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Film / Sheena

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Sheena is a 1984 Columbia Pictures film starring Tanya Roberts as Janet Ames.

As a child, Janet came to Africa with her geologist parents, who were killed in a cave-in. She was raised by the shaman of the local Zambuli tribe and named Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. She grows up and has to protect the Zambuli lands from an evil prince who wants to strip mine the tribal lands. She is assisted by an American reporter, Vic Casey, who of course falls madly in love with her.

Based on the comic book Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.

This film contains examples of:

  • The Alleged Car: Vic and Fletch's rented Range Rover tends to stall out, although this is strange given the car's fairly solid reputation as a hardy offroader.
  • Amoral Afrikaner: The white soldiers, but especially Jorgensen and the helicopter pilot.
  • And This Is for...: When Chief Haromba has Jorgensen at spearpoint near the end.
    Jorgensen: I was only following orders.
    Haromba: [unswayed] For Z'Kuru! [kills Jorgensen]
  • Bald of Evil: One of the soldiers, Blau, has a shaved head.
  • Battle Couple: Sheena and Vic become this near the end.
  • Bookends: The movie begins and ends with a healing earth ceremony to cure someone, and both are identical visually: the tribe's wise-woman is overlooking from a nearby hilltop with a leopard pal in both instances, and both times there are newcomers present, whose wind up in the middle of commotion along with their car and are basically ignored by the tribe and allowed to remain as spectators.
  • Brick Joke: Boto's House Rules that he beats Fletch at cards with. At the end, Fletch can be seen teaching them to Juka on the plane.
  • Bulungi: There's no such country as Tigora.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Zanda, who proudly declares herself "the most wicked woman in Tigora."
  • Clueless Aesop: As Sheena says, "Guns are bad!"; they kill people after all. Bows and spears, on the other hand, are good because... they also kill people?
  • Character Title: Sheena is the main character.
  • Chaste Hero: Sheena, having never experienced any form of romance before, questions why Vic touches his mouth to hers after he kisses her.
  • Disney Villain Death: Zanda, who falls out of the helicopter.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Sheena. She flat out says "Guns are bad!" and extorts the virtues of spears and arrows.
  • The Dragon: Colonel Jorgensen.
  • Driven by Envy: Zanda becomes intensely jealous of Sheena, whose mere mention inspires notable desire in her husband Otwani. For the rest of the film, Zanda is set on killing Sheena.
  • Earthy Barefoot Character: Just like her comic book counterpart, Sheena is a nature loving tribal jungle dweller and barefooter, except where they forgot to edit out the Tanya's sandals.
  • Eagle Land: The Americans, particularly Vic. He certainly means well, but tends to come across as condescending.
  • Eye Scream: Happens to the soldiers' helicopter pilot.
  • The Evil Prince: Prince Otwani, who wants to strip mine the land of its natural resources.
  • Fat Best Friend: Fletch to Vic.
  • Faux Action Girl: While Sheena certainly knows how to use a bow and arrow, less emphasis is placed on Sheena's fighting prowess and more on her psychic abilities.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Sheena. Every animal is her friend, without exception, even normally-vilified snakes.
  • Great Escape: When Sheena rescues the Shaman from prison, she goes all out, even to the point of having Chango the elephant push a water tower over onto the prison itself to completely destroy it (after she's safely gotten the Shaman out of course).
  • He Knows Too Much: Otwani abides by this trope to the letter. He poisons Grizzard because of this, and it's also why he wants to kill Vic.
  • Hellish Copter: The soldiers' helicopter is brought down by a flock of killer flamingoes who peck out the pilot's eyes.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Vic is being escorted in a Land Rover by two Mooks. He throws them both out, then climbs into the driver's seat in while the vehicle is still driving.
  • House Rules: Boto has some pretty strange and confusing rules for the card games he runs.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Grizzard, likely due to the fact he chain smokes. Otwani helps him on his way by poisoning his meds.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Sheena, who bathes nude underneath waterfalls and in streams (which would have guaranteed at least PG-13 rating by itself had it been made after 1984). When among her adopted tribe there's no issue; the Zambulis apparently regularly see one another naked due to different cultural values. But when she does it when she's with Vic, he's visibly uncomfortable with it - however Sheena, due to her upbringing, is confused as to why.
  • Jerk Jock: Otwani is both a football star, and an amoral, murderous schemer.
  • Jungle Princess: Sheena is a young woman of European extraction who has been raised in a jungle environment.
  • Just Following Orders: Jorgensen tries to use this to justify his role in the massacre of Z'Kuru, a native village. It doesn't work.
