Originally written for The Occidental.
Tired of studying? Feeling stressed about the year already? Looking to get away from it all? Have I got the film for you: Kull the Conqueror, still in theatres (barely). This movie has a wonderful campy charm that makes it the perfect break from the intellectual efforts of college life. It’s got everything a film of this sort needs: experienced actors (Kevin Sorbo, known for Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, and Tia Carrere, who seems to have made a career of tongue-in-cheek films), lots of sword fights, a straightforward plot, a loud, dramatic soundtrack, and good special effects. If you enjoy movies like Showdown in Little Tokyo, Mortal Kombat, and Conan the Barbarian, you’ll love Kull the conqueror
The film opens with a narrated description of the past — a demon kingdom overthrown by a benevolent warrior-god, humanity saved from an eternity of darkness, etc. The rest of the plot is equally simple: our barbarian hero becomes king through his good heart and good fighting, is bewitched by a resurrected demon sorceress, dethroned by her at the head of a group of traitorous villains, and must find a secret weapon hidden in a far away land to save his kingdom from eternal hell-on-earth. Plain, simple, and with plenty of room for all the necessary fights and moments of drama.
Every actor in this film relishes his or her part. With the possible exception of the good-girl love interest (who is usually supposed to be serious anyway), each and every character is over the top. Carrere, as Akivasha, the villainess, hisses and spits when she’s not doing the sultry and seductive bad-girl routine; Sorbo is charmingly dense while being heroic to the core as Kull; and the cast of minor characters includes the requisite crooked friend (watch for the actor who played Jeff Goldblum’s hoarse boss in Independence Day), selfless priest, evil wizard (hey, someone had to bring the sorceress back, right?), and scheming swordsman villain. The ability of the actors to overplay without being ludicrous is vital to this breed of film — and they have it here in abundance.
Like the supporting cast, all of the secondary elements are right on key. From the beginning, the film is filled with fighting — sword against sword, sward against ax, sword against magic, sword against torch, you name it. Sorbo has plenty of experience with this sort of thing, and the fights are well-choreographed to be fun but not too long. The special effects are wonderful — surprisingly so. Computer graphics are used just enough to wow the audience, no more. Unlike Spawn, which seemed to have a terror of anything other than Computer Generated Images (CGI), Kull uses every method at its disposal, from CGI to animatronics, and very well at that. The music, too, fits the campy anything-goes atmosphere, ranging from solemn pseudo-Gregorian chant to roaring electric guitar.
So, altogether we have a film that is very strong in all departments one looks for in any film — a plot that fits the type of movie, acting to match the plot, and effects. What more could you ask for? And if you miss it while it’s in the theatres, you can always catch it on video as a break from working your brain.