In modern times, feature films about swords and sorcery – such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003) and the Harry Potter film series (2001-2011) – have attained a massive amount of success. Reaching a larger audience like few their ilk had ever done prior, there is a list of films that came decades earlier which cleared a path with the flash of a blade… like 1982’s Conan the Barbarian and its sequel 1984’s Conan the Destroyer.
A character based on 1930s writings from Robert E. Howard, apparently the development of a feature film was proposed sometime in the 1970s, however, never really grew legs. Finally, by the time the ‘80s rolled around the wheels were in motion and Universal Pictures distributed Conan the Barbarian to theaters all over the world in 1982. Proving to be a commercial success, in spite of mixed reviews, the film had positive returns at the box office earning upwards of 70 million dollars. Furthermore, the film’s legacy is even more significant because it made a star of the then relatively unknown Arnold Schwarzenegger; who would go onto big things in 1984 with Terminator, before Predator in 1987.
Complete with solid visual effects and action sequences, Conan the Barbarian’s impact was firm enough to result in the production of the sequel, Conan the Destroyer. Finding Schwarzenegger returning as the lead star Conan, the second film arrived in June of 1984, and while not as financially successful as the original film, still earned itself an audience.
Now 42 years since Conan the Barbarian, and as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Conan the Destroyer, the two films get a 4K release thanks to Arrow Video. Both put out as stand-alone individual releases (both as 4K and Blu-ray format), each arrived as a limited edition 2-disc set on January 30, 2024. However, the releases are also available as a combination box set if you wish to go that route instead.
This outlined, Arrow Video does an extremely solid job of creating something fans will enjoy each film. Breaking it down, both releases include the 4K restoration of the films, older interviews, plus some newly filmed interviews as well. Providing you deeper insight, Conan the Barbarian’s release includes 4K transfers of the theatrical cut, international cut, and extended cut. This is while Conan the Destroyer’s 4K edition’s biggest bonus is an illustrated collector’s booklet. And equally, each has double-sided posters and 6 double-sided collector’s postcards.
These bells and whistles put out there, what really sells these sets are the clarified imagery and audio improvements. Truthy, each sounds and looks better than any prior home video release of the films to date. So, if you are looking to expand your 4K collection and want to add some classic Fantasy films to it, Cryptic Rock recommends both the 4K release of Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer, giving both 4.5 out of 5 stars.