  • Kick the Dog: The helicopter pilot gets angry that Sheena has evaded him, so he vents his frustration by strafing a nearby herd of antelope. Fortunately it appears he fails to hit anything.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: When the African man is cured of his cancer by being buried up to his neck in the healing earth, he emerges completely nude. The film shows him from the front, not the rear, although it's shot from a sufficient distance. Later, Vic is cured of his third degree burns in the same manner, and is naked when he emerges, too, although the tribesmen put a cloth around his waist, so he's seen naked only briefly.
  • Mighty Whitey: The tribe's prophecy specifically states a "golden god child" will save them. Janet Ames (later Sheena) is a white, blonde American.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Tanya Roberts wears a skimpy two-piece throughout the film and has not one, but two, uncensored bathing scenes.
  • My Car Hates Me: When Fletch is trying to escape from the soldiers in the Range Rover, it stalls and the engine refuses to turn over.
  • Native Guide: Juka (who shows Vic and Fletch around town) and Boto, who serves as Fletch's tracker once he has to venture into the savannah.
  • Nubile Savage: Sheena, who's constantly walking around in a skimpy fursuit, filmed with her legs or cleavage in focus, and even takes a Waterfall Shower.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Boto. He pretends to be just a weird middle-aged drunken guy who cheats at cards. In reality he's a Scarily Competent Tracker.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Otwani's destruction of the village of Z'Kuru and the massacre of its people is his most evil act in the film, but it isn't without reasons. It has the bonus of boosting morale among his men ("A little killing's gonna cheer them up."), and he also makes it plain he wants to leave survivors, so they can warn other villages, hoping that the Zambulis, afraid of the coming army, will flee, allowing the soldiers to roll in unopposed.
  • Private Military Contractors: Jorgensen's men appear to be this.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Invoked by Sheena, and criticized by Vic. When Vic asks if the tribe has firearms, Sheena angrily responds, "Never! Guns are bad!" She says her people will use bows and arrows and other such things. "Against machine guns? Against armored cars?" cries Vic, horrified at what he envisions as a slaughter. "You make me wanna cry!" When the battle against the soldiers actually happens, though, this trope is played straight - the natives pretty easily trounce the villains and their advanced weaponry.
    • Also played literally straight at a few points, at least the rock part - big boulders get rolled down onto the soldiers.
  • Running Gag: Fletch's weird "water diet."
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Wadman, who at one point is able to deduce from very deep zebra hoofprints that it's carrying two people, and from this figure out it's Sheena and Vic on horseback.
    • However, he's only as good at his job as the plot requires. At one point, Sheena and Vic have climbed a tree. Wadman is able to find their footprints and even deduce that Vic tripped and fell at one point, but fails to comprehend that the reason the tracks end is because they're up in the tree right above him. Heck, he can't even answer the question of whether or not they kept going past that point. He basically seems to act as if he believes his prey just vanished into thin air.
      Jorgensen: I asked, did they go on?
      Wadman: I already told you. I ain't sure.
    • Then there's Boto, the seemingly goofy card player who helps Fletch find Vic.
    • Utterly averted with poor Vic, who mistakes lion pawprints for a zebra's hoofprints.
      Vic: Footprints. Running, I think. Hey, how many toes has a zebra got, if any?
      Fletch: [to himself] He thinks he's the last of the Mohicans!
  • Scenery Porn: Besides the score, the film's main saving grace is the stunningly beautiful cinematography showing off the African countryside in all its splendor.
  • Schmuck Bait: How Vic overcomes Blau in the back of the Land Rover. He turns the volume up on his portable radio really loud to annoy him, then when an angry Blau moves to turn it off, Vic jumps him and throws him out.
    Vic: Nice melody, huh?
  • Sidekick: Fletch spends a lot of the film spectated from Vic and Sheena, but ultimately fills this role. Interestingly, he doesn't immediately go back to help them, pondering about the severe risk involved, as well as how he could become famous by breaking the story himself, but does do the right thing in the end.
    • Boto and Juka, who help Fletch throughout the later part of the movie, could be considered sidekicks to the main sidekick.
  • Standard Hollywood Strafing Procedure: Done by the helicopter against a herd of deer.
  • Stern Chase: Pretty much the entire middle portion of the film can be summed up as "Sheena and Vic race ahead of the bad guys trying to beat them back to Gudjara Mountain."
  • Tempting Fate: Sheena's parents, as they're entering the cave.
    Betsy: The wobblies. Remember what Chief Haromba said.
    Phillip: Yeah, these caves can have strange echo effects. But you know as well as I do, Bets; echoes don't kill people.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Sheena's mother, Betsy Ames, screams out her daughter's name in the middle of an unstable cave, resulting in a massive cave-in that kills her and her husband.
    • Making it worse is is the fact Chief Haromba warned them about the cave's instability beforehand.
  • Waterfall Shower: Sheena takes two.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: The British John Forgeham attempts what seems to be an Afrikaans accent as Jorgensen, but it renders him The Unintelligible at times. For example, when yelling, "Move, you cretins!" it comes off as "Maul your curtains!"