Gunan, King of the Barbarians (1982)

Cool poster. Terrible movie. First off, I don’t think the main character actually ends up called Gunan. Instead, it sounds like everyone is talking about his name being Zukahn or Zhukan or something beginning with a ‘Z’. Second, he doesn’t end up the king of anything. He kills a guy that’s a warlord, but there is no being a royal dude sitting on a throne in this movie. Instead, it mainly consists of one muscular dude hitting other dudes in bad wigs with a blunt sword in slow motion while a wannabe Conan the Barbarian soundtrack wails in the background. Ah, the glories of Italian fantasy schlock cinema. They should have kept the alternate title, The Invincible Barbarian. Yeah, that sounds much better.

There’s a prophecy, straight out of One Million Years B.C., that a warrior will be born who kills an evil warlord with a special sword or some such nonsense. We know it came from One Million Years B.C. because that’s where they stole the footage from. Since evil warlord and fat guy in a smock Nuriak figures this is about him, he decides to kill the kid who is supposed to be the Zukahn/Gunan/whosiwhatsits of said prophecy. Unfortunately, it turns out that twins were born. These twins escape and are raised by a troupe of magical women living on the beach called the Kuniat. Eventually Gunan’s brother gets killed, and he goes after Nuriak for some sweet revenge, while also taking a lady named Lenni as his mate after one quick and short make out session on the beach. The leader of the Kuniat also wants a sweet make out session, but Gunan’s not into her, so she hands over Lenni and Gunan but then realizes she’s being dumb. The Kuniat help Gunan, and he fake disembowels Nuriak and then rides off with Lenni and his magic sword, which is actually Excalibur. That wasn’t a joke, that’s seriously in the movie.

Well, besides all the ridiculousness of what I just said, how is it? It’s…bad. Like awful. Every fight scene comes replete with slow motion. Like Gunan running down a hill uses slow motion. At least a third of this film is done at half speed. Also, the magical women living on the beach can’t breed, so they apparently have to kidnap slave women to turn them into “breeders” to keep their people going. These are the good guys. The one thing that sets them apart from the bad guys is pretty much gender. The magic women also are magical because they perfected the art of metalworking and can make shields. That’s it. Yet their magic powers haven’t shown them how to figure out pants technology. Not a single one of these ladies is wearing pants. It’s freaking cloth wrapped around your legs, what is there not to get?! Then again, this is an era when no one has figured out sleeves either, so I guess it’s par for the course.

Is there anything remotely redeeming about this film? Well, it has a story structure. There’s a beginning, middle, and end. I’m not saying anything that happens during that structure is worthwhile, but it is what it is. There’s also a torture scene, where the bad guy monologues and then promptly leaves the room with all of his henchmen so Gunan can escape. The torture uses sharpened spikes, but Nuriak also throws Lenni on there to slowly be impaled overnight in front of Gunan. It’s a nasty, evil touch that I appreciate, but maybe next time actually post someone in the room to make sure your evil plan actually happens. This is like Bad Guy 101, dude.

Also, this trailer is horribly wrong on the plot. I don’t think anyone actually watched this movie when they made it:

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