This movie is one of the best bad movies I have ever seen, and it easily out-funnies the original Deathstalker movie for the title of best bad fantasy movie I have seen (so far). Considering how uproariously bad Deathstalker was, this is no small feat. Yet Sinbad accomplishes this and even makes it look easy.
Lou Ferrigno plays the title role, and if that isn't inspired casting I don't know what is. Well, I suppose if they had gotten the comedian Sinbad to play Sinbad, that might have been more inspired -- but it also would probably have been genuinely funny, so the movie wouldn't have been nearly as bad.
The movie uses the gimmick of having the story narrated by a person reading to another person; in this case, a woman reading to her young daughter. However, the two actresses playing the mother and daughter (especially the mother) are so horrible that all the narration parts are nearly intolerable. Worse yet, whenever the mother is doing a voice-over in a scene, everyone else stands around waiting for her to finish like they have nothing better to be doing. It's worse than The Wonder Years ever thought of being.
The story itself involves the wise and benevolent Calif of Basra being put under the spell of his evil vizier, Jaffar. Jaffar wants something, although I'm not certain what exactly that something was. I think it was either the Calif's daughter, rule over the city, or the death of Sinbad. Maybe it was all three, or a combination of them. No matter. It's all inconsequential; the man playing Jaffar is such a hammy over-actor that you can't pay attention to what he is saying because you're too busy laughing at how he's saying it. He steals every scene he's in with his antics and vocal gyrations and was arguably the highlight of the film.
Sinbad and his crew (who consist of "Prince Ali," "Poochie the Dwarf," "The Bald Cook," "The Chinese Soldier of Fortune," and "The Viking Warrior") sail into the city after Jaffar has worked his evil magic. Everyone is apparently scared of the vizier, so they're all staying indoors. Consequently, there is absolutely nobody in the city when Sinbad's ship docks. "Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Where is everybody? There's nobody here," Sinbad says astutely. "You know there's something here I don't like."
Sinbad goes to the palace, where Jaffar catches him quite easily and dumps him into a pit of snakes. All of Sinbad's crew are taken to the torture chamber, where they are faced with bone-chilling torture devices, such as the bath tub full of sock-puppet piranhas and some weird little alien dude.
Sinbad talks the snakes into letting him tie them into a rope ("I won't hurt you," he says, as he proceeds to tie knots in their tails and use them to support his massive bulk as he climbs out of his prison) and escapes. After freeing his pals and dancing with a guy with a chain for about fifteen minutes, he embarks upon his quest. It seems that Jaffar has flung four of the five Sacred Gems of Basra out into the world somewhere, and Sinbad has to go find them. It's never adequately explained why Sinbad has to find them, or why Jaffar flung the jewels across the sea in the first place. But something bad will happen if Sinbad doesn't get them back into their settings by some ill-defined time.
His first stop is an island inhabited by a rock creature. Sinbad fights the rock creature, and we are treated to one of the best bad features of this movie -- whenever something "important" is happening, the scene is shot in slow-motion. This was done to try and disguise the fact that nothing of interest is happening on screen during these times. After a five minute fight (which would have taken about thirty seconds if they'd run it at normal speed) Sinbad defeats the rock creature (by simply pushing on his head and knocking it off) and makes off with the first gem. At the second stop, Sinbad and his crew get seduced by the tumbling Amazons. Only quick thinking by The Bald Cook and Poochie the Dwarf saves them. At the third stop, Sinbad and friends fight the Empty Suits Of Armor That Can Only Be Defeated By Viciously Denting Them. Sinbad and the boys get separated, and Sinbad has to make his own way to the fourth gem, where he defeats a weird muck creature by doing something that could have saved his butt many times before, if not for the fact that the plot didn't allow him to think of it, apparently.
Throughout this ridiculousness, Jaffar and his unnecessary and unexplained ally are watching the proceedings via some magical means. After each victory, Sinbad turns and stares directly at the camera and taunts Jaffar -- this causes the vizier to go into spastic fits of bodily and verbal gyrations. How Sinbad knew Jaffar was watching, or how he knew what direction to "look" is not explained, and I'm actually quite thankful for that; I'm afraid the explanation would have been twice as painful and contrived as the mystery.
Sinbad makes his way back to the city and confronts Jaffar. Jaffar first tries to trap Sinbad in a prison of light beams. Sinbad struggles with the beams (the film is run forwards and backwards a few times to simulate actual struggling, something Ferrigno was apparently incapable of) but finally escapes. Jaffar then conjures up a double of Sinbad to fight for him. Unfortunately for Jaffar, Evil Sinbad is no match for Good Sinbad, and soon the vizier is defeated. The gems are restored to their settings, and the good princess frees herself from one of Jaffar's elaborate contraptions; why she never thought to do this before is beyond me.
If you only see one bad movie this year, make it this one. You'll thank me for it later.
Best line: "HA!"
Scene to watch for: Jaffar saying "HA!"
Things that make you go "Huh?": Why Jaffar says "HA!"