1984 Universal Studios
After the success of Conan the Barbarian Dino Delaurentiis gave the go ahead for a sequel. Richard Fleischer was brought in to direct this time around and it was decided to tone down the violence in order to broaden the audience and bring in more money. It’s never a good sign when changes are made simply to bring in more money and this movie is no exception.
To be blunt this movie really pisses me off. In tone its closer to the original stories by Robert E. Howard but in quality it’s all over the place. This is more adventurous than the first movie and nowhere near as serious and ponderous however it seems like they couldn’t decide what they wanted to do.
When first screened this movie received an R rating and more cuts were made to get a PG rating. This gives the movie a schizophrenic feel to it. At times there is blood flying during the battle scenes but most of the time its cut out. The music by Basil Poledouris is toned down to the point where it never reaches the dramatic highs of his score for the first movie. To me that pretty much describes the whole movie, there are some good moments but every time it seems a high point in the story or action is going to be reached the momentum crashes to a halt.
As for the story Conan the Destroyer tells the tale of Conan being bewitched by the evil Queen Taramis who wants Conan to protect her niece Jehnna on a quest to retrieve a magical horn that will revive the dreaming god and grant her wish of power and a lifetime supply of cheese. Okay I made up that bit about the cheese.
The cast is good but the character of Subotai is gone and in his place is Tracey Walter as the comedic and cowardly Malek. I agree that Gerry Lopez isn’t the greatest actor but his character was far more interesting than the generic Malek. I have nothing against Tracey Walter but the character just doesn’t work. Mako returns as the wizard, now named Akiro, but is toned down just like everything else. He is not crazy at all in this movie and is actually the voice of reason. Grace Jones livens up the movie as Zula and Olivia d’Abo as Jehnna is just plain scrumptious. Like the first movie the main villain is not that interesting. Sarah Douglas is fine in the role of Queen Taramis but the role just isn’t that captivating. Wilt Chamberlain is pretty good as Bombaata, the right hand man of Taramis, who has been charged with protecting the virginity of princess Jehnna.
I can still remember the disappointment I felt after seeing this for the first time. It’s not a terrible movie but it’s not a great one either. I would love to see the original cut with the Taramis scenes and more violent action but I think I have a better chance of getting struck by lightning.
Again, like the first movie, the production design is terrific. The locations are well chosen as well.
Conan is far more articulate in this movie.
They actually ride horses instead of running around everywhere.
The not so good:
The toned down violence,
The music score, while good, never reaches the level of greatness of the first movie.
Malek is simply an unneeded character.
The camel bashing scene. Why does Malek remember Conan bashing the camel? Did Conan bash a different camel than the one in the first movie and was Malek there to witness it? Are camels easy to recognize?
The Dagoth monster is silly looking. Not Carlo Rambaldi’s best work.
Random thoughts and observations:
Even though this movie received mixed reviews the plan to make more money worked. Conan the Destroyer made about ten million dollars more than the first movie did worldwide.
In the beginning Taramis sacrifices quite a few of her soldiers attempting to capture Conan and Malek. After Conan slaughters most of them she easily bewitches him by making him think she can bring back Valeria. Why didn’t she just do that in the first place and spare her men? What an idiot.