Chad B. (abrnt1) from CABERY, IL Reviewed on 3/8/2012...
A flawed film. The largest problem is Arnold is playing a character that's very similar to Conan. If Conan would have been used this film would have been more entertaining. Red Sonja worked best when used as a foil against Conan in the Marvel Comics.
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"You must learn to like men a little better."
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 09/16/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Based (very loosely) on a character created by legendary sword and sorcery fantasy writer Robert E. Howard, comes Red Sonja (1985), imbued with powers of mystical origin and seeking justice and revenge for the wrongs perpetrated upon her and her family by an evil warlord queen. The film, directed by Richard Fleischer, who also did Conan the Destroyer (1984), stars Brigitte (I was married to Sylvester Stallone once) Nielsen as the title character. Also appearing is Arnold Swarzenegger as Kalidor, a Noble warrior who aids Sonja on her quest, and the lovely Sandahl Bergman (she appeared in Conan the Barbarian as the warrior Valaria) as the evil Queen Gerden. Other notable appearances include Ronald Lacey (you may remember him as Toht from the film Raiders of the Lost Ark) as evil henchman Ikol, and Paul L. Smith (Bluto from the Robin Williams Popeye movie) as Falkon.
The film begins by relating the sad tale of Sonja and how Queen Gerden and her forces wiped out her family, supposedly I guess due to the fact the Queen wanted Sonja in some capacity (girls gone wild indeed) but Sonja refused. Left for dead, Sonja is visited by a spirit of sorts, which gives her literally gives he strength to embark on a quest of justice and revenge against the evil queen. Also, it seems the queen has stolen a powerful, carefully guarded, glowing orb right before it was meant to be destroyed, one that has powers of its' own, allowing for the possessor to control elemental forces and call down storms and earthquakes, if they so wish. Kalidor, one of the individuals in place to oversee the destruction of the orb, joins forces with Red Sonja, as their paths may differ, but they ultimately lead to the same place. An impudent, young prince named Tarn and his guard/manservant Falkon, whose kingdom was unceremoniously wiped out by Gerden as a test for her newfound powers, soon joins them. Will this small band of adventurers be able to stop Gerden and destroy the orb before the combination of the two destroys the world?
Alright, there's no denying this film has many problems...the movie basically came into existence to leech off the successes of the most excellent Conan the Barbarian (1982), and the lesser excellent sequel Conan the Destroyer (1984). Why they just didn't make another Conan film is beyond me, but I guess it was for the best, as, like Conan the Destroyer, this film garnered a PG rating, seriously hindering the level of violence inherent within the original Robert E. Howard stories. There is much violence and killing in this film, but it's extremely watered down, unlike Conan the Barbarian (which had an R rating, and was more faithful to the source material in more aspects than one). It's funny, but if you watch the trailer for this film, you'd think Arnold Swarzenegger was the star, as he was much more prominently displayed over Nielsen, but this is not a Conan movie. I did like some elements about the film. I thought the sets were very well done, and quite expansive. There was a few times when they seemed a bit too much, like in Queen Gerden's throne room...it was certainly suitable for an evil queen, but was it really necessary to have skeletons hanging around? I mean we know she's evil, but that seemed like overkill. The costumes were marginally well done, with the fighting scenes a bit better, specifically the swordplay (I don't think Swarzenegger understood the what it mean to go half-speed, as he seemed to really lay it on at times, swinging his large weapon, sword, that is...). The weakest part of this production has to be the script. The dialogue is so incredibly lame, and often resorts to having characters either speak the obvious, or put forth moronic questions and/or statements that made me groan. Also, the little comedic bits of dialogue didn't help either, as they were so poorly done and seemed quite unnatural and completely out of character. Someone else mentioned Nielsen's idiotic mullet, and I would agree, but I thought she did all right with the fighting sequences and the more athletic maneuvers, but the scenes where a stunt person took her place was quite obvious at times. I normally don't care much for children actors in films like this, as they invariably kill the mood, but the kid playing Prince Tarn wasn't too bad. Maybe if he had better lines, who knows? Bergman as Queen Gerden was good, but completely two dimensional and was passed off as a power hungry warmonger with sapphic tendencies. The plot was pretty straight-forward, and moved along well, but I was annoyed with the whole premise of some of the central characters learning lessons, like the young, snotty prince learning the value of humility and self-sacrifice, and that of Red Sonja, who suffered at the hands of Gerden's men at the beginning of the film, that not all men are bad and there is more to life than fighting, like love...I didn't mind that these elements were incorporated into the story, but I felt like I was being slapped in the face with it...Howard would do this in his books, but with a subtle professionalism nowhere to be seen here. Overall, the story's not so hot, the acting so-so, the costumes, scenery, special effects and fighting all pretty good, with the best element being the original musical score by Ennio Morricone...had the makers of this film had a better script and more material befitting an R rating (as in Conan the Barbarian), we might have really had something here.
