Arnold Schwarzenegger, Conan the Barbarian | SWORD AND SORCERY Arnold Schwarzenegger's breakthrough acting role in Conan the Barbarian
Credit: The Kobal Collection

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been famous for so long, it’s easy to forget how hard it was for him to get there in the first place. After gaining a sort of freak-show reputation by racking up a slew of Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia bodybuilding titles, the Austrian Oak made his movie debut in 1969’s dreadful Hercules in New York. The Oak turned out to be so wooden that another actor had to dub his lines. Of course, his unquenchable will to power would not be denied. And 13 years later, after a handful of forgettable TV cameos, he finally scored his first box office hit with Conan the Barbarian (1982, R, 2 hrs., 9 mins.). Unfairly dismissed by some as brainless, macho hooey, John Milius’ sword-and-sandal epic — finally on Blu-ray — is actually a hugely entertaining way to spend a Sunday afternoon. It’s also the kind of bloody, battle-filled adventure that enchants teenage boys’ imaginations before they discover teenage girls. The credit mainly goes to the then-35-year-old Schwarzenegger, whose sly, Neanderthal charisma reaches its apex when Conan is famously asked, ”What is best in life?” His response: ”To crush ya enemies, see dem driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of da women.” In addition to awesome lines like that one, the disc comes with some new Extras, including previously unseen interviews with Schwarzenegger, Milius, and comely costar Sandahl Bergman. No, Conan may not be The Terminator, or even Total Recall for that matter. But I can’t think of a better movie to throw on when I want to feel 13 again. B+

Conan the Barbarian
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