Eye For Film >> Movies >> Conan The Destroyer (1984) Film Review
Conan The Destroyer
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Every great epic needs an inferior sequel, just like every mighty warrior needs a comedy counterpart. Here that counterpart is Malak (Tracey Walter), a nervous thief who has helped our hero to steal a considerable quantity of cash. When the two are tracked down at a remote altar, Conan tackles their troubles in his own inimitable style; but as he is seduced into a dangerous bargain, the real trouble is only just beginning.
With the classic revenge plot having been covered in Conan The Barbarian, this film takes on another classic fantasy plot, the quest for treasure. For Conan the real treasure is his dead girlfriend Valeria, whom mysterious Queen Taramis (Sarah Douglas) has sworn can be restored to life; but to reach her he must first recover a crystal key from an enchanted fortress. Unfortunately the key is cursed and can only be handled by specially prepared virgin Jehnna (Olivia D'Abo), one of the most annoying brats in movie history, who must therefore be taken along for the ride.
Rounding out the crew are low-rent wizard Akiro (Mako), surly warrior Bombaata (Wilt Chamberlain), and Grace Jones' unforgettable Zula, a formidable bandit whom Conan treats like an equal. With double-crosses waiting along the way, there's plenty to keep them busy. Much of this is also formulaic but the film has a few striking, imaginative sequences, most notably our hero's battle with a reptilian monster in a mirrored room. Skillfully shot, this neatly captures the mood of Robert E Howard's stories, and it's great fun to watch as long as you can resist shouting "This is a two minute game! Automatic lock in!"
There's a lot of talent in this film. Jack Cardiff's elegant photography lends all the more impact to the striking landscapes and gives the palace scenes something of the quality of the great Greek-set sword and sandals epics. There's still that thrilling Basil Poledouris score and there's some great creature work by Carlo Rambaldi. It's a shame that the gloriously grotesque final monster (played by an uncredited André the Giant) is so out of balance with a policy of reduced violence that renders key fights curiously bloodless.
This film may never quite attain the majesty of its predecessor but it's a better piece of work than has often been reckoned. If you can successfully ignore D'Abo and some of the less well-judged comedy moments, there's a good deal here to enjoy.Reviewed on: 20 Aug 2011