On May 14th, 1982, the movie Conan the Barbarian was released and the world was properly introduced to a movie star whose impact would last for four decades and counting, Arnold Schwarzenegger. While he’d previously had award-winning acting roles (yes, dude won a Golden Globe for acting!), it was his turn as Conan the Barbarian that made him a household name globally.
The fantasy-action movie follows a prototypical gladiator story setup: we meet a group of happy-go-lucky villagers who are quickly overwhelmed by the forces of an oppressive regime. The adults are slaughtered and the children are taken into slavery.
Conan rises through the ranks of slavery to become a gladiator who earns his own freedom and position of standing and even waxes poetic on those who want to know what is best in life.
Conan seeks out to explore the world where he finds an ancient sword, beds a witch (Conan GETS his in this franchise), and befriends a thief-archer hybrid, as one does. His new friend, Subotai, shares different religious beliefs and it leads to a great, respectful conversation about theology.
Conan and Subotai seek out to find Thulsa Doom, the leader of the cult that destroyed Conan’s village, played by the incredible James Earl Jones. En route to Doom, they meet Valeria, who is the much-needed female badass of the film. The trio raids one of Doom’s temples, stealing jewels and causing mayhem. In celebration, Conan beds Valeria, once again getting his.
Their deeds reach the ear of King Osric (RIP Max Von Sydow), who wants the group’s help in rescuing his daughter from the clutches of Thulsa Doom, as she has joined his snake cult. Conan, driven by vengeance and a desire to avenge his family, takes the task solo. This ends poorly as he is nearly done in. His squad rolls up in the nick of time and saves him from the noose.
The trio decides to end things once and for all and sets out on Doom’s temple, very rudely interrupting a cannibalistic-orgy. They slay Doom’s forces but he escapes in snake form. They suffer losses of their own, but they persevere to track down Thulsa Doom, end his tyranny, and return the princess to King Osric.
As you’ve read this I’m sure you’ll agree that Conan the Barbarian is not an all-time cinematic achievement. It is what it is and provides an extremely enjoyable springboard for the acting career of one of the GOATs in the game, Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you enjoy his movies and haven’t seen this one, now is absolutely the chance to rectify that. Otherwise, how will you ever learn the riddle of steel?!?