(Review originally written at 20 September 2008)

This movie might very well be THE ultimate cult classic ever made. It certainly is my favorite. Never have I seen a movie with so much and such great cult value in it.

It's not really an epic movie in terms of having large epic sequences and battles in it but it nevertheless is a movie that takes on some epic proportions, which of course is also not in the least due to Arnold Schwarzenegger epic appearance in this movie. He was in great shape for this movie and it actually was also on of his earlier movie roles. It definitely was the movie that launched him to stardom. Not that his acting is epic in this movie though. It actually quite honestly is laughable bad at times but this only really adds to the movie its cult value.

But what really makes this movie epic to me is its musical score by Basil Poledouris. Throughout his career Poledouris has scored for quite an amount of potentially B-movies (basicly all the scores he did for the John Milius and Paul Verhoeven movies) but his scores always managed to uplifts the movie to a much higher level, making these movies always much more than just a standard B-movie. I really can't imaging how this movie would had been without his musical score. As a matter of fact I don't even think I would had ever watched this movie, had it not been for its music.

With its $20,000,000 budget this was a fairly expenses genre production for its time, also especially when you compare the budget to John Milius' previous projects. It's budget can be seen back in its nicely shot action sequences, it's production values with its settings (it was mostly shot in Spain), costumes and sets. It makes this visual a nice movie to watch. It wasn't a big box office success though and the movie did not became popular until years later, when the movie reached it cult-status.

The story isn't really much special though and it also sort of drags in its middle part, when the movie does not always succeeds at it to bring entertainment. The movie is at its best when it is not trying to be more than it in fact is. The story just does not allow it to make this movie a great perfect classic. When the movie tries to be more serious this becomes painfully too obvious. It's mostly an enjoyable movie when its action kicks in. Luckily the movie is filled with some good old fashioned swords and fist fights, mostly in the beginning and toward the end of the movie. It can be a pretty violent movie at times and it also features its fair share of blood and gore.

Besides Arnold Schwarzenegger the movie also features James Earl Jones in a rare villainous role. I don't think that there at that many movies around in which James Earl Jones plays a villain, except of course from the Star Wars movies, in which he voiced the ultimate villain Darth Vader. It also has Max von Sydow in a real small role and Japanese born actor Mako in a role which made him known and popular, despite the fact that he already had received an Oscar nomination once, 2 decades prior to this movie. It aren't really the actors that make this movie a good watch though but more the characters which they portray.

My number one cult favorite!


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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