The tyrant Gedren seeks the total power in a world of barbarism. She attacks and kills the keepers of a powerful talisman just before it is destroyed. Gedren then uses the power of the talisman in her raid of the city Hablac. Red Sonja, sister of the keeper, sets out with her magic sword to overthrow Gedren. The talisman's master Kalidor follows to protect her. Of course they fall in love - however Red Sonja's power bases on the oath to never give herself to any man... Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
Arnold Schwarzenegger's character of Kalidor was originally to have been a reprisal of Conan (the star of the comic book where Red Sonja first appeared), but the film did not acquire the rights to this name. An unofficial explanation endorsed by fans is that Kalidor is one of Conan's "traveling names," a common feature of multi-national mythical/legendary heroes such as Zeus aka Jupiter and J.R.R. Tolkien's Gandalf aka Mithrandir. See more »
When Red Sonja and her companions are climbing a sheer wall to enter Queen Gedren's castle, her hair and clothing items are hanging "into" the wall, revealing that the actors are in fact crawling across the floor. See more »
I'm not a mercenary. No body pays me. And if I feel someone one owes me, I take it.
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Inept sword 'n' sorcery flick which pretty much destroyed its own genre.
Red Sonja is a career-step-in-the-wrong-direction for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Having made a couple of sword 'n' sorcery films (as Conan) he had moved onto slightly more serious acting roles in films like The Terminator and Commando, only to make a mystifying return to the sword 'n' sorcery genre for this 1985 debacle. It's hard to figure out why he bothered, as this is weaker than both Conan films in every conceivable department. Allegedly, this was to have been the third Conan film, but for one reason or another the emphasis was shifted onto the leading female character, the titular red-head, leaving poor old Arnold to play an incredibly dull supporting role. Spare a thought, too, for director Richard Fleischer who had given the world classics like 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Fantastic Voyage, The Boston Strangler and 10 Rillington Place. In this - his penultimate film - Fleischer also has taken a gigantic career step backwards.
Evil queen Gedren (Sandahl Bergman) wants to rule the world, and she needs a priceless and powerful talisman to do so. She and her brutish army storm a keep populated by priestesses and steal the said talisman, massacring the helpless priestesses as they go. One of the dead priestesses has a sister named Sonja (Brigitte Nielsen), a fiery red-headed warrior, who upon hearing of her sister's death swears revenge upon the evil Gedren. Sonja rides across the land in search of Gedren's lair. Along the way she picks up travelling companions in the shape of a boy prince, Tarn (Ernie Reyes Jr) and his bodyguard Falkon (Paul Smith). She also meets the muscular warrior Conan - sorry, I mean Kalidor (!) - who offers to join her in her quest. Initially Sonja doesn't want the help of Kalidor (Arnold Schwarzenegger), preferring instead to prove that she can confront and defeat her enemies alone, but eventually she warms to him and accepts his assistance.
Red Sonja is a staggeringly poor film, all the more so when one muses that it was made in 1985 when the sword 'n' sorcery genre was close to its end. It seems so simplistic and amateurish that one could easily mistake it for an early example of its kind. The performances are poor on the whole, ranging from Bergman's embarrassingly OTT villain to Reyes' unbelievably irritating spoilt brat to Schwarzenegger's wooden and unenthusiastic hero. Nielsen is slightly better as the heroine - presumably full of enthusiasm at the thought of being in her first starring role - but she is let down very badly by the stupidity of Clive Exton and George MacDonald Fraser's script. The film is riddled with goofs, including a scene where Schwarzenegger is seen in close-up hacking down bad guys but in a long-shot in the same sequence there isn't a corpse in sight. Technically it is very inept too, with sub-standard special effects and appallingly mechanical monsters. There are a few compensations, such as Ennio Morricone's enjoyable music (Morricone spent a great deal of the '80s providing good music for awful films, e.g The Island, Treasure of the Four Crowns and Hundra). Another compensation is Giuseppe Rotunno's lensing of the locations - in fact, much of the time it's a hell of a lot more gratifying to look at the lovely scenery than the actors standing in the foreground! There were very few sword 'n' sorcery films after Red Sonja, so in some ways it might go down in history as the film which destroyed its own genre.
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