While technically a sci-fi movie "based on" John Norman's Tarnsman of Gor, deep down this is a barbarian movie that stands firmly with films like Conan the Barbarian, The Sword and the Sorcerer, and Deathstalker. It is sword-fights-a-go-go, and while the aforementioned films certainly have sword-fights in spades Gor stands out for the sheer energy and cartoonish nature of said scenes (I say cartoonish in a good way).
First, there are some pretty awesome stunt women in this one. Whomever is the stunt double for Rebecca Ferratti (Talena) is awesome. It is either Angel Castignani or Carmen Babnick as there are only two female stunt performers. Unfortunately there is little information on either, though it appears that Carmen Babnick was the double as the IMDb lists her as Ferratti's stunt double in the sequel, Outlaw of Gor (aka Gor II). Ferratti is fairly poor in the fight sequences that are clearly her, but when her double swoops in it is pretty magical.
Regarding the cartoonish nature, there is a series of scenes with Paul L. Smith, better known perhaps as Bluto from the Popeye movie or "The Beast Raban" from Dune. Every violent action he takes sends barbarian garbed extras flying off screen. At one point he turns over a table he was sitting at and the others seated go flying off like crazy. This seems silly, but it is so well done that I can't help but to enjoy it.
On the down/up side is the mixed emotions over the inclusion of the King of Awesome, Oliver Reed. Reed is our villain, Sarm, and is all Oliver Reed. He is all the menacing charm of his numerous bad guy roles, and does not phone it in, despite acting circles around the rest of the cast. You do get the feeling that he perhaps had a pretty staggering bar tab somewhere and took the job to settle up? The other is the inclusion of Jack Palance as Xenos. Palance is another one of those awesome actors that do not get cast in big things as often as they should, and more often wind up in low budget turds like this one.
Well, all this being said, the second half of the film falls off a bit. It is actiony, and we get a lot of Reed being malevolent, but as is typical of B Movies all the good ideas went into the first thirty minutes, then there is a bit of a scramble to get to the desired end. As for Jack Palance, he doesn't show up until the last ten minutes, only to foreshadow the sequel, which was likely shot immediately afterward.
If you love barbarian movies, definitely check it out. If you are a fan of the book, or not a fan for that matter, no worries as it is so far removed as to be unrecognizable. It is as though the writers were given some undefined terms from the book and charged with defining them for the film. It is not a good movie, but it is rather enjoyable, at least for a while, and they actually go against a lot of Norman's inferred ideas about freedom from the first Gor book. Deathstalker fans should definitely be pleased.
|He may be a nerdy professor on the outside, but he's a second rate John Carter on the inside!|
|She's a little stiff, but Rebecca Ferratti certainly looks the part.|
|"I can't believe I waxed my chest for this."|
|"Oli, you smell like whiskey."|
|The obligatory "rule with me" scene.|
|Three shrouded prisoners. One was Talena. Whodathunkit?|
|No idea where this other girl came from, but she was integral to the plot for ten minutes.|
|"I used to be an adventurer, until I took an arrow to the neck."|
|Cue the Whitesnake power ballad.|
|Palance creeping around backstage.|
|The Pope of Disney Village|