The film opens with Maax (Rip Torn, complete with braided hair and, I assume, drunken glare) using some witches to try and usurp the power from King Zed (Rod Loomis) by sacrificing his unborn son. Maax is caught and imprisoned, but one of his witches still manages to get into the King’s chambers and transfer the fetus into a cow, killing his Queen and blinding the King in the process. Once in a secluded forest spot, the witch removes the baby from the animal’s belly, brands his right hand and prepares to sacrifice him. But a wandering farmer (Ben Hammer) stumbles upon the scene and saves the child. As movie rules dictate, if you find an abandoned baby, you must raise it as your own. And you should name him Dar, as in, “Look over dar, a free baby!”
(Tanya Roberts), much to the delight of pre-teen boy audience members worldwide. He even uses Ruh to try and get some action out of the girl (chicks dig being scared by black tigers), but it provides futile. Following a surreal encounter with some bat people (who like Dar because he is, after all, the Beastmaster), Dar makes it to the city just in time for some child sacrificing by Maax. When a second sacrifice is needed (must be “Twofers Tuesdays”), Maax grabs a random kid out of the audience. Surely it is the parent's fault as who brings their kid to a sacrifice? Dar uses Sharak to sweep the frightened child away into the sky. Maax, however, proves his political worth by spinning that miscue into a “see, the Gods are really pissed” moment. George W. Bush would be proud.
After returning the child to their family, Dar encounters warrior Seth (John Amos) and his young charge Tal (Josh Milrad). Hmmm, a big black man in a leather get up travelling alone with a kid would usually arouse my suspicion. Damn it, did I say arouse? Ah, forget it. Anyway, Seth reveals that Tal is the rightful heir to the throne and that Kiri is Tal’s cousin. So, yes, this means Dar is Tal’s older brother and that he was putting the moves on his cousin Kari. Ha, this boy has got some Luke Skywalker in him. This trio decides to team up and rescue King Zed from his prison, which they do with relative ease. But Zed turns out to be a total bummer and calls Dar “a freak.” Thanks, dad! So Dar splits but – per sword & sorcery cliché # 291 – returns when the meek villagers need him to fight in the big battle.
mugshot two decades later. The seeing eyeball ring also disturbed me, especially when it gets a fiery ember shoved into it. In addition, the “death guards” are scary, the bat people are freaky, and the Jun leader (thankfully masked the entire time) is a really ominous Darth Vader like character.
On the technical side, the film boasts a super score, great cinematography and fine acting from the entire cast. The climactic fight is well staged and actually thrilling (watch for a huge explosion that looks VERY dangerous). Singer, in his first major role, definitely looks the part and has the acting ability to back it up (something Schwarzenegger lacked). The film also benefitted from getting Tanya Roberts fresh off of her CHARLIE’S ANGELS replacement gig. And, in perhaps their greatest coup, she had no qualms being nude onscreen (again, how did this get a PG rating?). You're welcome: