Big blokes, each seized by some grand costume fetish, hack divots out of each other with big broadswords. Deaths take for ever, years pass in a flash as our muscle-bound hero pursues his Quest for the Father (a villain who, delightfully, transmogrifies into a snake). Conan the Barbarian revives the old epics of Steve Reeves, adds some visual sophistication from the Italian Western, and raises a small cheer as a movie for European rather than American illiterates. Milius brags unnecessarily with egghead movie references, manages to lampoon Californian death cults, indulges in some questionable Triumph of the Will stuff, adds an appalling commentary that cries out for O Welles to sell it, and laces the whole thing with intentionally heavy humour that seems to have been misunderstood. Match verdict: no goals, slow build-up, but much absorbing action off the ball.
Cast and crew
John Milius, Oliver Stone
Arnold Schwarzenegger James Earl Jones Max von Sydow Sandahl Bergman Ben Davidson Cassandra Gaviola