Cousin’s Sister’s Brother

Conan the Destroyer killed the Conan franchise, at least in movie form. Arnold Schwarzenegger pleaded with studio execs to mirror Conan the Barbarian’s tone, they refused, and Schwarzenegger washed his hands of the whole thing. He was in the wrong.

A lot can be said for Conan the Destroyer. It’s brighter, it’s goofier, it’s cornier, and it’s only PG. It lacks the sexual sizzle of the first, and the annoying sidekicks drain the world of its harsh tone.

Give Conan the Destroyer credit for stretching the PG rating

And yet, it’s an easier, more entertaining, casual watch. What it lacks in confidence – or rather, lacks in confidence toward the audience – Conan the Destroyer makes up for with a charmingly breezy fantasy adventure, boasting an even better score from Basil Poledouris and smaller-in-scope but higher-in-number action scenes. Arnold’s form is more imposing, and whether the fanbase likes it or not, Arnold in a loin cloth with this build is what people envision in their minds when they think of the character. It’s also the basis for endless knock-offs, from videogames like Rastan to the small fleet of sword and sorcery genre movies to follow in the ‘80s.

Joined by Wilt Chamberlain, Grace Jones, Mako, and Tracey Walter, Conan (Schwarzenegger) sets off to find an artifact and also restore his lost love’s life. It’s marginal, but focused on that goal, drifting between battles against various tribes, magicians, and eventually, a reborn god that looks absolutely grotesque (if pitifully executed on camera). The entire production is pure ‘80s joy, completely practical, and give Conan the Destroyer credit for stretching the PG rating. While not as brutal, bloodshed happens aplenty. By chance, Conan the Destroyer was released just a few days before the PG-13 became official, the last film of its kind.

Conan the Barbarian played with early historical philosophy and religion; Conan the Destroyer dispenses all of that, dumbed down and lean, becoming an almost indistinct “muscle man stabs people” action movie. With just a splash of moodiness to better pair with the first film, this is the better of the two. But, as it is, the comic retorts and inconsistent tone become an avoidable hazard, cheapening the material. For a casual Saturday matinee though, Conan the Destroyer is among the best.

Video

It’s the color that immediately catches the eye in this transfer. Flesh tones exude a hefty warmth, blood produces a stellar red, and other primaries glow with equal zest. Conan the Destroyer is a far brighter film than the original, giving the saturation more chance to show through.

Glistening contrast doesn’t hit peak nits, but it’s gorgeous regardless. Sun bouncing from Arnold’s skin makes a definite mark. The wizard’s death in the hall of mirrors marks a definite highlight.

Outstanding resolution brings out the fidelity. Sweaty Arnold close-ups show immense texture, every bead of sweat defined. Wide shots draw out the precision in the landscapes, while a crisp grain structure resolves easily under control of this encode.

Audio

In Atmos, the score is given a fantastic extension into the stereos, which compared to the mono, is worth it on its own. Drums carry a little bass too, providing weight. While Conan the Destroyer uses the additional channels sparingly (it’s a center-focused track), the slight jump in dynamics still adds value.

Being from ’84, the dialog flattens, even running a bit coarse. It’s minor aging, and unavoidable. None of this is noted within the booming score.

Extras

Four (!) commentaries lead things. Director Richard Fleischer is first. Actors Olivia d’Abo and Tracey Walter come next. Historians Sarah Douglas, Kim Newman, and Stephen Jones are in third. Fourth is Paul M. Sammon. An isolated score track precedes featurettes, the first of which concerns casting with casting director Johanna Ray. Costume designer John Bloomfield speaks on his work next. Kevin Phipps, art director, compares his experience of working on Dune, followed by this movie. Stunt coordinator Vic Armstrong comes next. A behind-the-scenes look is headed by author John Walsh. Two vintage featurttes are followed by trailers and stills.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Conan the Destroyer
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

Livelier, cornier, and brighter, Conan the Destroyer goes more mainstream as a sequel, and arguably becomes more entertaining.

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User Review
3 (2 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 44 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:


One thought on "Conan the Destroyer 4K UHD Review"

  1. The Phantom Stranger says:

    One of history’s more disappointing sequels. They’ve been trying for years to pull off a King Conan entry with Arnold reprising the role but he’s too old at this point.

    Que sera sera

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