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  Kull the Conqueror Legendary Journey
Year: 1997
Director: John Nicolella
Stars: Kevin Sorbo, Tia Carrere, Thomas Ian Griffith, Litefoot, Roy Brocksmith, Harvey Fierstein, Karina Lombard, Edward Tudor-Pole, Douglas Henshall, Joe Shaw, Sven-Ole Thorsen, Terry O'Neill, Pat Roach, John Hallam, Peter Petruna, Boris Bacik
Genre: Action, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Kull (Kevin Sorbo) is a Barbarian warrior from Atlantis looking to to try his luck against a horde of other fighters when the heir to the throne of the Kingdom challenges him to a duel. This heir, Taligaro (Thomas Ian Griffith), blindfolds them both after kitting them out with flaming swords and they commence their combat, with Kull at first gaining the upper hand but then bested by his opponent's greater experience. Nevertheless, he is invited back to the castle of the King (Sven-Ole Thorsen), who has just killed off all but two of his heirs. Little does Kull know of the title to be awarded him...

Kull the Conqueror was intended as Conan the Conqueror, the third in that series of films, but Arnold Schwarzenegger was reluctant to return to the role. Instead of recasting, no mater, thought producer Raffaella De Laurentiis, we'll simply adapt the script, by Charles Edward Pogue, to a different Robert E. Howard character and this was the result. Even if it had been a Conan film, the sense of it being yet another sword and sorcery effort in the wake of the first instalment never quite left this, and despite its pedigree it fell into the pale imitation cateogry.

Sorbo had found fame on the small screen as Hercules, and here was a musclebound action fantasy on similar lines, although humour was thinner on the ground. There's an element of self-spoofery, though, as if they weren't sure in the ironic nineties how serious not only the filmmakers should take the material, but how the audience would react either. For those who wish their Howard straight, then it's possible to approach Kull in that way, but this means the problem that affects much of the genre rears its head here as well, in that it's far too full of itself for it own good.

To the plot, then: Kull makes quick work of the murderous King, but not before the expiring but impressed monarch declares him the new King, much to the chagrin of Taligaro and his son, Ducalon (a whiny Douglas Henshall in an unfortunate wig). Taligaro then begins his scheming to depose this new head of state, which involves the business mapped out in the pre-credits crawl, essentially meaning that a she-demon of fire from the distant past who wants to make a comeback, Akivasha, is introduced as Kull's new Queen only to upset his applecart on their wedding night.

Tia Carrere is the high point of this story, clearly relishing the chance to play an out-and-out baddie with a seductive meanness, but too often she's relegated to a supporting role. Kull's actual love interest is a harem girl called Zareta (Karina Lombard) who is more surly than enticing but accompanies him on the expected quest nevertheless. One thing notable about this film is the curious variety of actors in the cast, including as it does Harvey Fierstein as an unlikely pirate captain or ex-punk Edward Tudor-Pole as a sorceror in the thrall of Akishava, but it's not enough to raise anything here above the mundane. If you're after a nuts and bolts swashbuckling fantasy, then this is fine, but it's uninspired and lacks a certain lusty enthusiasm necessary to carry this kind of thing off with flair. Music by Joel Goldsmith.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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