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It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie

Deathstalker IV: Match of Titans (1990)

[3.0 turkeys]

This movie, hopefully the last in the Deathstalker series, is a virtual remake of the first one as far as the general plot line goes. In fact, they even go so far as to recycle some scenes from the first movie in this film. And while this movie isn't nearly as inept and ludicrous as the first one, it still doesn't manage to include such esoteric film elements as "plot" and "characterization."

We open with a narration about how the world is in chaos and some such, and how Deathstalker is some great force for order. During the clips that run during the narration, we get to see a lot of bad guys kill people. My favorite scene is one in which a guy gets two arrows in the back, and he whips around only to get another arrow in the chest before finally realizing he's dead.

This movie also carries on the tried and true fantasy movie convention of the grunting bad guys. Just about every bad guy in the opening clip fest is grunting loudly and usually running like a hunchback as well. If I lived in any of these generic fantasy movie worlds, I'd run away as soon as I heard a person grunt or saw them walking with a stooped posture.

After the opening clip fest finally ends, we see Deathstalker (played again by Rick Hill, from the first movie) riding his horse. He comes upon a caravan that has been sacked and looted, and a woman (whom he saves from grunting bad guys who look like the cowardly lion) who was travelling with them. Deathstalker shoots one of the bad guys right between the eyes with an arrow, but amazingly he doesn't bleed. He does die, however.

Deathstalker agrees to take the woman back to her village. They ride for a bit, and Deathstalker says there is supposed to be a village somewhere around, and he'd better stop and ask "these men" for directions. "That's the village where I live," says the woman. It turns out her village consists of three men sitting on the banks of a river. So Deathstalker reunites this woman with her father and tells them the story of the time he and another warrior killed a bunch of guys. Turns out they got their swords switched, and Deathstalker would like his magic sword back. During this scene and this scene only, Deathstalker seems to be trying to talk with a Scottish accent. I really don't understand it, unless he just saw a Sean Connery movie and was inspired that day on the set.

It turns out that "Kana" (who is just a random woman who lives in a castle, apparently -- she's never given a title or anything) is having her warriors capture other warriors for unknown reasons.

Anyway, Deathstalker moves on and meets up with Vaniat, a muscle-bound meathead who sort of looks like Slater from Saved by the Bell. Vaniat and Deathstalker travel together for no good reason and come upon yet another battle, being fought by two women against more grunting, hunched over bad guys. Deathstalker takes out the bad guys in a bunch of pathetic fight scenes but not in time to save both of the women -- one of them has died, unfortunately. Fortunately, it wasn't the hot blonde.

The bad guys had chased the women into a cave, and Deathstalker had followed them in and killed the bad guys. But I guess he forgot one, because suddenly one grunting bad guy runs out of the cave and manages to trigger a cave in (??) to trap Deathstalker and the surviving woman inside. The filmmakers, however, obviously didn't think this little trap was even worthy of Deathstalker's supreme talents, because they don't even bother showing how he gets out of the cave -- in the next scene, Deathstalker and Blondie are riding towards Kara's castle! Now what the heck was the point of the cave in if they aren't even going to bother to show them getting out? For that matter, why even leave one of the badguys alive to trigger the cave in? Why even make a movie if you're not going to bother to follow up on any of the plot developments?

Moving along -- it turns out Blondie and her sister were going to fight in the big tournament that Kana is holding at her castle. Well, actually Blondie's sister was going to fight, but now that she's dead, Blondie will have to fight instead. Deathstalker asks her what she is fighting for. "Whatever the prizes are," she replies. Oh, that's just a wonderful reason to have to fight.

One of Deathstalker's buddies (a huge guy with the deepest voice I've ever heard) has bet his horse that Deathstalker can kill one of the cowardly lion guys. So Deathstalker has another amazingly bad fight scene while Blondie does some mud wrestling. (Don't ask.)

