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Conan the Barbarian (1982)
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by the Grinch

"Drop the conspiracy crap, Oliver! Write more of this stuff!"
5 stars

For most, a simple fantasy tale of a warrior, a cunning barbarian who's got a medieval putdown for every sword slice and a way with the ladies. But for some, an allegory for self-reliance and spiritual and personal strength.

A great movie from the golden age of early 80's cinema. Robert E. Howard created the character of Conan almost 70 or so years ago, but his pulp fiction revived (and some would say, originated) the Swords and Sorcery epic. Unfortunately, Howard committed suicide at the age of 30, but authors like L. Sprague de Camp picked up the baton, and the popularity of the books culminated in the driving and well-received "Conan the Barbarian".

Much like Batman, Conan is a warrior forged by the fire of vengeance. As a boy, he spends much of his life enslaved by the evil overlord Thulsa Doom. By sheer power of will, he survives years of cruel slavery, growing to be a powerful and much respected gladiator...and the last of his tribe. He eventually escapes his tormentors and tries to live his life with his companions (surfer/actors Sandahl Bergman and Gerry Lopez) as a thief and rogue...that is until a King (played with mucho gusto by Max Von Sydow) hires him to rescue his daughter from the influence of Thulsa Doom, whose power is growing like a polyp on the ass of the land. Soon, it becomes a question of whether Conan's purpose is to rescue the King's daughter and collect the bounty, or to kill Doom and avenge his family and himself.

Actually, I don't understand how so many people can deem this a mediocre film. Granted, it has its cheesy moments, that's for sure, but this WAS the 80's! 'One of the Boys' this ain't! The script is just phenomenal, and there's actually a valuable message presented in the "Riddle of Steel". The riddle is a running theme, mentioned more than once in the movie. Doom pretends to have the answer when he tells a captive Conan "What is steel without the hand that weilds it?" The people in his cult that he holds sway over seem to be his perception of true power. This material assumption is wrong, and Conan soon learns the true answer to the riddle.

There's something that parallels modern times in Doom's snake-worshipping Cult of Set. The theme of evil men taking advantage of the world weary and broken-spirited. The wicked hiding behind a veil of religion and righteousness, when they are neither religious or right. This adds so much to the suspense and drive of the film, and makes it that much better when we encounter the ubiquitous "uncertain underdog facing off against a seemingly unstoppable evil" scenes.

All the characters, while mainly reinforced through actions as opposed to words, are given dimension by their actors. Who else but Ahnult is fit to be the sword weilding Cimmerian? James Earl Jones as Thulsa Doom is cooly evil and almost mesmerizing, despite the goofy wig. Even in crap like 'Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold' this guy is a powerful presence that demands attention. Max Von Sydow is a welcome addition in any film, and Sandahl Bergman and Gerry Lopez look like they probably LIVE their roles off screen. Here's a fun tidbit of trivia: During filming, vodka was added to the fake blood in some scenes to keep it from freezing...well, Lopez, Bergman, and everyone would take a swig of this 100 proof fake blood betweeen scenes! So, if some of their lines seem a little slurred here and there, now you know why!

I never really noticed Oliver Stone's co-writing credit at the beginning of the movie. You know, I really wish Ollie would show a little variety and do some more fantasy stuff like this every once in awhile (although JFK and the Doors could quite possibly be considered Fantasy).

Lastly, I should say that even if you hated this movie, BUY THE SOUNDTRACK. Forget your Jerry Goldsmiths, your John Williamses, your one night in Bangkoks, Basil Poledouris is a genius. His soundtrack adds a pseudo-medieval and emotional edge to the film that fills in where the dialogue can't perfectly. I swear, Poledouris' soundtrack could be pounding away over an AssMaster(tm) commercial and I'd be mesmerized. Well, okay, I'd be mesmerized without the music as well.

Reviewer note: (Oct 2, 2001) I am now the proud owner of the Collector's Edition DVD of Conan the Barbarian. If you own a DVD player and are a fan of fantasy movies and filmmaking in general, this is a must-have item. Included on one dual layer disc is a (1 HOUR!) documentary on the making of Conan...also included are tons of production designs by the brilliant Ron Cobb, photos, press shots, deleted footage, trailers, and best of all, a running commentary track between Ahnult and director John Milius. Schwarzaneggar's memory of the film isn't as vivid as Milius, who gives excellent insight into filmmaking and his inspirations, but the running discussion of the film is enlightening and often hilarious. At one point, Schwarzaneggar jokes with Milius "I'm still vaiting for you to make the second film...". Freudian slip? I think not. Excellently done DVD.

If Mr. T knew you haven't seen this film by now, you'd definitely make his 'Pity List:2000'! Rent it, don't watch it on TNT, fool!

