- Movie Rating -

Sheena, Queen of the Jungle (1984)

| August 17, 1984

I’ve never heard of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle as a character.  I suspect that maybe she’s supposed to be the female equivalent of Tarzan, but if this movie is any indication, I may have an idea of why she isn’t as popular.  Sheena Queen of the Jungle is one of the dumbest jungle action movies that I have ever seen.  It borrows far too heavily from those quickie jungle adventures of the past where the production values were on par with your average Three Stooges short and the dialogue was just as dramatic.  The filmmakers make decisions here that are baffling, an attack on an enemy compound by a faithful elephant and later and attack on enemy planes by a flock of killer flamingos.  It has to be seen to be believed.

Sheena is a white goddess whose story isn’t a million miles removed from Tarzan: while still a child (played by Kirsty Lindsay), her parents killed while on a scientific expedition to Africa and so, newly orphaned, she is carried by the African Zambouli to the tribal Shaman (Princess Elizabeth of Toro) who deems that she is the answer to a prophecy because, well she’s white and the Shaman says that the tribe will be offered a golden-haired protector.  So, basically, colonialism by divine decree.  I’m not sure I get it, but okay.

Anyway, Sheena grows up into a golden jungle goddess (now played by Tanya Roberts) who knows only what she has been taught in the jungle and hasn’t seen a white person since she was a child.  Never-the-less her skin is a beautiful toasted white and her hair and make-up looks like she’s spent the day at a beauty shot on 5th Avenue.  And for whatever reason, she has been taught to communicate with the animals by holding her hand up to her forehead and looking into the sky.  It looks as dumb as it sounds.

But the movie does more than just look at Roberts’ gorgeous body, there is a plot to be had and here goes: Sheena gets mixed up in a conspiracy to murder the king of Tigora.  When the king’s brother Otwani does the crime, he then frames the Shaman to get her off of the Zambouli land because he wants to valuable titanium deposits that are found there.  So, Sheena teams up with an journalist from the west named Vic Casey (Ted Wass) to help protect the land by getting rid of Otwani.

That’s a pretty heavy plot for a movie this stupid.  I couldn’t believe the dialogue here, especially when the man from the west tries to communicate with this jungle goddess who has never seen a city before.  When he kisses her, she offers a question: “Mouths are given to us to eat with.  Why do you touch yours to mine?”  She’s a quick study.

Sheena is easily the most ridiculous action movie that I have ever seen.  Critics ragged on Temple of Doom for being too silly and pointless, but this movie has it beat by a country mile.  We can admire the jungle scenery and Sheen’s generous nude shower scenes under the waterfall but any time in this movie that anyone is permitted to speak, you wonder if they aren’t borrowing their dialogue from an old Tarzan movie from the 30s.  This is incredible.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1984) View IMDB Filed in: Action