Kull the Conqueror (1997) Review

Kevin Sorbo slams evil as Kull, the Conqueror, a fearless barbarian warrior, who through skill and bravery, becomes king. Worshiped by his subjects for his mercy, adored by the beautiful fortuneteller Zareta for his valour, Kull quickly becomes the mortal enemy of the forces of darkness, led by the villainous Akivasha.

Runtime: 96 minutes
Director: John Nicolella
Starring: Kevin Sorbo, Tia Carrere, Karina Lombard
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Final Score: 7/10


Quick Review

A fun sword and sorcery adventure with plenty of action, romance, and magic. The characters are not the best and some of the plot doesn’t make sense, but the special effects are great, and the action scenes are good.

Spoilers Ahead!

Kull the Conqueror is fun. If that’s all you want from a movie you can stop reading now. If you want a unique story with complex characters, then you’ll have to look somewhere else. Plot is one of the weaker points of the movie. It doesn’t challenge your mind with twists or surprises, and some parts of the plot don’t make sense. The first couple of scenes set up the rest of the movie and they are not great. Kull is called the conqueror, yet he doesn’t conqueror anything. Running into a throne room and killing the king who then turns around and names you king is not conquering. Not to mention the fact that he shouldn’t have been able to get into the throne room in the first place. After those scenes the movie moves onto a standard fantasy plot that works well.

One aspect of sword and sorcery is that the characters are developed over multiple stories. Not much can be done in a single movie to replicate that. This leaves the characters one dimensional. Kull is the classic sword and sorcery hero: Buff and arrogant with just a hint of morality. He throws out one liners and defies the villains with single minded determination. The biggest problem with Kull’s character is the fact that he spent time as a slave, yet it’s not until Zareta tells him why she is rejecting him that he realizes that maybe, just maybe, slavery is bad. This is made worse when that’s all the development he gets the entire movie. He does spend the rest of the movie trying to free the slaves, but it feels cheap with his quick turnaround. This problem doesn’t affect anyone else because they don’t get any development. They aren’t hollow characters, and they’re fun to watch interacting with Kull, but the story doesn’t change them. This is the biggest problem with a story that only takes place over a couple of days.

Kull has a bigger budget than most fantasy movies and it shows. The biggest difference that will be noticed is the special effects. They’re good. Considering the time, they stand up well. There is fire, ice, a strange orc creature; they don’t shy away from using effects, yet there are few moments where it fails. And the demon at the end of the movie is one of the most terrifying things ever. Props to the person who designed that. The budget also helped with sets and locations. Whether you like the designs or not, they look good.

The movie keeps a nice tone throughout. It never becomes silly or over the top, but it isn’t super serious either. Case in point: the music for the big fight scenes is heavy metal, and it’s awesome. Some of the dialogue gets close to being cheesy, but not many lines are straight up jokes. The only character who can’t be taken completely seriously would be Akivasha. She is such a cliché villain and some of her lines are cheesy. The worst, or the best, is when she quotes Vader: “I am altering our pact, pray I don’t alter it any further.” But these moments are few and don’t change the overall tone. It’s just a fun movie to watch.


Point breakdown

Tone: 1.5/2 – A few bad lines and some cliché elements
Characters: 1/2 – Characters aren’t deep, but they aren’t cardboard either
Conflict: 1/2 – The action is great even if the characters aren’t
Special Effects: 1.5/2 – Great with just a few bumps
Sets/Costumes: 2/2 – Nothing wrong here

One thought on “Kull the Conqueror (1997) Review

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