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Red Sonja (1985)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
Genres:
Action, Adventure, Fantasy Adventure, Sword-And-Sorcery
Director:
Richard Fleischer Richard Fleischer
Starring:
Brigitte Nielsen Brigitte Nielsen
Arnold Schwarzenegger Arnold Schwarzenegger
Sandahl Bergman Sandahl Bergman
Paul L. Smith Paul L. Smith
Ernie Reyes Jr. Ernie Reyes Jr.
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5.1 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: December 14, 2007
Almost since the birth of film, the sword and sorcery genre has been around and pumping out excellent movies which range from the classics to the cult classics. Sure, there were certain periods of time where they were more popular than others, but they were almost always around and you could bank on getting a new release in the genre at least once every other year. Then, we found ourselves in the year 1982, and a little Schwarzenegger flick called Conan the Barbarian hit theaters. This film opened up the floodgates for numerous imitators (some good, most awful), it produced a wretched little sequel, and it also set the stage for tonight's film: Red Sonja, also known as the film that basically killed the genre. Folks, I'm not going to sugar-coat it: this movie sucked, and when a movie sucks so bad that it kills an entire genre, you know things are looking bad.

The storyline for this one has a solid foundation, and really, it could have worked in the hands of a more competent director (and minus one horrific child actor). Wait, let me rephrase that: Richard Fleischer was certainly more than competent behind the camera as proven by his track record, but with this material? He might as well have been Uwe Boll's prodigal son. Anyway, our storyline follows Sonja (Brigitte Nielsen in her debut role, long before she fell for Flavor Flav), a young lady whose parents have been killed and whose village has been burned to the ground. She grows to become a powerful warrior, swears revenge against those who have wronged her, yatta yatta yatta... you should know how these movies go by now.

Her nemesis comes in the form of Queen Gedren (Sandahl Bergman), an evil woman who has stolen a powerful talisman that gives its wielder virtually limitless power - so much power, in fact, that it can quite literally destroy the world, and will more than likely do so in just thirteen days. Sonja sets out to defeat this woman and destroy the talisman so that nobody else can ever have a chance at abusing its power, and aiding her in her quest is the mighty Kalidor (Arnold Schwarzenegger), the six-year-old Prince Tarn (Ernie Reyes Jr.), and of course, Tarn's man-servant Falkon (Paul L. Smith). Along the way, the group will encounter hordes of warriors, all sorts of vicious beasts and deadly traps, and yes, even a mechanical fish.

The worst moment of the entire thing comes when one realizes that the annoying comic relief kid is going to be one of the main characters of the film. You see, Sonja stumbles across this little brat in a short scene towards the beginning of the film, and there, we watch as he bosses around the much older and much stronger Falkon while constantly berating and yelling at him the entire time. This kid is far more annoying than any other child actor I've seen, but thankfully, Sonja leaves them behind and it seems like we're getting on with things. Then... the duo shows up again, joins Sonja in her fight against evil, and the movie completely turns to shit as a result. What was it about the eighties that made filmmakers want to insert kids into the leading roles of almost every goddamned movie? It still happens today, granted, but it was almost an epidemic back then, and many a fine movie was ruined because of it.

As far as the rest of the movie goes, well, it isn't a whole lot better. For starters, let's take a look at the "bright" side: Brigitte Nielsen as Red Sonja. The woman had the look and she had plenty of energy, but sadly, that doesn't translate to a stellar performance. She wasn't awful, mind you, but it was quite obvious from the opening scene onwards that this was her debut film and that she had quite a way to go before becoming a full-fledged actress. Then we have Arnold Schwarzenegger, a man who isn't exactly known for his acting prowess, but he is a man who can turn in some damned entertaining performances nonetheless. Here, he not only plays second fiddle to a rookie, but he also turns in one of the most wooden performances of his career. That statement would be bad enough for most actors, but for Arnold, that really says something. Still, it's Arnold, but unfortunately, the man isn't on screen too often (his appearance here was more than a cameo, but not by much), so we're left with the child actor as the main sidekick, and, well... read the previous paragraph.

Assuming that wasn't bad enough, the rest of the movie consists of dull, uninspired action sequences: Sonja swings her sword, guys fall to the ground, repeat over and over again. The special effects are laughable - I wasn't kidding about the mechanical fish - the storyline trudges along at an ungodly pace, and the whole film is just a goddamned mess. I love this type of film and I was expecting something along the lines of Conan, but what I got was complete and utter rubbish. 2/10.
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