Red Sonja (1985)

red sonja poster 1985 movie
2.5 Overall Score
Story: 2/10
Acting: 1/10
Visuals: 3/10

Red Sonja has potential

Red Sonja's potential is wasted

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Red Sonja

Studio:  Dino De Laurentiis Company

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure/Comic Book/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  July 3, 1985

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


Prince Tarn…I hate you.

Red Sonja (Brigitte Nielsen) rejects the advances of Queen Gedren (Sandahl Bergman) resulting in the deaths of her parents and brother.  Blessed by a spirit promising revenge, Red Sonja begins her quest to become the master of the sword and avenge the deaths.  When her sister reveals Gedren has captured the Talisman, Red Sonja must venture after Gedren to Berkubane to retrieve it.  Joined by a barbarian named Kalidor (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a young prince named Tarn (Ernie Reyes, Jr.), and Tarn’s guardian Falkon (Paul L. Smith), Red Sonja must stop the threat of Gedren forever and save the world from destruction.


Oh no! An iron dragon sea-serpenty thing!

Directed by Richard Fleischer, Red Sonja was meant to be a spin-off of the popular Conan films.  The movie was met with negative reviews and nominated for Razzies for Worst Actress (Brigitte Nielsen), Worst Supporting Actress (Sandahl Bergman) and Nielsen won the Razzie for Worst New Star.

Red Sonja has a strange history.  The character is credited to Conan the Barbarian’s creator Robert E. Howard, but it isn’t the same character that Howard wrote about.  Howard created a character named Red Sonya in a 1934 story called “The Shadow of the Vulture” but she wasn’t a barbarian.  Red Sonja on the other hand was created by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith for Conan the Barbarian #23 (February 1973) and kind of based on Red Sonya.


You get her Red Sonja…she’ll never come onto you again!

The movie version of the film was supposed to be a sort of sequel to Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer, but the makers decided to change Schwarzenegger’s name Kalidor…which is probably smart since the movie was awful (though Conan the Destroyer was no great film either).  This doesn’t make much sense either since there is virtually no difference between Conan and Kalidor (though it might have been a bit confusing for some since the actress playing Queen Gedren was Conan’s love in Conan the Barbarian).

The problem with Red Sonja is that it is very generic.  The acting, the sets, the sword and sorcery all scream B-Movie.  While it felt like the producers put some effort into Conan the Barbarian, this movie feels just thrown together.  The movie also did receive some criticism for its portrayal of homosexuality as evil…Queen Gedren is pure evil and wants to kill Sonja for rejecting her.


Oh Conan…I mean Kalidor…what will I do with you?

The movie also is hindered by horrible acting.  It says something, when Schwarzenegger is one of the films better actors.  Brigitte Nielsen was cast for her looks off of a magazine, and it shows in scenes like the unconvincing romance moments with Schwarzenegger…and for a campy movie, Sandahl Bergman’s portrayal of Gedren is even over the top.  Also the plot might as well be called “Tarn gets into trouble” since most of the fights are due to the annoying idiot boy king.

Red Sonja isn’t even a very enjoyable bad movie.  The story, the look, and the acting all combine to a rather dull, dull film that feels much longer than the less than hour and a half it runs.  There has constantly been talk of a remake and even Robert Rodriguez has been floated around as a director.  I think the character could be fun…but this movie isn’t.

Related Links:

Conan the Barbarian (1982)

Conan the Destroyer (1984)

Conan the Barbarian (2011)

The Adventures of Red Sonja—Volume 1

The Adventures of Red Sonja—Volume 2

The Adventures of Red Sonja—Volume 3

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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