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Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time

You simply cannot beat the box design created for Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time. When the sword-wielding half-cousin of Conan the Barbarian, a woman in acid wash jeans holding two wily ferrets, a red Porsche flying out of a time portal, and a freaking tiger are together on the same box, it can be assumed some fun is in store for the viewer. Luckily Beastmaster 2 delivers in spades, providing enough laughs to ensure a place in my collection for quite some time.

I was almost certain I could watch this movie without having any previous knowledge of the franchise, and for the most part I was right. Though there are a few scattered references to the Beastmaster’s adventures from the first film, Through the Portal of Time actively stands apart from its predecessor with a completely different story. It begins with the Beastmaster, whose unfortunate name happens to be Dar, being brought before an eeevil council of blokes who look suspiciously like Brain Guy from Mystery Science Theater 3000. Their leader, the vicious warlord Arklon, predictably laughs at Dar’s predicament and orders his execution. With some help from his trusty ferrets, tiger, and falcon, however, Dar manages to cheat death. Arklon is attacked by the falcon, the Beastmaster lives to fight another day, and all is right in the world (for now).

While at this point the film seemed to be your generic swords-and-sorcery deal, there were definitely elements worth a traditional ribbing. First, Robert Z’Dar plays one of Arklon’s soldiers, which automatically made me want to keep the video for years to come. Z’Dar is one of my favorite b-movie actors, the puffy-faced hulk from such classic cinematic entries as Soultaker, Double Blast, and Samurai Cop. It’s too bad he doesn’t do more than participate in awkward fight choreography, because he truly is a guy worth spotlighting if you can get him on a set.

Second, Arklon is a hoot, a hammy villain who randomly caresses his golden locks while spouting countless lines of quotable dialogue. Third, Marc Singer, who plays Dar, is quite possibly one of the ugliest gentlemen I have ever seen on film. We’re not talking Arch Hall, Jr. here folks, but the effect is pretty darn close. The poor man looks as if he underwent a plastic surgery operation gone awry. Yeah, it’s pretty cheap to make jokes about someone’s appearance, but hey, it’s Beastmaster, so I say you take your laughs where they come.

Eventually the concept of time is brought into the plot, with a witch revealing to Arklon a portal which will take him to a mysterious land known as “L.A.” By this point Arklon is wearing a Phantom of the Opera mask seemingly made out of Hershey chocolate, making circumstances all the more hilarious. Their conversation is brought to a halt when a Porsche and two police cars fly out of the portal, having zipped through a dead end alleyway during a high speed chase. Truly “rad” and “with it” teen Jackie Trent drives the Porsche, and she eventually teams up with Dar to stop Arklon from obtaining a nuclear bomb.

As I mentioned before, this movie is just plain fun. There are no misconceptions on the part of anyone involved, with each member of the group knowing just how cheesy their property is and choosing to run with it eagerly. Many clichés are presented here but they are fully self-aware, including a delightful scene where Arklon, the witch Lyranna, and Jackie visit a department store to pick out some modern threads for the villains. When you have a snarling warlord wielding a laser-spitting bong trying on a gaudy green suit and picking on an effeminate French salesman, you know someone gave up on making a real adventure movie long ago. There’s even a “driving around Las Angeles” montage where the Beastmaster gets to act the fish-out-of-water role, and he even spots a theater marquee reading “Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time.” His mugging reaction is truly priceless.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a few points I could make detracting from this otherwise enjoyable experience. Former MTV VJ Kari Wuhrer plays Jackie with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, her every line delivered with a complete lack of comic timing. Granted, she’s supposed to be a dizzy and goofy teen, but at a certain point I became annoyed with her wacky style. The character’s dialogue doesn’t help matters either, since Jackie is constantly making pop culture references when chatting with characters from the Beastmaster’s world. This isn’t humorous, to be sure, since Twilight Zone and Jeopardy jokes don’t exactly inspire raucous laughter. There’s also a disposable subplot about Arklon and Dar being brothers (they both mysteriously have the same McDonald’s logo branded on their hands, ya see) which I could easily have done without.

Nitpicking aside, Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time is a wholly satisfying experience for the b-fan looking for a good time. My friend and I laughed out loud on many an occasion, so I hesitate to divulge any more memorable moments in lieu of spoiling them for future viewers. Seriously, if you see this movie at a rental store or feel compelled to order it online, you won’t be disappointed.

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