Monday, 9 November 2009
Conan the Destroyer
Ditching the Milius flick's brooding Nietzschean menace, Conan the Destroyer instead hitches its wagon to stunt cast action figures, and aimless, yuk-yuk sidekicks. Pitched squarely at kiddy crowd simplicity, this re-packaged franchise jump-off was toned down considerably pre-release to land a US PG certificate. Not that you'd know watching the film. Cannibal's decapitated heads soar weightlessly when swiped, umpteen extras are bloodily eviscerated, and all manner of beasts are punched, pushed, and brutalised. The UK DVD still carries a 15 certificate today, despite judicious snipping to the film's endless scenes of animal tripping.
Between films, Schwarzenegger's Conan seems to have misplaced his calculating mind, devolving into a reactionary muscle man. Destroyer pitches him as a cautious savage, adept at rending regular folk but reluctant to engage with the dark knowledge of wizards. Didn't Conan the Barbarian end with the Cimmerian toppling an entire occult nation? You'd think him emboldened. Contracted by the grubby royal line that has moved in to fill the snake cult power vacuum, Conan must accompany a bratty, virginal princess on a journey to reclaim a God-artifact. Saddled with an excess of people, Conan sets off on the rob. On the way they run into Grace Jones' Zula, a yelping blood-debt bandit who strays after them and isn't given anything to do. Journey's end involves Andre the Giant in a turd brown, Carlo Rambaldi designed swamp-suit selling for Schwarzenegger.