Kana eventually shows up, says some stuff, and leaves. Later that night, she inexplicably tries to seduce Deathstalker. "I came for your power," she says. "That's what I'm here for," Deathstalker says. What the heck was that supposed to mean? Finally, Kana screams, "Do not tell me what to do!" even though no one present has tried to do any such thing, and runs out. What the heck? Blondie comes back and complains about Deathstalker and Kana being together. Deathstalker convinces her that she's really upset about something else, so she says, "Why are there guards patroling the halls?" Her reasoning is that since this is only a tournament, everyone should have totally free reign of the castle. Sure.

Next morning, we get a random bath scene, so we can get the obligatory topless women parading around. In fact, there is one particular woman who's only duty in this film is to stroll casually through the outdoor scenes topless. I saw her at least twice, and I wouldn't be surprised if she was there more than that.

Finally, we get to the actual tournament. Unfortunately, most of the first part of the tournament is just recycled footage of the tournament from the first movie. It does, however, include my absolute favorite bad fight scene, in which a huge guy bonks a little guy on the head with a massive maul and then proceeds to pound him into the ground until nothing is left but a red stain and some rags.

Whereas the first tournament was strictly men only, this tournament is a little more progresseve -- it's co-ed. The women fight each other, and if you can believe it, their fights are even slower and more boring than the men's!

Deathstalker has his first tournament fight against Vaniat. Within the first two seconds of the battle, Deathstalker turns his back on his opponent. In any real fight, he'd have been dead right there. Of course, he comes back (with much pointless sword flourishing) and knocks Vaniat down, holding him at sword point. "I don't really want to kill you," says Deathstalker. "I don't really want to die," says Vaniat. Gee, I wonder where they got the idea for that line. Frankly, the version in The Princess Bride is much better.

Later that night, Deathstalker wanders around the castle. He comes upon some frolicking women, who are in this scene only to meet the movie's quota of bare breasts. He wanders a little farther and stumbles upon the brothel fight scene from the first movie. I kid you not -- they just edited the thing in there for no reason. We even get a brief glimpse of Chachi, which evens up the tally of Chachinated vs. De-Chacinated Deathstalker movies at two each. All this time, Kana is watching Deathstalker wander around via her magic mirror, but she never does anything about it.

Deathstalker goes back to his room to talk to Blondie. He takes his shirt and throws it on an outcropping above the door, as if he fears it is a video camera or something. It turns out later that the magic mirror thing acts a lot like a closed-circuit security system, so his fears are probably not unfounded.

Deathstalker and Blondie reason that Kana has brought all the warriors for two hundred miles around to her castle in order to keep them busy and pick them off one by one. Huh? Why is she bothering to have all of these warriors (some of which she apparently forcibly dragged here herself) come to her castle and fight each other if all she wants is for them to die? Why not just send her troops out to kill them? Who knows.

Anyway, Deathstalker and Blondie enlist Vaniat's help. They need him to go seduce Kana so he can find the antidote for the poison wine she's using to kill off all the warriors. They give Vaniat an etiquette lesson and send him out on his task.

During the tournament fighting that day, Deathstalker meanders around the castle some more and comes upon a guy who has been turned to stone. He has to kill a guard to get away, and when he comes back to Blondie, he says "I had to kill a guard -- they're on to us now." Heck, Kana has seen Deathstalker wandering around since pretty much the beginning and hasn't done anything yet -- what makes him think this is going to cause any trouble?

That night, Vaniat and Kana sit together in the big party that is going on. I guess this is the brothel again, although why the woman who apparently owns the castle sits in the brothel (or why she even has a brothel full of women in the first place) is a mystery to me. The inevitable brothel fight breaks out, just to distract the viewer from the fact that none of this has anything to do with the "plot."

Deathstalker is still intent on finding out where all the warriors are going. Wait a minute -- he already knows that Kana is poisoning them, what else does he want to know? "There's only one place she could be keeping them," Blondie says. "How do you know?" Deathstalker asks. "I've been here before," she says. It turns out that Blondie is actually a princess or something, and she actually lived in this castle before Kana came along and killed her parents. Come on! Poor Deathstalker has been bumbling around this castle the entire movie, and the whole time Blondie could have told him where to find what he was looking for??

