Once upon a time Brigitte Nielsen was famous for something other than being Sylvester Stallone’s ex-wife. She was a beautiful Danish model (that means from Denmark – she didn’t model pastries) and a 22-year-old making her acting debut in RED SONJA alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger. From director Richard Fleischer (THE VIKINGS, 10 RILLINGTON PLACE) RED SONJA is an extraordinary movie that can only have been made in the 80s. Everything is as it should be: cheap sets, tremendous hair, and Schwarzenegger acting his socks off.
RED SONJA (Nielsen) sees her family killed and is given the responsibility, and strength (by some weird ghost thing that looks like a used tissue) to fight for their honour against Queen Gedren (Sandahl Bergman – ALL THAT JAZZ) who has stolen a talisman capable of destroying worlds. With 13 days to save humanity Red Sonja teams with Kalidor (Schwarzenegger), Falkon (Paul Smith – DUNE) and Prince Tarn (Ernie Reyes, Jr. – RUSH HOUR 2) in a quest to save us all… oh, and in a strange quirk Red Sonja doesn’t like men, having taken a vow to only love those who try to kill her (probably a lesbian vow), that is until Arnie flops his Austrian wood out.
In terms of dodgy Arnie films RED SONJA is somewhere between RAW DEAL (unwatchable) and KINDERGARTON COP (just about watchable) but what the hell does this matter? It’s flawed, lovely genius with all your action staples: big weapons, a heinous baddie, a smug upstart who gets their comeuppance and a leading man who can’t act. It’s even got a couple of really poor monsters who meet their demise at Arnie’s hands. Speaking of Arnie, he isn’t the lead name here – top billing is given to Nielsen who manages to give the kind of performance that would embarrass Keanu Reeves; I won’t say it’s wooden but if you replaced her with a chair you probably wouldn’t notice. This is, of course, all part of the film’s charm. It’s absurdity and amateur execution made me fall in love all those years ago and I still pop it in the DVD player every few months when I need a mulleted woman in my life.
Keep it at THN all this month for Guilty Pleasures aplenty.