Sydney Morning Herald

2 December 1996

(show started in Australia - 12 December 1996)


Buxom biff artist


Ten, 7.30 pm

YOUNG fans of Hercules (and they are legion) will be delighted with this spin-off, but parents of those fans may be less than enthralled.

Xena, warrior princess, is a hugely buxom person, a kind of female pastiche of Power Ranger, Ninja Turtle, Bruce Lee and Captain Planet, except she ululates fearsomely while shredding the foe and, gosh, aren't there a lot of them?

Xena was allegedly once "a provocative and militant villainess bent on destruction", but has now morphed into "a heroine on a mission committed to fighting for good and helping mankind".

This impressive wench (clad rather scantily in some kind of S&M leather harness thingie that creates a Wonderbra effect, hugely enhanced by metal whorlie bits around each breast) apparently captivated American audiences with her portrayal of the character in three episodes of Hercules.

Xena is produced by the same team that delivered Hercules and it uses the same format - high-action martial arts, amazing special effects and a kind of moron's mythology.

New Zealand actress Lucy Lawless stars as Xena, dedicated to fighting the evil warlord Draco and these 22 upcoming episodes were filmed in New Zealand (which the production notes, incidentally, refer to as "the distant frontier of known civilisation".)

The series is leavened by humour and I rather enjoyed Xena's comrade, Gabrielle, who recklessly follows Xena in search of excitement, using her sharp tongue to avoid conflict - unlike Xena who disembowels first and asks questions later.

Xena film-makers Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi are keenly aware of the unfortunate attraction of such lethal fighting skills as the two-fingered pinch to neck pressure points; the headlock using knees; the throat punch combined maniacal headbutt and, of course, the chakram throw where a razor-sharp, discus-like weapon neatly removed one's head.

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