Flash Gordon is an American football hero who is skyjacked aboard Dr. Hans Zarkov’s rocketship along with his beautiful girlfriend Dale Arden. The threesome are drawn into the influence of the planet Mongo, ruled by Emperor Ming the Merciless. The evil Ming has been testing Earth with unnatural disasters, and deeming our world a threat to his rule. He also intends to take Dale as his concubine, attempts to execute Flash and intends to destroy Earth. Flash must avoid the amorous attentions of Ming’s daughter, and unite the warring kingdoms of Mongo to rescue Dale and save our world.
It all works in this case
The filmmakers were obviously aware of, and aimed to incorporate, everything attached to Flash Gordon—from Raymond’s comic strip, to the old Universal serials, to the semi-pornographic parody “Flesh Gordon,” to even the post-STAR WARS mythology that audiences in the eighties would expect. Surprisingly, for such a diverse melange, it actually works.
Unlike the other space movies of the time, this film emphasized sets and costumes rather than visual effects, and as a result its overall look dates less than many spaceoperas of the late seventies/early eighties. For those who dismiss it–and there are many–be aware that there are also many of us who love it and have re-watched more than you. It’s deligtfully rewatchable and nowadays is an indisputable example of what is termed a cult film.