Conan the Destroyer

Coming of age is hard, no matter which day and age you live in. Being a princess destined to go on a magical quest to awaken a sleeping god for your aunt can't possibly make it any easier. Princess Jehnna (Olivia D'Abo) finds herself in such a difficult situation in Richard Fleischer's Conan the Destroyer, the fun (but not as awesome) sequel to Conan the Barbarian. Joined by legendary swashbuckler, Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his buddies: wizard Akiro (Mako) and thief Malak(Tracey Walter), Jehnna and her mighty manservant  Bombaata (Wilt Chamberlain) embark on a quest to find a magic crystal that only the virginal princess can touch.

On their way, they encounter brigands, cultists, a shape-changing wizard, and warrior-woman Zula (Grace Jones). Zula joins the band as a female mentor figure for Jehnna, giving the budding young woman advice about how to catch her man. The princess has cast her eye on the stoic and mighty Conan. Little does she know that Conan is only on the trip because her aunt had promised to give the barbarian the one thing he wants most in the world: his beloved Valeria back from the dead (because necrophilia and cremation do not mix). Talk about a major bummer and set-back for love-struck Jehnna! It also totally doesn't help that Bombaata is mostly on-board to keep Jehnna from getting jiggy with anyone, especially Conan. He's her own personal, walking chastity belt and a total killjoy (possibly because he might have a thing for her himself, it's kind of unclear).

Getting to self-actualization is a two-step process for Jehnna. First, she has to get kidnapped by some skeezy old wizard in a castle across a lake in order to acquire a magic jewel. The ensuing Conan vs. Wizard battle in a room of mirrors is kind of neat, but also a bit reminiscent of this battle from the original "Star Trek" (at least to me). They have to use the jewel to get the horn from the mouth of a dead lizard thing (totally not any sort of sexual imagery there).

They get the jewel (and the totally-not-a-penis) horn for the dreaming god, Dagoth. Jehnna gets to confront her own growing desires and comes into her own (after nearly being sacrificed by her god-hungry aunt). Everyone gets what they want most. Except for Conan. That, however, is a tale for another time. Or so the narrator tells us. Again. Sigh.

The thing about Conan the Destroyer is that, while fun, it doesn't nearly reach the epic levels that its predecessor scaled. There are moments of charm and giggles, but it just feels like its missing some vital element. Still, it's way better than some recent fantasy films that shall not be named.

Fist of the North Star

How is it possible to make a movie this bad?

It has a who's who of B-Movie actors, from Malcolm McDowell , to "Downtown" Julie Brown and the the kid who played Rufio in Hook (Dante Basco).

This film is disappointing in nearly every way a movie can be. First of all, it's so slowly paced that, even at just 90 minutes, it's too long.  Secondly, the casting is just terribleCostas Mandylor-who was at his best in Picket Fences -is the main villain, Lord ShinHe mugs and grimaces at the camera and delivers his line in a way that a nine year old might find scary. Also it doesn't help he's wearing a ridiculous wig that he can't stop playing with. 

But probably the most grievous of all the miscues in this movie, is the casting of a kick boxer as the man who supposed to be the Fist of the NorthstarGary Daniels plays Kenshirô, the titular Fist-and he's aggressively unappealing in the role. He wanders his way through a Dystopian Landscape TM that is caused by an unknown event at an unspecified time, as Malcolm McDowell vaguely puts it an opening monologue that says "bad things happened" as we scroll past a demolished city.

Not that we need motivation for violence in a movie, but if you're going to have a flashback explaining everything, you might want to give it to us while we still care. You see, apparently Shin betrayed Kenshirô and poked a punch of holes in chest, one by one, with his index finger-as the lady they'd been feuding over looked on. We get to see this in a flashback that looks like it was filmed on the set of a high school production of MacBeth, and it takes far too long to get to it.

Before that, Lord Shin's Goon Squad-consisting of Chris Penn and Clint Howard -hassle and capture a bunch of rebels, the aforementioned Downtown Julie Brown, and Melvin Van Peebles. Yes, that Melvin Van Peebles. The movie is cut up between the goon squad doing bad things, and then Lord Shin saying how it's all part of his master plan, wash, rinse repeat.

After a bunch of vaguely related scenes and some very boring fight sequences with gratuitous slow-mo, we at last get to the final battle between Shin and Ken. Personally, I rooted for Ken, because Lord Shin dresses like he was at a fashion show for Super villains ("This fall, all the most stylish dystopian dictators will be going with the lace-up leather tank top.")

Can you Cavalcade this movie? Sure, but we don't recommend it. It's too dull. But if you just really had to, this movie could go well with Street Fighter: The Movie, just in terms of sheer badness.