I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Hundra

tn_hundra“What manner of woman would meddle in men’s affairs?”

One thing I’ve noticed in these Barbarian movies, Barbaria seems to be a very male-dominated society, even more than our own. You remember what Conan the Barbarian-American said about “the lamentation of their women.” Women are treated as sex slaves, whores, treasure, at best babymakers. That’s why HUNDRA is so cool. This is the feminist Barbarian movie. This is about a woman that lives in that same savage world, but flat out refuses to take any shit.

“Many of our women preferred to bear arms rather than children,” the narrator says. “The champion of these was…

HUNDRA.”

Hundra (Laurene Landon, MANIAC COP 1-2) is from a tribe of all women. In order to keep their race going some of them periodically venture out to use men for their “seed,” but that’s not Hundra’s thing. The only man in her life is her dog Beast, who is a total coward who runs away any time in the movie that there’s danger. She says it’s because he’s a male. This is actually a very successful use of animal-related comic relief. It really made me laugh to see that little shit make a run for it before each major action scene, then conveniently show up again in peacetime.

One lady in the tribe nags Hundra about her responsibility to “bring life into the tribe” and “bring a successor,” but Hundra just makes fun of her. “I prefer the feel of a horse between my legs to that of swine, and it pleasures me instead of pains me.” If she was out trying to find some meat then who would go out and get the actual meat, you know what I mean?

mp_hundraWell unfortunately while she’s out doing that a group of Men’s Rights Advocates show up and kill everybody, even rape and decapitate Hundra’s little sister. So not only is her whole life ruined but now a wise old lady in a cave (who we’ve already met as the narrator) convinces Hundra that she really does have to get over her “No man will ever penetrate my body with sword or with himself” policy and make one of those “babies” like the other ladies have. If not the tribe is done for.

On one hand, this is that thing they always do where the woman of action has to become a mother to be a real woman. See also SHE SHOOTS STRAIGHT. On the other hand it’s not a softening or a taming. She’s not gonna settle down. She just needs to borrow somebody’s dick real quick. So she goes on a journey to find one worthy of Hundra.

On the road she gets attacked by roving bands of men, and she always overcomes the motherfuckers. She’s good with a bow and arrow and with a sword. The action is really cool, she does badass moves like jumping onto a horse behind the guy riding it, stabbing the dude and tossing him off. Landon is tall and lanky and really throws herself into it, I almost believe she could do this shit.

The first potential mate she chooses is kind of a viking type with a bunch of sex slaves in his possession. She just walks up to his campfire, tears a piece of meat off the dinner in his hand and starts munching on it. Not a double entendre. She’s from the Bruce Lee/Clint Eastwood school of intimidation through casual snacking.

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This guy seems of strong enough stock to settle for, but when he drunkenly tosses her down and flips her around she says “Fuck this” and decides to fight him instead in an epic fight scene that culminates in her crushing his balls in her hand and freeing his sex slaves, disgustedly yelling at them when they don’t jump at the opportunity.

“See what you grovel to? You’re free! GOOOO!

The badass eating comes up more than once, actually. In another scene she’s killed a group of attackers and is taking food off their corpses when a survivor comes up behind her holding a boulder over his head like he’s gonna smash her. Hundra just blocks with one hand while still chewing, pushes back until he falls backwards and drops the rock on his head.

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Meanwhile, there’s this asshole king guy. There’s a real good “just how evil is he?” scene where he auditions young women for his sex slave temple. Also the peasants come to his throne room and beg for special favors like “please don’t imprison my only daughter for life and train her to be a sex slave.” When a crying woman slightly touches him he freaks out and frantically washes his hands in a nearby bowl. 1983’s pretty early for an obsessive-compulsive villain, isn’t it?

