Allan (Richard Chamberlain, Shogun) and Jesse Huston (Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct) are newly engaged and preparing to leave for America where they’ll be married. Or so they think. Adventure comes in the form of a mysterious stranger appearing from the jungle who declares that Allan’s presumably missing brother is, in fact, alive and has discovered The Lost City of Gold, a legendary city adorned with gold and riches beyond imagination.
If novelist H. Rider Haggard wasn't rolling over in his grave when Cannon Films adapted 'King Solomon's Mines' in a blatant effort to capitalize on Indiana Jones fever back in 1985, I'm pretty sure that his restless corpse is still spinning to this day thanks to the follow-up they released a short time later: 'Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold.' Riddled with embarrassing performances, terrible dialogue, corny action sequences, and some of the sloppiest editing you'll ever see in film, about the only thing this B-movie sequel has going for it are the spurts of unintentional humor that also serve as smelling salts to help keep viewers awake.
Richard Chamberlain returns as the titular hero, who now resides in Africa with his clingy archeologist fiancée, Jesse Huston (Sharon Stone, in her Razzie nominated role). Jesse can't wait to head back to America and tie the knot with her man, however just the thought of settling down and putting on fancy clothes is driving Quatermain stir crazy. But when a half-dead family friend suddenly stumbles out of the jungle with a mysterious gold piece and news that Allan's long lost brother is still alive, the wedding is put on hold as the two lovebirds set out to find him. They enlist the help of the hulking axe-wielding Zulu named Umslopgaas (James Earl Jones) the shifty Indian faith healer Swarma (Robert Donner), and the usual expendable slave labor and begin a perilous adventure across the Sahara -- encountering violent tribes, ferocious beasts, and deadly booby traps along the way.
Many groans, eye-rollings, and at least two dead jungle cats later, the group finally tracks down Allan's missing brother at the mythical Lost City of Gold, which happens to be little more than a two-story villa. This overcrowded home is ruled by two queens (the evil one of which is played by Cassandra Peterson, better known as Elvira: Mistress of the Dark) and a cruel high priest named Agon (Henry Silva in a ridiculous frizzy Gene Simmons 'do). Agon sadistically enjoys turning his disobedient followers into life-size Oscar statuettes in his spare time and he doesn't take too kindly to Quatermain's lion killin' ways. But as the white devil's charms starts winning over the natives, it will culminate into a showdown that will literally bring down the house...and won't make one lick of sense.
'Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold' was apparently filmed concurrently with its predecessor, and while it is unclear whether the script had already been written or if it was a rush job just to keep things going -- it certainly feels like something that was thrown together at the last minute. The parody aspects of the first film are gone by the wayside, and nearly all of the stunts -- which are hilariously bad by the way -- are devoid of any real thrills. Complicating matters further is the fact that more than a few scenes end quite jarringly, and the climactic finale is a convoluted mess that truly defies logic. No one even bothered to make an attempt to hide the safety cables attached to the actors -- and you'd think with three editors working on this, maybe one of them would have said something.
Sharon Stone has received enough flak for her performance already so I won't pick on her here, but some of the other cast members do such ludicrous things they really have to be seen to be believed. I literally burst out laughing right at the beginning when the dude in the jungle (who is being hunted by tribesmen in KKK-style hoods for some inexplicable reason) has an incredibly melodramatic reaction to a snake. And between those hoods, the cartoonish stereotypes, and the way Chamberlain keeps saying "lost white race", I couldn't help but wonder if there's some kind of message being sent here.
Despite all that, though, 'Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold' can be fun in an almost guilty pleasure sort of way, if for no other reason than it being ripe for heckling. But those looking for a thrilling take on Haggard's stories definitely won't find it here.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold' makes its Blu-ray debut courtesy of Olive Films. The BD-25 Blu-ray disc is housed in a standard blue keepcase. At startup, the disc loads straight to a menu screen with a still image and options to play the film, select chapters, or view the trailer.
'Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold' arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio. While this Blu-ray may very well be a step up from previous DVD releases, it is a slight improvement at most and quite disappointing on the whole to say the least.
The picture is very soft and is blanketed by a sheen of haziness for the majority of the run time. It also doesn't help matters that mosquito noise is a prevalent problem here -- especially in the poorly lit scenes. This renders finer detailing in facial close-ups to almost nonexistent levels, and the textures in building structures and fabrics aren't a whole lot better, either. Blacks range from decent to underwhelming. Some of the more vibrant colors do pop on occasion, though, but unfortunately these instances are few and far between. Artifacts are a frequent occurrence as well. In the end, what we're left with is a rather bland presentation that really doesn't scream "high-def" much at all.
Olive Films only provides a lone English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix for this Blu-ray, and it's a rather flat and unexciting presentation just like the film itself. The cheesy dialogue generally sounds adequate enough, although at times it does come off a bit tinny and harsh. Dynamic range is restrictive and directionality is also pretty limited. The bass activity is rather weak, too. In fact, the LFE only really reveals its presence during the pillar of flame sequence and even then it's a whimper at best. Gunshots and explosions fail to provide any oomph. This is a boring track chock full of datedness and little else.
All we have is a trailer which probably should have been labeled 'Allan Quatermain and the Lost Deleted Scenes' since it contains a few clips of footage that are mysteriously absent from the actual movie (or elsewhere on this disc for that matter).
There's a moment in 'Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold' where James Earl Jones' character witnesses something and shakes his head in utter disbelief. That's the sort of reaction you can expect to have yourself more than a few times when watching this half-baked sequel to 'King Solomon's Mines.' It's just a poorly conceived adventure on pretty much all accounts, but the action/comedy still manages to pack a few sporadic laughs -- even if most of them really only come at the film's expense. Olive Films, however, doesn't try very hard to sell this Blu-ray in terms of the presentation or its supplements, which makes it an even tougher one to recommend.