release year: 1988
viewing setting: home VHS, 9/26/04
synopsis: A meek college professor in a small town is whisked away to a brutal world of adventure, where he becomes a sword-slinging hero.
impressions: I wish it had been as good as my "synopsis" line suggests. This movie was based on a series of novels about the Counter-Earth, Gor. Without going too deeply into that series, I'll just say that it had its share of good heroic fantasy and action, with a slight sci-fi twist. Whatever you think of the books, be advised: this movie is a bad adaptation of them. Consider the elements that are missing: the main character's sense of destiny, the alien Priest-Kings, the huge fighting birds known as tarns...and any sense of coherent plot. There were times during this movie when I wondered "hey, why again are they running around?" What were supposed to be great battles came across as a few dozen people milling around in loincloths, waving oversized swords. Heck, they had a woman with skinny arms fighting with a sword that most people couldn't lift. There were no elements of fantasy or science fiction here - just scantily-clad people fighting and killing each other.
things to watch for: honestly, I wish I could think of one
something this movie has that no other movie has: a guy getting an arrow through the middle of his neck
acting: This movie is at least partially dubbed. The guy in the lead role tried, but between his whining and his skinny arms, and the dubbing, he wasn't really believable as a hero. The female lead used to be a Playmate, and that was about all she brought to this role. They threw in an old man who was supposed to be a great king, and a dwarf for comedic effect. Oliver Reed played a weird villain who did weird things that made no sense. Jack Palance showed up in the last five minutes and stood around leering menacingly (he's in the sequel, which was filmed at the same time and which I will not be watching.)
final word: As a standalone fantasy movie, it's barely watchable. As an adaptation of a written series, it's quite bad.
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