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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Barbarian Queen (1985)

(aka: Queen of the Naked Steel)



Reviews and Comments

The formula in this badly acted magic-less fantasy film becomes clear right from the open scene. Woman gets raped. Woman kills at least five guys. Repeat. The movie starts with two women on a rampage of revenge; by the midpoint there are five; by the end there are fewer. But it doesn't really matter who gets killed off and who doesn't. When the badguy meets his end, there's a moment where it looks like one of the women might die with him. I marveled at how little I cared one way or the other.

The character development in this story -- and I feel very foolish talking about "character development" here -- is limited to this: all the female characters are strong, and all the male characters are evil, except for one bald guy whose primary character attribute is to say, "We're not ready to fight." This character has an argument with another about whether it's time for an open rebellion against their leader, and "we're not ready" is the only reason he ever provides for why they should wait. When he finally concedes, he does it with a certain half-smile as if he were finally agreeing to let his children buy a popsicle from an ice cream truck.

And what of this rebellion? Why do they want to rebel? Sure, their ruler has (apparently) ordered the razing of outlying tribal villages, but what's that got to do with his citizens? Who is this leader anyway, and under what circumstances did he come to power? Why is he out killing people? This movie doesn't answer any questions at all but instead relies upon the viewer's knowledge of archetypal stories to get by. Even then, it's often incomprehensible to the point where, I swear, the badguys appeared to be intimately involved in the selection of the men who would participate in the goodguys' rebellion. They even seemed to know when it would take place (Sunday), which made it all the less understandable when the rebellion starts and the surprise twist is that the badguys were ready for them.

The film's single asset is that its running time is just 71 minutes. It felt a lot longer.

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