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REVIEW: Kull The Conqueror (1997) – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: Kull The Conqueror (1997)

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‘When I get my hands on the bitch demon, I will rip out her evil heart.’

*Spoilers Below*

In the kingdom of Valusia, a strapping young barbarian named Kull (Kevin Sorbo) valiantly attempts to join Valusia’s elite dragon legion army led by General Taligaro (Thomas Ian Griffith).  Kull hails from Atlantis and his weapon of choice is an Axe not a sword.  After being rejected, he hears word that King Borna of Valusia has murdered all his children and heirs to the throne.  Rushing to the palace, Kull tries to put a halt to the madness.  When King Borna instigates a swordfight with Kull on the palace floor, Kull reluctantly kills the King.  In his dying breaths, Borna bequeaths his crown and kingdom to Kull, who is now the new leader.

Kull, an ex-galley slave and pirate, is unaccustomed to the Kingly lifestyle.  He inherits all the King’s worldly possessions, including his coterie of harem girls and a eunuch to advise his decisions.  Out of all the women in the harem, Kull is fascinated by the feisty and independent-minded fortune-teller, Zareta who stubbornly resists his romantic advances.

As a result of his experience as a slave, Kull’s first decision as King, is declaring all slaves freed and paid a fair wage.  Kull’s democratic and progressive ways extend to allowing freedom of religion in his land.

Kull’s reign is a thorn in the side of Valusia’s elites and nobles including General Taligaro.  They meet in secret and plot to dethrone him.  After a failed assassination attempt, they allow necromancer, Enaros to resurrect Akivasha (Tia Carrere), the alluring witch and sorceress queen of Ancient Acheron.  Akivasha wants to re-establish her evil empire, which is essentially hell on earth.  The witch has healing, seduction and mind control abilities.  She manipulates Kullinto marrying her and becomes the new Queen of Valusia.  On her wedding night, she poisons Kull and imprisons him in the necromancer’s dungeon.  Kull must now free himself, take revenge on Akivasha and save Valusia from the rebirth of a hellish nightmare.

For fans of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Conan movies and those patiently waiting for a King Conan movie, Kull the Conqueror is a mildly satisfying sword and sorcery adventure.  Highlights include Joel Goldsmith’s creative score that blends rock and orchestral music.  Kevin Sorbo, while missing gravitas and presence is a likeable hero and is in better shape than he was during Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.

However, because of the PG-13 rating, Kull the Conqueror lacks the sex and titillation of more lurid sword and sorcery pictures like Excalibur, Deathstalker or even Beastmaster.  The movie is also hampered by a campy performance by Tia Carrere, in a ludicrous red wig and green contacts and an uneven tone which veers from serious adventure to slapstick comedy.

Recommended for fans of Kevin Sorbo and 1980s fantasy films.  It’s certainly a better film than the egregiously disappointing Conan the Destroyer and far more competently put together than Albert Pyun’s The Sword and the Sorcerer.

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