|Rated PG (How in the world?)
|Copyright 1984 Columbia Pictures
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 21 July 2002
- Sheena - Tanya Roberts! The Zambuli tribe raises her as a blonde goddess of the jungle. Boy, can she run.
- Vic Casey - Reporter for Sports World. His motto? "I like my women primal."
- Fletch - Vic's buddy, the booze hound cameraman. Constantly obsessed with time, he reminds one of the white rabbit from "Alice in Wonderland" crossed with an alcoholic. "Oh, no! I'm late for my drink!"
- Shaman - Spiritual leader of the Zambulis and Sheena's adoptive mother. She passes on and is buried by an elephant.
- King Jabalani - Monarchs need to be careful in selecting their friends and future wives, along with keeping an eye on possible successors to the throne. He did not. He died.
- Princess Zanda - Jabalani's chosen bride, but she was an evil woman. She gets shoved out of a helicopter.
- Jorgensen - Bloodthirsty leader of the mercenary force sent to destroy the Zambulis. Stabbed in the neck with a spear. Ouch.
- Prince Otwani - Hungry for power, he orchestrates his own brother's assassination and plans to commit genocide. First he takes an arrow in the chest, then a violent motor vehicle collision turns him into human barbecue. Not the best day to be this dude.
|A guide drives two researchers and their young daughter down a dirt track somewhere in Africa. The scientists discuss pictures of a man badly afflicted with cancer. Suddenly, the truck stops when an unexpected speed bump appears in the road: a man, buried up to his neck in the red dirt. Indeed, it is the same patient from the photographs, but, as people pour from the surrounding jungle and dig him free, we can see his body is free of tumors. A huge celebration ensues, complete with music and topless dancing girls (none of the native women appeared to have, er... ...succumbed to gravity like National Geographic would have us believe is common).
The ceremony, performed by the Zambuli tribe, gives thanks for the magical healing dirt. What I want to know is who put it in the middle of the road? What moron? Can you imagine being nearly healed and then having a Land Rover run over your grape?
The scientists settle in to study the sacred mountain and the healing soil, but they are tragically mushed by a cave-in. Their blonde daughter is adopted by the tribe; in fact, Shaman hoists the traumatized youngster into the air and names her Sheena on the spot.
Sheena quickly grows into adulthood and learns the secrets of nature from Shaman. (Can you say "Montage?" Good! I knew you could.) Besides wondering how she managed to avoid becoming very tan, I was amused by the fact that it appears a young boy played Sheena during one section of the montage. Imagine going to a casting call where the major criteria is most resembling an eleven year-old girl. Yeah, that was probably good for the lad's psychological development. The sequence ends with Sheena, now an adult, riding her "zebra" along a lake while music reminiscent of "Chariots of Fire" plays.
Now, I am not saying that the music is out of place here. It is just that another tune might have better fit some other scenes. Tense chases, battles, somebody being electrocuted to death - all use the same dreamy synthesized score. I failed to notice the issue at first; it took a second viewing to catch the incongruity.
Vic and Fletch arrive to photograph the king's wedding and a football game, while Shaman travels to the city after visions warn her that Jabalani's life is in danger. The sports reporters are welcomed, but Otwani's secret police throw the Zambuli spiritualist in prison. You see, Prince Otwani wants the throne for himself and discovered that the Zambulis' sacred mountain is comprised of Titanium ore (which does explain the red/brown dirt), a potential fortune. By assassinating his brother and framing Shaman the prince looks to gain both of his desires.
The king is killed by an arrow during a formal dinner and Shaman is ushered in; the guards claim to have caught her with a bow in hand. Unfortunately for Otwani, the Sports World reporters just happened to catch the crossbow, mounted in a tree, on camera when their equipment malfunctioned. Ignore the fact that Fletch must have accidentally pressed the zoom button, because the goof means both Americans know the Zambuli priestess did not kill the king. They decide to sneak into the prison and interview Shaman.
Through a startling coincidence, Sheena reaches the prison at the same time as the reporters. The blonde jungle goddess is riding her "zebra," is accompanied by a crack chimpanzee assault team, and has an elephant for a battering ram. The poor guards never had a chance.
Vic is smitten with the girl, so he ends up with her during the flight from Otwani's troops. Fletch is sent to get the film out of the country. Few things make the dry savannah look appealing, riding bareback with Tanya Roberts is one of them. Understandably, Vic falls for Sheena and impulsively kisses her. At first Sheena responds with confusion, asking why he pressed his lips to hers (lucky she didn't think he was trying to bite her). The two eventually fall in love, but she makes him ask for nookie. Pretty obvious who wears the loincloth in this relationship...