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=992&reviewer=156
originally posted: 01/19/00 04:29:57
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell pulpy fun 4 stars
12/27/13 KingNeutron Love it still, the Music helps it stand the test of time- and Sandahl, totally hot ;-) 5 stars
6/21/12 Jeff Wilder As far as sword and sandal pulp goes this one's hard to top. 4 stars
12/20/11 jcar a very good good sword and sorcery flick, with good music and good acting, which is rare . 5 stars
10/18/11 Magic A movie that should have sucked, but didn't due to sincerity and an unsubtle score. 4 stars
1/09/11 action movie fan spectacular sets and effects, very good violence but somewhat sluggish-still worht it 4 stars
1/18/10 earthling Lean and mighty-thewed cinema 5 stars
8/04/09 Steve Hock Ha! Plenty of time for the Earth in a grave. 5 stars
12/06/07 Adrian You will either think this is shite or genius, but you are only right if you think genius. 5 stars
8/21/07 AJ Muller Utterly fantastic. Sights, sounds, cast, crew - all top notch. 5 stars
8/19/07 mark madsen one of the best 5 stars
8/19/07 Vincent Ebriega Dumb, yet terrific entertainment. 3/5. 3 stars
5/06/07 David Pollastrini great action 3 stars
2/08/07 Biodagger A real classic, one of the best fantasy films ever made. 5 stars
2/03/07 Vip Ebriega Violent and sensual fantasy flick. Great entertainment 3 stars
9/09/06 David Cohen See what happens when Hollywood thinks it can improve on books? We get crap like this 2 stars
1/20/06 eTourist The greatest MAN'S romance 5 stars
9/16/05 Eric Baker The score is worth the price of the DVD, the movie is magnificent, amoral, fantasy action. 5 stars
8/19/05 ES Thoth Amon was Conan's enemy, Thulsa Doom was Kull's, but this movie was still pretty good 4 stars
6/03/05 Eric Conan is THE swords & sorcery movie. 5 stars
5/14/05 Indrid Cold Until Lord of the Rings, this was probably the best fantasy movie ever. 4 stars
2/02/05 Nick Only one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time could pull this off and Arnold was bad mo 5 stars
12/27/04 Grandma Dynamite A Magnificent Tribute to Violence, Sex and Death 5 stars
9/05/04 Conan Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, hear the lamentation of their women 5 stars
7/15/04 alban Great movie 5 stars
3/13/04 LIAM JACKSON james earl jones shines as Thulsa Doom, a man of pure evil. 5 stars
2/19/04 c.r a great movie , I love swords fights and women who can fight with a sword! a great movie ! 4 stars
12/28/03 Monkey This movie sucked monkey-bum. 1 stars
12/26/03 Mully great cinemotography, musical score, and adventurous spirit that transcends time. 5 stars
11/28/03 john above all a great adventure movie and surprise a human story 5 stars
11/14/03 Ultron One of the best fantasy movies 4 stars
10/20/03 Charles Tatum Not much better than the dozens of clones it inspired 2 stars
8/13/03 Aapo Splendid! 1 stars
3/31/03 Mr. Do well.. more fun than looking at my floor. 3 stars
5/26/02 I'm in (L) with a Jedi whats wrong with all u people, I agree with Mr. Hat 2 stars
5/17/02 R.W. Welch Cheesy but fun, good enough put Arnold on the map. 4 stars
3/19/02 W just perfect 5 stars
3/08/02 Holabala Mendivolo Crush your enemies, watch them die before you, and hear the lamentations of their women! 5 stars
11/25/01 Mike Noren Roolz. Just roolz. 5 stars
9/05/01 Joe E One of, if not THE best movies in the history of film! 5 stars
8/07/01 Mr. Hat Lemme just say this:Heaven is not where U R when U waste half a nice day w/this grainyshit. 2 stars
7/03/01 Kenneth Davis A classic, epic fantasy film that spawned a new genre! Don't miss this movie! 5 stars
5/02/01 Gracy Lionheart My absolute favortie movie of all time 5 stars
4/19/01 Thomas Kaiser Schwarzeneggers's best movie ever - the spirit of the Conan novels is captured perfectly! 5 stars
4/07/01 Johnath Bucker It's awsome. No dumb jokes like in the other Conans, no other movie can rock this much. 5 stars
3/24/01 Only Best movie Best sountrack 5 stars
3/09/01 Rob N. My favorite Arnold movie and the best hack and slash film ever. 5 stars
12/31/00 Steve M U got everything u need in this movie.....crazy ass brutal violence...naked chix..and arnie 5 stars
8/22/00 zall Arnie shines yet again 5 stars
8/01/00 Delusia All I have to say is Tree of Woe. 5 stars
5/03/00 Andrew P One of the best Dungeons and Dragons type movies of all time. 5 stars
4/19/00 Jason Quinn My soul on film 5 stars
1/21/00 JonnyAngel Awww yeah 4 stars
10/26/99 Karahde Khan My favorite Fantasy/Sword and Sorcery film! They aren't made like this anymore... 5 stars
10/17/99 Weird Andy To crush your enemies, make them heel before you...to hear the lamentations of the women. 5 stars
3/10/99 Bats What all the other sword & sorcery films wish they were (Hercules & Xena, too) 4 stars
3/10/99 little jerry The Conan story needs the vividness of Frank Frazetta's paintings.This is pure stodge. 1 stars
11/25/98 Justin Superior sword and sorcery movie. Great actions scenes and thundering score. 5 stars
11/12/98 Jules This film is pure. Really good fantasy flick without glam. Rare. 4 stars
10/26/98 Silent Rob Great look, Great score, very iffy in the story/acting dept. 3 stars
9/27/98 Brandon B. Best of the Barbarian-echelon films. Awesome score. Reccomended listening for sure. 4 stars
9/16/98 Trav A terrible film, yet has one of the best filmscores. Basil Poledouris = legend. 2 stars
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  14-May-1982 (R)
  DVD: 20-Jan-2004



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