A triumphantly terrible 1999 fantasy-horror post-apocalyptic assault on the famed 8th century Old English epic poem, Beowulf features such absurdities as squinting, chuckling, sleepwalking warrior Christopher Lambert sporting Ted Danson hair while a stuntman handles the slo-mo mid-air spins, high kicks and backflips; the lovely Rhona Mitra bobbling her melons and constantly acting, acting, ACTING; and Oliver Cotton fornicating with siliconed-up Playboy Playmate Layla Roberts playing a bottle blonde succubus who licks her finger suggestively while growling lines like, "I sucked their veins, chewed their bones wet and still alive, hot blood pumping down my throat." All this – and, oh, so much more –played to a repetitive, completely disconnected techno-metal-ambient soundtrack perfect for a video game or a soft porn movie. Are you in? All right, then.
Very little of this thing, directed by Graham Baker (Omen III, Alien Nation) and from the producers of Mortal Kombat, has anything to do with the original heroic source work, a favorite of sadistic high school and college teachers. Instead, it’s made-up-as-we-go-along nonsense having something or other to do with poor old Beowulf being damned to roam the earth fighting evil so that he won’t himself become evil.
In it, Lambert, closer to the Highlander paycheck phase of his career than the big star buildup he got in the ‘80s for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, is the mysterious leather-clad stranger (think The Road Warrior) who rides to the remote castle of beleaguered King Hrothgar (Cotton), a place that looks like it was built from Renaissance Faire throwaways, equipped with gas jet hallway lamps, a public speaker system and meals served out of frozen dinner aluminum trays. But all is not a kitsch paradise there because the monster Grendel, a toothy, scaled purple haze CGI mashup of Predator and The Creature From the Black Lagoon – actually, just a guy in a rubber suit – has been busy dismembering and devouring the populace.
The king’s minions (who chant "Kill the beast!") have been trying to root out evil by torturing, slicing in half with a giant straight-edged blade and shoving into vinyl zippered body bags innocents like Patricia Valasquez (The Mummy Returns), whom Lambert singlehandedly saves from several dozen shamelessly mugging extras who are armed with a limitless supply of swords, cross-bows and other heavy weaponry. When Lambert gets asked, like, a half-dozen times what summoned him and who exactly he is, his zombie-like replies include laugh-out-loud silliness like: "The darkness"; "I am not who you think I am"; "I’m one of the damned."
Begrudgingly accepted into the outpost by the king’s prodigiously endowed, hot-to-trot daughter (Mitra) and given the fish eye by jealous, lovesick warrior Roland (Gotz Otto, a big, thick slice of ham), Lambert sets out to vanquish eeee-vil in a gaga movie featuring a granny glasses-wearing weapons master (Night Court’s Charles Robinson) and his jivey assistant weapons master Brent Jefferson Lowe, a community theater Chris Rock who spouts things like, "God-dam. Jeez, get a grip, man!" Happily, some of these side characters frequently wander alone through dark corridors, the better to get picked-off Alien-style.
Then, there are the obligatory fake romantic scenes between Lambert and Mitra, the latter of whom is guilt-ridden that she might have brought the monster to the kingdom as punishment for stabbing to death in self-defense her abusive husband. "The beast is not your husband," Lambert consoles her, adding: "Ghosts don’t eat people." Good to know.
No self-respecting dude, horndog or bad movie connoisseur should even dream of skipping the finale between Lambert and Grendel’s R-rated, hip-wiggling, crocheted fishnet see-through sweater-wearing slutty mama Roberts, which involves lots of flicking tongue, codpiece-rubbing, dry-humping and soft porn talk leading to a full-on battle as the red hot she-thing morphs into a many-horned monster that looks like something thrown together by a computer-savvy tween. Beowulf – featuring Lambert at his most dead-eyed and action at its dopiest -- defines crunchy, cheesy bad movie goodness.