Later Hundra literally drops in on a dude when she’s swinging on a rope and falls through his ceiling. She figures she can just rape him real quick and hit the road, but he’s not into her. She decides to turn herself in to the authorities and submit to the Temple of the Bull, where women are trained to please the king and local chieftains. It’s sad to see her giving in to that but also kinda badass because she makes them do it and seems confident that she can control the situation. Because she’s Hundra.

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It’s dangerous though. She gets a makeover. After an icy reception by her charm school teacher they find some common ground and Hundra starts training her to fight. Each one teach one. There’s some humor about how much Hundra does not fit in with these girly girls. When the teacher lady confides in her about her daughter being taken from her Hundra sees that she’s crying and looks at her like “what the fuck is that coming out of your eyes? Is that water?”

Eventually she gets what she wants and has a (SPOILER) daughter. I say spoiler because personally I was kinda tense thinking it was gonna be a boy and then what the fuck was she gonna do. In her tribe if they announced “male child” everybody would go “Awww,” and make plans to dump the little thing off back in town the next day when they went looking for more seed. It seems like almost a cheat but also a relief that they don’t have to deal with that. They just assume it’s gonna be a girl and then it is.

But you know how babies are in action movies. You’ve seen DOUBLE TEAM, for example. The motherfuckers kidnap the baby to force Hundra to truly submit. They can’t stand that there would be a woman who controls her own destiny. They gotta force her to bow to the men, and then kneel to them, you know.

Of course Hundra is gonna come out on top. She’s gonna chop dudes up, damage some huevos, etc. More importantly she inspires the other kept women to swarm the king and tear him apart. One lady gleefully sits on his face to smother him! This movie probly sparked alot of fetishists.

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The baby-papa guy helps her, but in a reverse-womanly way. He provides the baby and throws her her sword, and she leaves him behind at the end, and he has nothing to say about it. A good gender swap there. Hundra gives a much warmer goodbye to the lady, it seems like she comes real close to kissing her.

The out-of-print DVD from Subversive Cinema has a pretty shitty transfer, but the interviews and commentary with director Matt Cimber (CANDY TANGERINE MAN, G.L.O.W.: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) and Landon are enlightening. According to Cimber’s stories this was a CONAN THE BARBARIAN rip-off in the purest way possible: the producers paid to use the actual sets and props from that movie. Supposedly they had a script by Jose Truchado (EXTERMINATORS OF THE YEAR 3000) that was just a Conan rip-off with a woman, and Cimber wanted it to actually address gender issues. He says that he and writer John Goff (HIT LIST) would get together every morning before shooting and rewrite each scene to be about some aspect of male-female relationships.

At the end, the narrator gives us some inspirational words: “Let all men be aware the seed of Hundra is in all women.” In fact that’s a little prophetic, because you can see the influence of HUNDRA in many other “female Conan” type movies, and even Xena: Warrior Princess. But so far I haven’t seen one as good as this. HUNDRA is the fun, pro-woman fantasy movie that RED SONJA verges on being at its best.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 at 12:21 pm and is filed under Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

7 Responses to “Hundra”

  1. HUNDRA is some good shit. I liked how Landon came off in the interviews on the DVD, like she was this kinda nutty lady who took the female empowerment stuff SUPER seriously. She wasn’t some girly-girl they trained how to pose with a plastic sword. She seemed like a real tough, kinda crazy person, the way we like our badasses to be.

    Vern, I interpreted the asshole king guy differently. To me, he wasn’t OCD. It wasn’t germs he was afraid of, it was girl cooties. He hated women so much, it turned him gay. The movie seemed to be saying that homosexuality was the ultimate result of misogyny, which is, you know, not exactly the most enlightened (or accurate) interpretation of that particular sexual orientation. But oh well. It’s an artifact of another time, and it’s cool to see it preserved for our modern eyes to roll at.

    Am I just crazy or did anyone else catch that vibe?

  2. Aw hell, I thought I saw this one Back in the Day, but if I did, the details totally don’t ring a bell now. The review and Majestyk’s take on the sexual implications make me curious to watch it, if I can find it on Netflix. (Surprise, there it is.)

