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Conan The Barbarian (1982)

DVD Cover (Universal Collector's Edition)
Movie Connections:
Conan The Barbarian
> Conan The Barbarian (1982)
> Conan The Destroyer (1984)
> Conan The Barbarian (2011)
> Winter Is Cumming: A Game Of Bones (2016)
Genres:
Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Fantasy Adventure, Sword-And-Sorcery
Director:
John Milius John Milius
Starring:
Arnold Schwarzenegger Arnold Schwarzenegger
James Earl Jones James Earl Jones
Max von Sydow Max von Sydow
Sandahl Bergman Sandahl Bergman
Ben Davidson Ben Davidson

7.0 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: February 23, 2005
Starting out our epic movie, we find a young child fishing a short distance from his tribes home. As he's fishing, he notices a group of soldiers coming towards him and his home on horses, so of course, the kid jumps up and runs back home to his parents. When the soldiers arrive at the village, they begin murdering all of the men and women, until nobody is left alive except for this young child, his mother, and a number of other children. The child is in a state of shock due to having watched his father die, but his mother picks up a sword and plans to defend him. Things seem to be working out for the better, until Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones), the leader of the group, picks up a sword and beheads her in front of her child. Doom then has his men round up all of the children, chains them together, and sends them to the south to work as slaves. Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger), the young child, works on a device known as The Wheel Of Pain until he becomes an adult. As a result of all of the work he has put in on this wheel, he's quite the muscular fellow, so the slave-drivers decide to put him to work as a gladiator for their own amusement. Conan dominates everyone who is placed in front of him, so it's decided that he should be placed in some further training to hone his skills... after all, someone of this caliber come come in handy when a war rolls around. Thanks to all of the training he receives, Conan becomes quite the master with a sword, and is eventually set free... however, he hasn't forgotten about Doom, the man who murdered his family and friends.

Conan sets out on his quest to gain his vengeance on Doom, and his first stop after becoming a free man is a small town where he hopes to get some food and rest. In this town, Conan meets up with two thieves... Subotai (Gerry Lopez), a master with the bow-and-arrow, and Valeria (Sandahl Bergman), the self-appointed queen of the thieves. Conan gets a bit sidetracked in his quest as the three decide to team up in order to get rich in the art of thieving, and he even starts to build a relationship with Valeria... however, the good times come to a halt when they are caught with stolen property by the town guards. They are sent before King Osric (Max Von Sydow), who brushes aside their crimes when he sees the three people in front of him. You see, he explains, his princess daughter (Valerie Quennessen) has joined forces with Doom and plans to give her life for him. Osric doesn't want this to happen, so he offers all of his riches to this group if they can rescue his daughter for him. Subotai and Valeria aren't too keen on the idea due to the army that Doom has behind him, but this sets Conan back on his quest for vengeance, and a movie begins.

Epic is almost an understatement for this movie. It runs for a bit over two hours, but it really starts to feel like three or four have passed once all of the subplots, twists, and quests have wrapped up and the credits begin to roll. The above plot outline only covers the first half hour of the two total hours, and doesn't cover even a quarter of the subplots and missions that pop up throughout. Surprisingly though, it never become boring or repetitive throughout. While there is one main goal of the movie (kill Doom), the plentiful side-adventures keep the movie moving along, and the variety that is found there is what really keeps the movie entertaining from start to finish. Personally, I was a fan of the Conan magazines back in my younger days, and I was quite surprised at how faithful this movie adaptation was to the source. It wasn't a one-hundred percent accurate portrait of the character, but it was damned close, especially when compared to other print-to-film characters that have come along in recent times. The huge battle scenes are kept intact, plenty of nude or scantily-clad women are provided in ample amounts, the blood flows heavily, and the token monsters pop up in a few scenes. Any one who was a fan of Conan (either the comic or the magazine) would definitely be well-advised to check this movie out if they haven't already, though the sequel is a bit of a different story.

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the lead role of Conan, and pulls out a great performance. Now, by saying that he was great, I'm not saying that he's up there with the best in terms of acting ability. There's a fair number of scenes where he opened his mouth to speak and really came off as being cheesy (this was early in his acting career, by the way). However, the goodness comes from the fact that, when he's quiet at least, he really fits in with the character of Conan well... hell, he even looks like him for the most part. There's no comedic one-liners delivered by him (not a one, if you can believe that), and with the exception of a few of the aforementioned scenes, he really comes off nicely as the stoic, vengeful warrior. Gerry Lopez (Subotai) was decent enough in his role, though he certainly wasn't anything to brag about. Master thief and love-interest of Conan Sandahl Bergman (Valeria) was quite a bit better in her role. She didn't look out of place at all during either the love scenes or the battle scenes, and did a damned fine job when it came time to pick up a sword and slash through a couple of opposing warriors. Can't beat that, no sir.

Overall, this one is definitely worth a viewing if you're a fan of action-fantasy films. The source material is handled with respect, the movie moves along at a nice pace and stays interesting until the credits, and the acting is solid throughout. 8/10.
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