Daily Archives: August 29, 1997

Kull the Conqueror

Kull the Conqueror

You can keep your dinosaur romps and your cartoon fairy tales; this is the kind of kids’ movie I treasured in my own youth, sexy, pictorial, and unfathomable. Raffaella De Laurentiis produces her third sword and sorcery fantasy based on the works of Robert E. Howard (the two Conan movies of the 80s were the others). Scripted by Charles Edward Pogue and directed by John Nicolella, this one’s a campy hoot by most standards, and for me a highly pleasurable one–in part because everything from the anachronistic rock score to the simplicity of the story line to the lurid, boyish fantasies about evil and women manages to suggest the clunky innocence of Howard’s original tales. The title hero, played by Kevin Sorbo, a sort of Rock Hudson with longer and greasier hair, inadvertently becomes hunky king of Valusia by being in the right place at the right time, but then meets and is lured into marriage by the evil sorceress Akivasha (Tia Carrere) inside of about 30 seconds. Others in the cast include Thomas Ian Griffith, Karina Lombard, Litefoot, and (believe it or not) Harvey Fierstein, and SF writer L. Sprague de Camp is credited as technical adviser.… Read more »

Hoodlum

Hoodlum

Five years after their powerful collaboration on Deep Cover, director Bill Duke (A Rage in Harlem) and Laurence Fishburne pool their talents again, this time on a crime story loosely based on the true-life exploits of Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson (Fishburne), king of the numbers racket in 1934 Harlem–at least until Dutch Schultz (Tim Roth) muscles in on the business while Johnson is away in Sing Sing. Also involved in the intricate power plays are Lucky Luciano (Andy Garcia), Johnson’s partner Stephanie St. Clair (Cicely Tyson), and Thomas Dewey (William Atherton), while the major fictional characters include Johnson’s cousin and best friend (Chi McBride) and his idealistic girlfriend (Vanessa Williams). Clocking in at 142 minutes, this is an ambitious effort to re-create Harlem in the 30s; Chris Brancato’s script supplies a provocative character study of a killer with a Robin Hood streak and only occasionally takes on more than it can handle. The grisly violence (most of it suggested rather than depicted) overwhelms the story in spots, but the interracial politics in divvying up the spoils of a city remain fairly lucid. Duke is a superb director of actors, and, as in Deep Cover, Fishburne manages to suggest a lot with a deft economy of means. … Read more »