August 30, 1997 -- "Kull, The Conqueror" is the third of the main pulp fiction characters created by the 1930s writer Robert E. Howard, brought to the screen. The others are "Conan the Barbarian" and "Red Sonja." The last two characters, of course, were portrayed in films by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
This film stars Kevin Sorbo as Kull, a character identical to Conan. Sorbo, of course, stars as Hercules in the popular syndicated television show, so he is right at home in this tongue-in-cheek sword-and-sorcery stuff.
Thankfully, this film is not as dark as Howard's stories were (he committed suicide), but it does have Howard's anti-intellectual view that civilization is corrupt and that society can only be rescued from that corruption by the virtues of the barbarian.
In a very typical Howard plot, Kull, a barbarian, becomes King of a corrupt empire (after the king has killed his own sons to make sure there is no fight over succession), only to be tricked out of his crown by an enchantress. He must go to a faraway island to bring back magic to prevent the kingdom from falling under her evil spell.
The typical no-emotion action hero would go through the film on a single note, but Sorbo is better than that. His performance is surprisingly subtle and well-rounded. He is a much better actor than Schwarzenegger, but that isn't saying much. If he is smart picking his future roles he will have a very successful future in the movies. Tia Carrere ("Wayne's World") is good as the evil Akivasha and Karina Lombard is effective as Zareta, the love interest.
The action sequences and the special effects are adequate and the sound track sounds like a rock and roll music video, but there are some nice humorous touches along the way. It is not a bad film, but it isn't quite a good one either. It rates a C+.
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