Barbarian Queen II, the Empress Strikes Back (1990) Review

Runtime: 80 minutes
Director: Joe Finley
Starring: Lana Clarkson, Greg Wrangler, Rebecca Wood
MPAA Rating: R
Final Score: 7.5/10

In a time long ago, a throne was lost to an evil ruler, and terror reigned throughout the land. Now, the only hope for a weary kingdom rests in the courage of a beautiful princess, who must become a queen to lead the revolt. The brazen bombshell Barbarian Queen returns to the screen in an adventurous tale of greed, betrayal, and triumph!



The story is a classic rebellion, a disposed queen must rally her people to take back the throne. We are dropped into the story in the first scene. Most of the plot is laid out right there, and then develops for the rest of the movie. We are given character motivations, some backstory, and hints to what will happen later. This is the second Barbarian Queen, but it has nothing to do with the first movie, so don’t expect any addition to the story of Amathea.
Score: 1/1

Movies are much more satisfying when the villain is someone you love to hate. And this movie has a couple of them. They are there for us to hate. The movie doesn’t focus on why they are like that, it just shows them as they are. The same goes for the good characters as well, but on the opposite spectrum. Overzealous, clumsy, mute, uncertain; each character has a unique personality that separates them from others. Unfortunately, that is as much as we get to know about these characters.
Score: .5/1

It’s hard to get romance right in a short movie that focuses on other aspects, but they pull it off well here. With just a few scenes, we get a sense of the history between the two characters and see that they still have feelings. And we get some interactions between them where they explore these feelings and their views on the current events. They don’t agree on anything and it causes some conflict. There is some great back and forth between the characters that feels genuine.
Score: 1/1

With such a short run time, the movie could have fallen into the trap of explaining everything for the plot. But it somehow stayed away from that. The audience is just shown the present events with mentions of the past and must put two and two together. Sure, some of the villains’ lines are a little on the nose and melodramatic, but no one is perfect.
Score: .5/1

The fighting in this movie is a mixed bag. There are some scenes that are amazing, fantastic and just fun to watch. But the very next scene will have hilariously bad fighting with characters doing things no one would do in battle. And this happens all throughout the movie. From the first fight scene to the last you never know which kind of fighting it will be this time.
Score: .5/1

The Barbarian Queen theme was used early in the first movie, but here it is kept until the very final fight. And I think that was the right choice. We see Athalia coming to terms with being a queen, and it’s not until she decides to lead the rebellion that we hear her theme. The rest of the music doesn’t stand out. It overpowers some scenes, but mostly stays in the background.
Score: 1/1

Set Design
A castle, a forest camp, and the dungeons. These are the only sets that appear throughout the movie, but they are well designed and well made. They mix classic fantasy with practical medieval.
Score: 1/1

The title Barbarian Queen would make a person think that these people are savages in the wild. But the movie paints them as regular medieval peasants. Which gets more confusing when half of them wear the usual barbarian underwear and the other half wear normal garments. The army of the villains do not have the same problem. The design for them is great, it’s not outrageous but they still look cool. The biggest problem with them is their helmets. They just look dumb. They’re oversized and blocky, and you can tell they are not metal.
Score: .5/1

Special Effects
The effects in the movie are limited to blood effects. Blood is not used in most of the fights. It is kept until pivotal scenes. This makes it more noticeable, but the effects are well done and don’t look exaggerated. There is magic in the movie, but the biggest scenes with it are when one of the characters changes age rapidly, but they just cut away for those.
Score: 1/1

Overall, the movie stays away from fantasy elements. One of the main plot devices is magical, but not overtly so. Don’t go into it waiting for the fantasy. It’s not there. What we get is a short adventure in a medieval like setting with tiny bits of fantasy sprinkled in. It’s a fast and fun adventure story with a little heart.
Score: .5/1

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