Kull the Conqueror (1997)

kull the conqueror poster 1997 movie kevin sorbo
3.0 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 3/10

Not much

Cheap looking and feels like a Conan knock-off instead of quasi-sequel-prequel

Movie Info

Movie Name: Kull the Conqueror

Studio: Universal Pictures

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): August 29, 1997

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

kull the conqueror kevin sorbo battle axe

Oh, trusty battle axe…should I hang you up for the sword?

Kull (Kevin Sorbo) is a warrior of old Atlantis.  When he finds himself accidentally anointed king of Valusia, Kull immediately finds himself the political target of his enemies.  Taligaro (Thomas Ian Griffith) and his people intend to stop Kull and resurrect Akivasha (Tia Carrere) to stop Kull’s leadership.  Kull, a former harem girl named Zareta (Karina Lombard), and Ascalante (Gary “Litefoot” Davis) must stop the coup and maintain the thrown of Valusia…but can a barbarian ever rule?

Directed by John Nicolella, Kull the Conqueror is a sword and sorcery fantasy epic.  The film adapts serialized Robert E. Howard Conan the Barbarian story The Hour of the Dragon (Weird Tales December 1935-April 1936) and combines it with the Kull character who first appeared in Weird Tales (August 1929).  The film was released to negative reviews.

Kull the Conqueror was never supposed to exist.  The film was original conceived as the third film in the Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan the Barbarian series with an older and wiser Conan becoming a king as those films predicted.  Schwarzenegger rejected returning to the role and Sorbo didn’t want to play Conan…and Kull was born.

kull the conqueror tia carrere akivasha

Are we supposed to laugh every time she does anything?

The story is a very generic barbarian movie.  You have lots of sword play, evil witches, and turncoats.  The film has a largely city setting until the characters go on an adventure to claim the Breath of Valka.  This should have been an opportunity to increase the adventure, face different adversaries, or expand the characters…unfortunately, Kull the Conqueror fails at this.  It feels like filler to round out the movie’s hour and a half runtime.

Kevin Sorbo is fine for small screen adventures like Hercules:  The Legendary Journeys where he is allowed to be humorous, but the tone doesn’t work here in the film.  He does what he can with the script, but even Schwarzenegger gives more life to his Conan character.  Tia Carrere hams up her role as Akivasha, but Karina Lombard’s Zareta character doesn’t really work either.  Thomas Ian Griffith does get the smarmy bad guy down, but the movie needed a villain that more dynamic.  The movie has a weird “dramatic” role by Harvey Fierstein as a slaver that held Kull.

kull the conqueror demon ending

Give me a kiss!

Though dated, Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer were filled with dynamic locations and impressive sets for the budget.  Kull the Conqueror looks cheap.  Much like his TV series Hercules, the movie feels like it was made-for-TV instead of a big adventure film for the 1990s.  The movie tries to make the movie more “extreme” by occasionally adding rock music, but the Conan soundtrack was much more effective…and the ending demon is this really bad blend of puppet and CGI.

Kull the Conqueror is a dull film that only benefits from being rather short.  This is too bad because I always though Kull was an interesting parallel to Conan.  The movie treats Kull and Conan as interchangeable characters and that isn’t fair to either of them.  Kull might round out the Conan movies as a trilogy, but it feels like an even cheaper knock-off.

Related Links:

Conan the Barbarian (1982)

Conan the Destroyer (1984)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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