Movies for Gamers Who Like Movies: Deathstalker II – Duel of the Titans

Deathstalker 2: Duel of the Titans

Title Deathstalker II – Duel of the Titans
Directed by: Jim Wynorski
Genre: Sword & Sorcery

In 1987 I was working at Electronics Boutique – or “E.B.” as we in the business called it – when my manager, Tom, advised me that when I got a chance I should rent and watch Deathstalker 2.
“I haven’t seen Deathstalker I,” I replied.
“It won’t matter. It’s not that kind of movie.” He went on to explain the introduction to this film, the section before the title sequence. I remembered it for 19 years. Yet it took me 19 years to get around to watching this film.
OK, Tom! You were right. I should have rented this film back then.


The plot is that a princess has been had a portion of her soul magically split off from her body and transformed into a Doppelganger. The “good” half has escaped and now ragged and penniless, seeks help to regain her throne. Deathstalker, the notorious thief and ne’er-do-well is convinced by the good half of the princess to assault her fortress and defeat the evil sorcerer who did this to her.

Our square-jawed hero channels Indiana Jones in the opening moments of the film.


The movie opens with an action sequence, and essentially follows this simple formula: Action + Action + moment of exposition + Action + Action + love-scene + Action + Happy Ending. What’s not to like?

The MST3K Factor:

My friends and I used to make fun of poorly executed films. We still do, but now everybody thinks of it as giving the movie the MST3K treatment. We are rarely as funny as Joel, Mike or even Gypsy. However, unlike that show, we can show un-cut “R” films and provide amusing (a.k.a. “bawdy”) comments relevant to all the content.
On a scale of 1 – 10 where:
1 = “Such a great film that if I talk, somebody’s going to kick my butt.”
10 = “If I don’t point out that funny thing I noticed, I’ll explode!”
Deathstalker 2 ranks a solid 10. It is so solid that the DVD edition includes just such a treatment by the Director, the Star and the actress that plays the villainess.

The Action Factor:

The action in Deathstalker 2 is not the greatest choreography in S&S film history. But the performances are adequate, and they aren’t as silly as just the swords hitting each other again and again. A few of the stunts stick out as “well done” and the idea they’re trying to present is well conveyed on most occasions. The Amazon wrestling match was very well done, in my opinion. They at least had the good sense to hire an actual pro-wrestler for the fight, and not just some big lady.

Casting Couch:

Wow! This film is directed by Jim Wynorski, the same guy who did Chopping Mall & The Bare Wench Project. And the Star, John Terlesky, went on to direct some of his own projects including some made-for-TV stuff that’s been on the Sci-Fi channel. The female lead (in the dual-role of Reena the Seer & Eevie the Princess) is Monique Gabrielle. She’s starred in films with Tom Hanks (before he was famous), Michael Richards (before he was famous), and Robert Hays (before he was no longer famous). The female villain is played by Toni Naples, who has continued to work with the director in several more recent films. So you’ve got a direct-to-video crowd doing a Conan knock-off in Argentina. But they do something magical with that material.

I support nudity if it is necessary to the plot, seems appropriate, or the subject is totally hot.

Historical Importance:

I think the historical importance of this film is that it in almost every way presages the coming of the “Hercules” television show. The tone is the same light-hearted banter, the characters are archetypal (for the most part) and the special effects are simple. What this film didn’t have is CGI, budget for re-takes, and good lighting. If they had, you’d essentially have Hercules the “Nudity Included” Adventures. Not a bad product.

Case in point: This scene is set in a fantasy tavern. Of course there will be topless dancing! It's not Cobb County, Georgia.!

Gaming Relevance:

This movie is character driven. It isn’t about the background of the characters, or what a rich history they have; rather, it is about showing the viewer who these people are in a very short time and then letting the different characters play off each other. Nobody behaved in a way that makes you think, “Would that character have done that?” Instead, there is a strong logical internal consistency to their behavior, and a likeable light-toned air to nearly all their dialog.
You can use this kind of thing in your RPG with ease. It isn’t important “why” the evil sorcerer has made an evil succubus clone out of the Princess. We don’t care why. It’s the kind of obviously evil thing that needs to be rectified by a sneaky infiltration of the enemies HQ, and all the various complications that such a plan might have.

Lessons Learned:

  • Keep the action moving
  • Having assassins tracking the heroes can be fun
  • If things get dull, start a bar-fight
  • Rescuing damsels can lead to adventure as easily as being the adventure
  • Re-use NPCs from previous adventures (or scenes from previous movies)
  • You can re-use NPC villains just by adding capes, or changing their masks
  • Alchemists & Sorcerers can be excellent swordsmen
  • Sometimes enemies love you, but just don’t know how to say it

Peter Jackson will not be re-making Deathstalker 2. But with some D20s and some friends, you can.


Negatives about Deathstalker 2:

  • Low Budget evident everywhere
  • Acting frequently wooden
  • Special Effects are not that special
  • Lighting is horrendous
  • Full of clichés
  • Soundtrack provided by Casio keyboard

Positives about Deathstalker 2:

  • Action-Packed
  • Strong female characters
  • Strong female characters naked1
  • Excellent Pacing
  • Catchy Soundtrack
  • Script full of funny banter

About the Author

I am "The Management."