Main      Site Guide    
At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Lion Man (1975)

(aka: Aslan Adam)



Reviews and Comments

Lion Man is a relentlessly entertaining bad movie. It's ineptly made, with atrociously wooden dialogue, but it's just so fast and heedless that it's kind of fun anyway. The movie doesn't even want to introduce us to the characters before plunging them into a frenzied battle with horses, swords, and a whole lot of stunt men pitching themselves across the frame. The peppy classical score, an unintuitively jolly choice, somehow precisely fits the mood.

After the battle, we get the seeds of a plot. A pregnant woman is forced to flee for her life. While on the run, she pauses for a few seconds to give birth, and then somehow it is raised by a lion. We follow the child's growth into a man in parallel with the regrouping of two forces at war, and it sure doesn't seem like enough years pass for the child to become a man. But he does, and from this point on, the movie feels like a medieval Tarzan. Lion Man, as he is called, appears as needed to rescue people from oppression. In some dizzyingly crazy fight scenes, he springs through the air, pounces on people, and pounds them with his claw-like hands. Later he gets some metal claws to improve upon his human anatomy. Like Tarzan, he has a signature feral scream, which sounds like a cross between a lion's roar and a Looney Tunes character falling into a pricker bush.

What Lion Man doesn't know is that he's of royal blood. Others know this because he bears a distinctive birthmark: a series of blank lines on his back that form the outlines of a lion and a sword. It looks like a big postage cancellation stamp. Nature is funny sometimes, huh? Of course he eventually falls in with the goodguys and taught to speak and fight with weapons. This leads to one of the funniest knife fights in film, where blows are continually blocked before they're delivered, and the two combatants periodically do somersaults in tandem and leap way over each other's heads. Later, a castle full of guards descends on them, and they beat them all up by springing about on unseen trampolines and engaging in most of the major gymnastics disciplines.

The dialogue is mostly funny for its toneless delivery, but there are some real corkers in it. For example, when a man and woman are kissing, she says, "Either you're going to stay all mine, or you'll be killed." Based on the man's reaction, he apparently considers this death threat profoundly romantic, but I don't think that was the intention. Then there's a line where a guy says, "Follow me. I know where there's a secret passage." Then he ushers them ahead, while he stays behind to dispatch the pursuing guards.

But the story, as tempting as it is to be snide about it, is pretty good. There are interesting alliances, betrayals, and secrets here that are interesting to discover, or would be if the execution weren't so silly. But therein lies the paradox: It is so silly, so outrageous, that it's hard not to admire its gumption. Take my star rating with a grain of salt. This is an awful movie and a whole lot of fun.

Series Entries