    I remember Landon was sexy and athletic in I, THE JURY, ALL THE MARBLES, and another Cimber movie, YELLOW HAIR AND THE FORTRESS OF GOLD. YELLOW HAIR was an interesting mash of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (retro-’40s serial style) and spaghetti western with Landon cast as another two-fisted babe. Maybe a little too black-humor-violent and gritty for the younger or mainstream crowds that made money for Spielberg, but not enough skin for the Fred Olen Ray fans, as I recall. I thought she would get bigger roles after I, THE JURY but it looks like she went the B-movie route instead; maybe ahead of her time, as Vern suggests, as a tough babe? Or not having any high-profile nude roles that I know of (correct me here?), she didn’t find or exploit the kind of step up to at least short-term celebrity that others like Barbara Carrera, Sharon Stone, or Nastassja Kinski did?

  3. Stopped reading this review and ordered the DVD through your Amazon link.

  4. That’s one of those movies, which’s cover always fascinated me at the video store. I think I should watch it one day.

  5. Haven’t seen this in a long, long time but I remember really liking it at the time. There is a scene that I’ve always liked and I hope my memory of it rings true; Hundra is being chased by a load of men on horseback; she loses them by hiding amongst a bunch of rocks but, as they ride past unaware of her, she steps out from behind the rocks and lets out some sort of guttural battle yell, anouncing her presence to the men and challenging them. She then carries on to see them off: always loved that scene.

  6. So it’s like BARBARELLA with Barbarians?

  7. In my adulthood-long quest to remain at least one year behind the Top40SoHotRightNow aspect of pop culture, I just saw the Katy Perry “Roar” music video for the first time (and then immediately a few other times) and am pleased to report that it features many Hundra-like images & themes in my opinion. I think everyone here would appreciate it.

    For example, K-Pear breaks apart her high heeled shoe, straps the heel part to the end of a stick, thus making it a spear, and launches her new handmade weapon to kill a banana. The video doesn’t seem to follow up on whether she uses the entire banana carcass. This banana-hunt happens pretty early in her new deserted-island-away-from-civilization life; she might have still had some of the wasteful tendencies of privileged 1st world capitalist assholes, so that banana peel probably just rotted into compost.

    Through the power of montage and power-pop-ballading, Katy quickly achieves dominion over all animals and plant life. She emulates WOLFHOUND to some extent, but she has tropical birds on her shoulder, not a bat. But the whole music video is set during the daytime, so maybe she bonds with bats during their preferred nocturnal period. “Roar 2” will explore this.

    She brushes an alligator’s teeth. She overpowers a tiger with her, uh, roar. She must have killed a leopard offscreen at some point because she’s wearing its skin as a totally practical, fashionable top/bra. She also has some of her prey’s skin decorating her spear, like Steven Tyler does with scarfs and mic stands.

    On the flora front, Katy turns plants into a skirt and she turns berries into lipstick. Who says a planewreck survivor lady can’t have it all?

    Forcing the tiger to wear a collar with “Kitty Purry” engraved on it was a bit much, though. Well, it’s better than if she had branded it. No magnificent cat of prey deserves that. And I’m not sure the elephant appreciates having its toenails painted pink. Not very tactical in that neighborhood in my opinion, but maybe everyone is safe from other lurking predators now that Ms. Roar is in town. No one’s gonna fuck with her turf, not even if they’re really hungry and spot a damaged elephant (He or she’s missing half a tusk.) with bright pink feet.

    Also Katy’s male companion in the video is a weenie and he gets mauled by a tiger. Take that, patriarchy.

    This is a great, badass music video.

    If Senator SecState Hillary Clinton makes this her campaign song and actually plays the video at the DNC (or better yet if Ms. Perry performs it live with real tigers and shit), we all pretty much have to vote for her.

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