The wide screen print here looks pretty good, and shows almost no signs of age or deterioration. The only special feature is an original theatrical trailer, but I really wasn't expecting much more. If you like the 2nd Conan film, you may enjoy this, but otherwise you might be better off renting instead of buying. You'll thank Crom...
With a name like Red Sonja, it HAS to be good!
Kiwi | NJ, USA | 08/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Firstly, anyone who takes this movie seriously has got a whole lotta issues! I love this movie! I grew up watching Red Sonja and thinking she was the strongest, coolest super karate warrior swordswoman on the planet! There are moments when it seems as if the entire movie just sort says "ok, that's all we got" and shows the surrounding country for way too long, (which is why I gave it 4 stars) but it was the 80's, people! If you're reading this review right now you're about 20 years too late to think the "special" effects are anything less than ridiculous! In an attempt to be honest, however, it is not quite worth the retail value price.Pay less for it or you'll feel kinda stupid (Best Buy- 6 or 7 dollars!) but no matter what, if you want a cheesy movie to sit and make fun of, and you're in the mood for some serious sword-swinging chick fight action, this is it! Buy it- if nothing else, it'll add a little spice to your dvd collection!"
Brigitte Nielsen and Arnold Schwarzenegger with big swords
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 03/31/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Director Richard Fleischer derailed the Conan movie franchise by making the 1984 "Conan the Destroyer" much more of a campy adventure than John Milius did with the original 1982 "Conan the Barbarian." However, for this 1985 Conan spin-off of a Robert E. Howard inspired creation, the warrior-woman Red Sonja. In the title role is the statuesque model Brigitte Nielsen, making her film debut, with Arnold Schwarzenegger playing Kalidor, the Conan-clone who plays a pivotal supporting role in that he usually only shows up to save the film's heroine. However, given the idea that Red Sonja has been given her warrior strength to avenge the murder of her family and her own violent rape, the idea that a man has to keep bailing her own clearly runs against the character's ideology (and you just cannot ignore that sort of thing when the title character has been empowered by the gods as long as she keeps true to her vows and avoids sex).
Arnold is a more engaging character this time around, which is rather easy since nobody is as sullen as Conan, and this is the first time where you really get a sense of fun in one of his movies (his serious resume at that point was the two Conan films and the first "Terminator"). The problem is that by the time he first shows up the best part of the movie is over, and for every decent moment provided by Arnold there are three or four scenes with Ernie Reyes, Jr. as the annoying Prince Tarn, reducing the movie to something like "Home Alone" with swords. The plot for "Red Sonja" involves a quest for a giant green orb and an evil queen (Sandhal Bergman), which makes it a lot like "Conan the Destroyer." Indeed, the worst thing I can say about this sword and sorcery effort is that it made me like the Conan sequel a whole lot better, which is not whatt I was hoping for at all.
One of the reasons we are surprised by how bad of a film we are watching is that the crew includes cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno and art director Danilo Donati, who usually worked with Federico Fellini, and the music is by Ennio Morricone, who did all of the epic scores for Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns. I know that neither one of those two celebrated directors would have touched this project, but one of their assistant directors could have turned in a more competent performance that Fleischer. "Conan the Barbarian" remains the best Sword & Sorcery film to date, and with his two entries Fleischer gets the lion share of credit for sending the whole genre right done the tubes. Milius is planning a King Conan movie for 2005, so there is hope, but those faintly flickering flames have gotten really small in the last twenty years."
An Eighties Classic
Lawrance M. Bernabo | 06/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was raised on Conan and Red Sonja, so I can't help but highly recommend these movies. No, the acting isn't great, and there are homosexual connotations that I just didn't catch when I was six, but these movies have stood the test of time-- at least in my estimation. Wonderful adventures with unforgetable characters, and the swords are just darn cool."
Fantasy Filled Adventure!
Timotee | Torrance, CA USA | 05/28/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A prequel of sorts to the 'Conan' movies. The gods were listening to me when I asked for more Arnold damage! He stars in this magical treasure as Kalidor (not Conan, upsetting!). Brigitte Nielsen is the red-headed warrior and she can really kick some stern! After the death of her sister, she vows to get revenge on the evil queen. Recycling some of the Conan plot, but that is awesome! Kalidor wrestles this metal alligators in a pit, fights Sonja and defeats many evil people in a castle! I was honored to have watched such an awesome movie as this. It's a shame that this film is not on DVD and it's a crime that MGM hasn't released this yet. Arnold Schwarzenegger makes this movie worth while and oh yeah! I forgot that Ernie Reyes Jr. was in this! He's a little runt of a prince and he's in love with Sonja, but he's too much of a toddler for such a warrior! YES!"