[Junesploitation ’21] Mini Reviews: Krull (1983) and Cleopatra Jones (1973)

Mini Review
Day 07: Sword and Sorcery!
Krull (1983)

One of the most popular types of films from the mid to late 70s through to the 80s was the ‘Sword and Sorcery’ film, which also happens to be the prompt for Day 7’s film choice. Perhaps the most popular film to come out of this era was Conan The Barbarian (1982), it is probably the one most people remember from this era of films and it is a great film. The other more well known one is Krull (1983), a film that wasn’t too well received upon its initial release but has gained a status as a ‘cult classic’ and rightfully so as it is a fun and enjoyable staple of the 80s.

The film takes place on the titular Krull, where Prince Colwyn (Kenneth Marshall) and a group of misfit outlaws, journey to find the mysterious black fortress in order to save Colwyn’s beloved Princess Lyssa (Lysette Anthony) from the Beast (voiced by Trevor Martin) and his army of Slayers. Krull is basically Star Wars meets Lord Of The Rings with some King Arthur thrown in, having elements from these stories and blending them together to create something a little different. It’s influences are very much on the surface, however this isn’t a bad thing and it’s a wild story to tell with huge sets and action scenes that piece it all together.

While the film has a lot of fun and enjoyable elements, at a two hour running time it is a little long and the story can drag in parts. It would have benefited from perhaps 15 minutes being cut for a tighter and better paced film. Most of the performances are genuinely charming, with Kenneth Marshall making for a charismatic lead and sharing the right amount of chemistry with Lysette Anthony, who brings a lot of warmth to the film. The film is notable for showing off early career performances from Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane, who both do just fine here.

Krull shines with its fantastical sets, creature designs, a blend of practical and special effects that for the most part look really cool and a wonderful memorable soundtrack. The film does lose track at times and perhaps the script needed a bit more work before filming, but overall it works to deliver an enjoyable film that takes its audience on an adventure and doesn’t look back. This really is a must see for fans of ‘Sword and Sorcery’ films or the genre in general, it has a lot of heart and charm.


Mini Review
Day 08: Blacksploitation!
Cleopatra Jones (1973)

The early 70s saw a rise in African American cinema, blasting off the blacksploitation movement with a bunch of very popular films such as Shaft (1971) and Coffy (1973). The theme for Day 9 is blacksploitation and let’s take a look at another one of the popular films from the time with Cleopatra Jones (1973). Cleopatra Jones is a mix match of James Bond and crime drama, with a lead character that is as stylish as she is fierce some.

The film follows the adventures of U.S. Special Agent Cleopatra Jones (Tamara Dobson) as she aims to bring down a drug empire run by the larger than life Mommy (Shelley Winters), who peddles drugs into her community and targets the safe heaven Brothers and Sisters House. Mommy has deep connections, using corrupt cops and Cleopatra is going to bring her down and find those who work for her to protect the community. The film belongs to its star Tamara Dobson, who embodies this strong and powerful woman, every part as equal to men, and she makes no apologies for it. She is a woman who commands respect, fights for herself and wont allow anyone to get in her way especially those who pose a threat to those vulnerable.

Cleopatra Jones is a film that embodies feminism, equality and sexuality, empowering those who watch it and gives the audience a wild ride. Tamara Dobson made for a charismatic screen presence, playing the character extremely well. This is a strong female lead role, one where she stood up for herself with the character and refused to do any nudes scenes. The film didn’t need it and the impact of seeing this character be sexy without shedding her clothes and getting in on the action and fighting the bad guys was almost ground breaking for the time. Her relationships with men are generally respectable, her partner Ruben (Bernie Casey) have a genuine connection, there isn’t a single sign of disrespect between them.

The main villain of the piece is also female, who shows more respect to what we would call a ‘submissive’ who is also female, than any of the men who work for her and it is heavily implied they have a sexual relationship. There are some very intense and seriously scenes, scenes that almost 50 years later are still shocking because not much has changed, the cops bust in on the Brothers and Sisters Home and are ready to shoot everyone there for no reason, and plant drugs on one of the men. As much as we’d like to believe society has changed, a scene like that still happens every day and we haven’t stopped this.

This is a fun film, with some very strong themes, a wonderful led with the most amazing fashion choices (her costumes were done byItalian fashion designer Giorgio di Sant’Angelo), lots of awesome action and one of the most over the top and insane villains with Winters. There is a lot of enjoy and admire with Cleopatra Jones, it is an important film that holds up as well today as the day it was released. An absolute must see for fans of blacksploitation films, strong female led films and action crime films, seek this out and give it a watch, it will not disappointment, at least this writer believe that.


Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea

Please check out FThisMovie.net, with many thanks to the crew for the concept of Junesploitation and some excellent prompts for 2021!


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