The Lost Empire (1985)

I don’t know about anyone else, but I keep a mental list of things in movies that make them do not miss flicks. Included on this list, but in no way limited to, are:

  • Ninja
  • Wizards and/or Magick
  • Catsuits
  • Kung Fu
  • Casio Soundtrack
  • Cleavage
  • Boobs
  • Bazoombas
  • Cultists in Robes
  • Homemade Weapons
  • Explosions

How does this list relate to the review you are about to read you ask dear reader? Well, let me explain….


As it turns out, around the early 80’s, a young man named Jim Wynorski (who would go on to direct Chopping Mall just 3 years later ) was just getting into filmmaking. Like many a novice filmmaker, he wasn’t sure if his first film would be his last. Being a man of principle, he did the obvious and included AS MUCH AS HE POSSIBLY COULD. Just, you know, in case he never get the chance to do it again. Seems like a sound plan to me. In the hands of a lesser (or more sane) filmmaker, this approach would have likely crashed and burned. Hard. Like the shuttle. In Jims hands though, this shapeless lump of bad ideas was transformed into a masterpiece of B, nay, C movie cinema. Something else to make note of is that this movie was actually conceived by the producer to be a loss so he could avoid taxes like the shrewd businessman he was. Little did he know that Jim Wyrnoski would use this opportunity to film maybe the only movie in his catalog that could be considered a classic, besides maybe Chopping Mall.

Lost Empire is, at its core, a movie about breasts; it has to be. I mean, the opening shot of the movie is a big set of cans squeezing their way out of a Power Girl style chest window so can you really argue that point? Or SHOULD you for that matter? Who doesn’t love boobs? Even straight girls like boobs. I’ve been to the bar, I’ve seen bar-sexuals at work. The allure of sweater meat is unavoidable. So why not embrace it and let it be the vanguard for your film? I applaud your bravery Mr Wynorski.

Sandwiched in between the lingering shots of breasts and multiple catsuit costume changes is a story about a fighting tournament hosted on a mysterious island by a man name Dr Syn Do (played by the Tall Man himself Angus Scrimm).To be honest, the final product is actually less than the sum of its parts which is rare but stands for this movie. Does this mean you shouldn’t spend your precious movie watching time on this movie then? Fuck no, find this movie and watch the shit out of it! Let me explain.


When you take a boatload of off the wall ideas and put them all together in a film, the best you can usually hope for is that the high points of the strange ideas mask the low points and it all coalesce’s into a halfway decent, if only to a select group of people, movie. Here, the overall plot involving the tournament takes a back seat to the cavalcade of ridiculous ideas we are presented with. By the end of it you don’t really care/aren’t really sure what the story was about or what happened in between boob shots, you’re watching the screen with rapt ( and maybe slightly red *wink wink*)eyes, observing every strange bit of cult movie magic Wynorski wove into The Lost Empire. Example: Just after the movie opens (with aforementioned bosoms) we see a strange, “mystic” looking (as indicated by the ruby eye obviously) statue. All of a sudden, in a puff of smoke of course, three ninja appear prepared for attack. Rather than hurling their shurkian and dispatching the guards like any normal ninja, they drop blunt looking shurikan ON STRINGS from their palms and begin to spin them. So , basically yo yo’s.

Another scene that really sticks in the brain is where one of our amply endowed protagonists summons the aid of an indian woman (comes complete with horse and heaving bosoms!)by burning a white feather she receives from the ghost of an indian chief that she saved from an assassination attempt earlier in her career.Yeah, it’s a thing that happens….why? Do you actually care? No? Didn’t think so.



There’s actually so much weirdness crammed into The Lost Empire that it’s difficult to focus on just a few examples in a non-Iliad sized review. It’s a really “can’t see the forest for the trees situation” going on here. When you’re this deep in the weird, what do you choose to focus on? To do so would be a disservice to the movie really. All I can really say to end this is that I recommend you go and find a copy, which shouldn’t be too difficult as this piece of history was just re-released on DVD, put aside your standard criteria for judging the quality of a movie, grab some friends, and enjoy the ridiculous ride that is The Lost Empire.


One response to “The Lost Empire (1985)

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