Kull the Conqueror (1997) – Review

1 Star

It has long been rumored that the screenplay for what would become Kull the Conqueror was originally drafted as a third chapter to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Conan series. Apparently, unsatisfied with the writing Arnold turned down the role. The producers were at least deft enough to understand-No Schwarzenegger, No Conan. So, they retooled the main character into another Robert E. Howard literary character Kull of Atlantis, and cast television’s Hercules, Kevin Sorbo, in the lead role. This is important because in order to dissect a disaster, one must acquaint themselves with all the minor mishaps on the path to destruction. In the case of Kull, the screenplay is sophomoric, the swordplay is worse than some of the work in Sorbo’s Hercules series, and the entire movie looks made-for-TV. Director John Nicolella (props for being a creator on Miami Vice) is out of his depth. The direction is non-existent as tone and blocking are at high school film student levels.

After escaping five years of slavery, Kull (Kevin Sorbo) of the lost city of Atlantis, finds himself in the land of the fantastical kingdom of Valusia. By opportune situation, Kull is forced to strike down the crazed power-mad King Borna (Sven-Ole Thorsen). This act brings the crown and grants him the title of King Kull. Settling into his new-found royalty, Kull begins a highly contested move to end slavery and bring equality to the realm.

These acts of tolerance greatly trouble Gen. Taligaro (Thomas Ian Griffith) and the members of the royal court. A coup is set in motion, Taligaro’s dabbling with a wizard brings out the resurrection of an ancient witch, Akivasha (Tia Carrere). The centuries old demon has taken the form of a beautiful woman to seduce and eventually kill the new monarch, while gaining the throne for herself.

Before Gladiator reinvigorated it and before Lord of the Rings legitimized it, the ‘sword/sandals fantasy’ epic was a dumping ground for B-movie producers. After Schwarzenegger left the sub-genre was marred by hokey product like Kull. Sorbo strains to carry the movie on his broad shoulders, while director John Nicolella commits the deadly errors of allowing his star to look foolish in a bad wig/hairstyle and depending on obvious green screen effects. Kull the Conqueror torpedoed any aspirations of a franchise or other leading man roles for Kevin Sorbo.

Director: John Nicolella
Stars:Kevin Sorbo, Tia Carrere, Thomas Ian Griffith

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