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Red Sonja (1985)

by on 2012/02/12

“Put him over your knee and beat some manners into him.”

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Arnold Schwarzenegger  (The Terminator) once said he believes Red Sonja to be the worst film he’s ever made.

Now just think about that for a minute …coughKindergartenCopcough.

Hacker Renders told me that Arnie even joked that Red Sonja is used as an object of fear and discipline in his home.  Mr. Pumping Iron is reported to have said: “When my kids get out of line, they’re sent to their room and forced to watch Red Sonja ten times. I never have too much trouble with them.”

I realized I had inadvertently tested out this parenting concept when I recently hosted a birthday sleepover for a bunch of squealing teenagers. My solitary screening of Red Sonja kept them out of the living room like nobody’s business.

Instead, they hastily retreated to the kitchen and bedrooms upstairs talking via Skype to boys, breaking the sound barrier and whatnot.

Red Sonja really keeps the young people away. So I won.

Well, I guess I sort of won. By no stretch of the imagination is this great cinema. Most of it wasn’t even passable if I am really honest with myself. I do really have a soft spot for all things barbarian – and barbarian this is.

Therefore, I am afraid I am forced by my barbarian blood to give the lady with the biggest, reddest mullet in cinematic history a passing grade.

Brigitte Nielsen cuts a strapping, enormous Nordic figure as Red Sonja the wronged lady with a strong sword arm.  However, it isn’t really Red Sonja’s arms that steal the show. In this movie you get to see a great deal of those long, long Brigitte Nielsen legs that go on forever and ever.

There’s an evil queen Gedren played by Sandahl Bergman (Conan the Barbarian). She is totally coo-coo for Red Sonja’s cocoa-puffs. But Red Sonja is as homophobic as she is later stabby so she spurns Gedren’s advances. Feeling bitchy because her ever-present golden mask is probably itchy, Gedren mightily smites Red Sonja’s family. As an aside, Gedren also always sounds like she’s shouting at a waiter who mixed up her order in a Brooklyn deli.

Tired of Gedren’s snitty ways, the mulleted red-head sets about learning all there is to know about fighting and killing.

Along the way she runs into Conan (shush… do you want to get sued?)…I mean, Kalidor …  … right, Kalidor, that’s it. He’s all strong and oiled and helpful and stuff. But he’s not Conan. Forget that part. Cough.

Also along the way there’s a prickly green bowling ball of doom, there’s an annoying, ill-behaved brat of a prince Tarn (Ernie Reyes) and his dim-witted helpmate Falkon (Paul L. Smith). And there are lots and lots of sword fights, oh yeah, and the end of the world.

Me? I’m pro sword fights. Maybe this is just the relatively peaceful sleepover that this movie blessed me with talking here but I find I am also pro-Red Sonja – albeit by a very a slim margin.

* * *

89 min

Rated PG-13 for the high-cut barbarian costumes of the 80s, Arnie’s quivering pectorals and Red Sonja’s pro-spanking thoughts on child-rearing

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