Blondie leads Deathstalker to some secret chambers. They walk down a hall, and Deathstalker suddenly decides that Blondie should go back to the room. The camera jumps between the two of them and some random other points in the hall while they talk, making me think that something was actually going to happen. Nothing does, however, so I guess the jump cuts were just to distract us from the stupid conversation.

Deathstalker stumbles into a room where a bunch more stone guys are lying around. I guess the wine not only kills them, it also turns them to stone. Or something. Kana's henchman comes down and locks him in. He informs Deathstalker that Kana has his magic sword (remember that?), and they want to know the secret. "The secret is, there is no secret," Deathstalker says. Oh great. What a wonderful secret. The stone guys come to life, and, after a really strange scene that I can't even begin to describe, Deathstalker gets out of the room. However, he stumbles right into more of Kana's men, and one of the stone guys gets out of the room and clocks him over the head with a stone forearm, knocking him out.

Meanwhile, Vaniat has managed to find the antidote to the poison wine. He's taken it back to Blondie with news that Kana has captured Deathstalker. Blondie rushes down to the dungeon where he's being held and feeds him some of the antidote (Kana has already been down to feed Deathstalker the wine.) Boy, it's a good thing nobody thought to guard the prisoner.

Suddenly, it's the next day, the final day of the tournament. Vaniat is passing out the antidote to everyone who is still left, and he asks Blondie how Deathstalker is. She just sort of grunts and shrugs her shoulders. Apparently she didn't even bother to untie the guy or anything.

Kana goes to address her army of stone guys while Deathstalker looks on from the skylight. I guess he got out of the dungeon, anyway. It turns out that Kana intends to turn everyone into stone or something -- she says she's going to cast a spell. I'm really confused at this point as to what this wine was supposed to have done.

Kana rushes outside, calls off the tournament, and has all the warriors stand conveniently in the middle of the courtyard. Then the stone guys waddle out, and everyone starts fighting. Kana's henchman holds a box with a flame in it in front of Kana, and she tries to cast her spell, whatever that might be. But Deathstalker comes along and knocks the box out of the henchman's hand.

Deathstalker and the henchman end up fighting, with Deathstalker holding his sword with the pommel upwards and the blade down, like he's going to stab someone the whole time. This extremely awkward fighting style seems to really work well for him, as he ends up stabbing the henchman through the chest. As the henchman falls, you can see the sword fall away (he was only holding it under his arm!).

Deathstalker then goes to confront Kana. He gets his magic sword back and sets some stuff on fire with it. Kana drinks some wine for no reason, and Deathstalker tells her that she's gone and doomed herself, because she didn't take the antidote first. Come on -- are you trying to convince me that she wouldn't notice that she'd forgotten to take the antidote (and worse yet, it'd all been stolen from her anyway, by Vaniat)? Sure...sure....

But Kana isn't beaten yet! Oh no, she jumps up on her bed, grabs a bouquet of flowers (?!?) and causes some magic fire to spring up around the bed. "So you want to play with fire? All right," Deathstalker says and slowly swings his sword over the flames. This causes Kana's flowers to burst into flames, and she dies. WHAT? Oh, forget it. Nothing else in this movie has made sense -- why should this?

At this point, the movie mercifully ends, with everyone (except me) apparently living happily ever after. Although it was filled with idiocy and insanity, this movie was still too slow and boring to earn more than three turkeys. A worthy bad movie in its own right, but it just doesn't compare to the first entry in the series.

Scene to watch for: Deathstalker being choked out.

Best line: "Saps your vital juices."

Things that make you go "Huh?": Why Deathstalker keeps bringing the tip of his sword up behind his shoulder.

View this movie's entry at the Internet Movie Database.

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