Red Sonja (1985)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Red Sonja</strong> (1985)

(In French, On Cable TV, January 2019) There was a fantasy film boom in the early-to-mid-1980s, and not all of them were created equal. While Arnold Schwarzenegger’s performance as Conan in the two eponymous movies left a mark, it’s not possible to say the same about his turn in spin-off Red Sonja, or the entire movie itself. A fairly standard heroic fantasy adventure, this is a film that still earns attention today based on two things: its place on Schwarzenegger’s filmography, obviously, but also Brigitte Nielsen as the titular red-headed warrior. But looking fine and acting well are not the same thing, and Schwarzenegger in a rare supporting role only highlights how badly he did when the spotlight was away. It doesn’t help that the script is terrible, with a dull plot, terrible dialogue and sexual politics more outdated than its prehistoric setting—rape is used as a plot device, lesbianism is incarnated by the evil witch and the title character doesn’t have much agency in a movie that’s supposed to revolve around her. The result is an all-around embarrassment devoid of most of the thin guilty pleasures of its other two related movie. And yet, I can’t help thinking that in the proper hands (specifically, a female creative team), Red Sonja would be a movie ripe for a remake.

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