperienced magician Akiro (Mako). However, Taramis has lied to Conan in order to secure his services; she not only has no intention of bringing his lover back to life, but also plans to kill him once his usefulness is over.
Conan The Destroyer is not a total loss - in fact, in some departments it is actually quite good. Basil Poledouris again provides pulsating music (not quite as good as his scoring of the earlier film, but good enough all the same); Jack Cardiff's photography brings the vast sets and varied locations colourfully to life; there are even infrequent bursts of real excitement. But Conan The Destroyer is repeatedly dragged down by its numerous flaws - ill-suited comedy, listless performances, obvious special effects, and an episodic narrative. In particular this last criticism is a major disappointment. The story is episodic to the point of tedium. The characters ride around, chat about love and magic, then arrive at some kind of temple or castle where a little action ensues. Again and again, with irritating repetition and boring monotony, this same sequence recurs - ride, chat, action.... ride, chat, action.... ride, chat, action.... ride, chat, action.... Conan IS a destroyer - but, unfortunately, what he's destroying is his own genre!!
A good film, but not as good as the original. The original Conan
the Barbarian was a low-budget "B" movie with a great plot and
excellent use of special effects for it's day. The Destroyer has an
increased budget (probably because of the success of the first
one) with better effects (the creature at the end) but plot has
slipped a little in response to the need to make more money off of
the Conan legacy. I'm glad they stopped here; I wonder how bad
they really could have gotten. -Joeyfro
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I was a little girl, my parents were hooked on the Conan movies,
but The Destroyer always stood out to me more for some reason. But I
haven't watched this movie for a very long time, so the other night, I
was in a weird mood, I decided to watch the Conan movies. So The
Destroyer was more familiar to me. But the thing is, this movie is a
sort of break through for Arnold, since this movie was a flop at the
box office, he doesn't like sequels, The Terminator being his only
exception. So I was curious as an adult if this movie really was as bad
as it's made out to be, I liked it a little bit when I was a kid, but
when you're a kid, you're fascinated by anything. So watching this
movie, as cheesy as it was, I still had a good time watching it. I
understand why a lot of people have a distaste for it, it's definitely
not up to par with the first Conan, it's more of a comedy vs.
adventure. But I still enjoyed this movie, it's a good bad film that
Conan and his partner, Malek, are brought before Queen Taramis, who asks that Conan perform two tasks for her: obtain a special gem and retrieve the magic horn that can awaken the god, Dagoth. In exchange, she offers to resurrect Conan's dead lover, Valeria. Conan agrees. Conan, Malak, Jehnna, the queen's niece, and Bombaata set off on their journey. Along the way, Conan enlists the aid of his old comrade Akiro and the group later encounters Zula, who joins the party. They then set off after the magical horn, which is kept inside of a mysterious fortress. Jehnna retrieves the horn. After some difficulty from the cult residing in the fortress, they try to make their way back to Queen Taramis however, Bombaata betrays Conan and takes Jehnna, leaving the others to fight for their lives.
The story is a bit much and it's not the same as the original, but if you give it a fair enough chance, I think you'll enjoy it too. It is a bit more comedic and steers away from the original story, but I think the comedy still made it fun. I loved the addition of Grace Jones, she was one tough chick and could stand proudly next to Conan; even if she did have a silly Japanese anime type of look to her hair in the end. I loved the costumes and the special effects and of course, Arnold. Conan is the part that he was meant to play and he carries the movie well with the other cast. Granted I know the direction isn't really good, it does have a more cheesy vibe as this was the same director for our favorite barbarian box office flop that was Red Sonja. There are a lot of plot holes and a script that could us a more than a few touch up's, but give the movie a fair enough chance, don't compare it to the original, on it's own, I'm sure you'll have a good time watching it.
I have been captivated by Conan's heroic fantasy world for many years.
For this reason alone I am rating this film as 6/10. Do not expect a
continuation of the first Conan film. 'Conan The Destroyer' is too
light in its scope and Conan is not the same man anymore. The villains
are also not as menacing.
Having said that it was good to see Grace Jones and Sarah Douglas and also Conan's companions had good lines and were very funny at times.
As a side note I found the adjective 'Destroyer' in the title quite misleading and unfortunate. For those of us that read the Conan novels we see Conan driven by his own motivations, and fighting his battles only if he had to and not for the sake of destroying. The film distributors could have picked something else to promote the movie.
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