The mercenary force, armed with automatic weapons and armored vehicles, is making good time en route to the Zambuli village. Sheena wants to delay the bad guys, so Vic directs her to shoot a flaming arrow into the fuel truck. The mission is a success, with flames engulfing the vehicle and an explosion imminent, when the mercenaries' helicopter arrives. The aircraft puts out the fire with its rotor wash, then flies around shooting at wildlife until Sheena surrenders.
Capturing the heroes was probably the worst thing that Otwani could do. Princess Zanda has a jealous streak a mile wide and the prince evidently has a weak spot for blondes. To remove the sudden competition, Zanda decides to fly the helicopter above the village and drop Sheena out. That plan fails miserably when the jungle queen summons a flock of flamingos, meaning that Zanda takes the plunge instead. Sheena dives into a tall tree just before the rotary wing aircraft hits a cliff. Meanwhile, Vic plays his trump card, threatening Otwani with the crossbow footage, and agrees to hand over the film in exchange for an end to hostilities.
Utilizing a terrain model, Sheena briefs her people on the plan of battle (Otwani has no intention of playing fair) and something like the Battle of Endor ensues. Watch for the mercenary who has one hand on the barrel of his .30 caliber machinegun; that is a hoot. If you ever meet a Marine with a blank swathe on his palm ask him if the cause was grabbing a hot machinegun barrel. In any case, the Zambulis are victorious and Otwani flees in a truck with Sheena, on her "zebra," in close pursuit. Lucky for her that Vic turned the tables on his captors and arrives just in time. The crash of his and Otwani's vehicle forcibly ejects the reporter (tsk, tsk, no seat belt) and turns him into a mass of third-degree burns. Hmmm, what could possibly save the hero?
The film is amazingly flawed at times. At many times. I just seem to have a weak spot for it. Perhaps it is the innocence displayed: a movie in which none of bad guys tries to rape the heroine and the intimate scenes between Vic and Sheena fade out before the action really starts. Unusual for Hollywood to display such restraint. Much more likely, knowing my tastes, was the incredibly silly mismatch of factors coming together just right ("zebra," music, dialog, etc.) and having an attractive leading actress didn't hurt.
Sheena is sandwiched between Jabootu's review and my own, make sure you check out Ken's article.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- Echoes do kill people.
- Secretive African tribes speak English.
- Chimpanzees are experts at guerrilla warfare.
- Helicopter rotors are made from malleable materials.
- In some countries they discriminate against people with soft feet.
- Using plastic explosive to destroy a rotten old tree is overkill.
- Ask before you kiss somebody.
- Zebra are the public safety officers of the savannah.
- "Catapult" is another word for "crossbow."
- 12 mins - She summoned a hedgehog?
- 19 mins - Tanya Roberts, naked under a waterfall. Let us give thanks for this moment.
- 31 mins - He must be a Gemini...
- 55 mins - RANDOM GRATUITOUS BREAST SHOT!
- 62 mins - It's funny when the primitive tries to use binoculars! Har, har, har!
- 72 mins - Where is the artillery or mortar fire coming from?
- 81 mins - RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WILDLIFE!
- 93 mins - "The Birds 3: Flamingo Apocalypse."
- 107 mins - That looks painful.
- Sheena: "Remove those strange skins you wear. From what animal do they come?"
Vic: "The wild silk moth. It roams in Bloomingdales."
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Shaman: "The prophecy has come to pass. On a day when the sacred mountain cries out, a golden god-child shall come from the depths of Gudjara. And she shall grow in wisdom, and be the protector of the Zambulis and all their creatures."
||Fletch: "You're not going to believe this Vic. I just saw a blonde." |
Vic: "A blonde what?"
Fletch: "A blonde, blonde, a girl! She was swinging in the trees."
Vic: "You mean a blonde gorilla?"
Fletch: "I know the difference between a gorilla and a girl."
||Vic: "Your hair smells fantastic. What did you wash it with?" |
Sheena: "Zam Zam berries. What else would a woman use?"
||Sheena: "You will be made welcome in Z'Kuru. The headman's locust bean cakes, they will be your locust bean cakes. His fermented buffalo milk will be your fermented buffalo milk. His week-old dried..." |
Vic: "Please, I'm eating."
|Theme Song|| Listen to a clip from the soundtrack. |
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|The incredible jailbreak scene, including the inappropriate musical score. It might work to make the action seem dreamlike, but the guard being electrocuted? The elephant tossing another man through the air like a rag doll?
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