Review: Red Sonja
Blu-ray: Red Sonja (1985)
Red Sonja, directed by Richard Fleischer and written by Clive Exton & George MacDonald Fraser, is based on the character Red Sonya of Rogatino created by Robert E. Howard (who also wrote Conan the Barbarian).
This was Brigitte Nielsen’s first film (just before she married Sylvester Stallone) and also stars Sandahl Bergman (who was also in John Milius’ Conan), Paul Smith, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
As in Howard’s stories of Conan, the film is based in a similar fictional prehistoric time, with the story itself is centered around Sonja; a vibrant red-haired young woman who is raped and left for dead by the soldiers of Queen Gedren (Bergman) after refusing to become the queens lover.
As she lies beaten on the ground, her family dead around her, she prays to the red goddess, Scáthach, who gifts her strength, stamina, agility and fighting skills on the condition that she never lie with a man unless he defeats her in fair combat.
After years of training she is taken by Calidor (Arnie) to her dying sister.
It appears her sister was a sort of warrior nun who guarded a talisman (that can only be touched by women) that could end the world, and you’ll never guess who stole it? Gedren.
Sonja begins an epic quest to find the talisman and save the world. On the way she meets the very annoying child-king of Hablock (recently razed to the ground by the talisman) Prince Tarn and his servant Falkon (Paul Smith).
Ah, they don’t make films like this anymore! If you’ve read about Red Sonja, you’ll see it bombed at the box office on its release and was universally panned. But amongst myself and my contemporaries this is still a much LOVED film encapsulating all the goodness of swords and myth from the 80s. Not as good as Conan (but what is?) but still a fun film with an engaging story.
Brigitte Nielson was also picked out as a terrible actress, and I really don’t know why! I can’t imagine anyone else playing Sonja, her long limbs and lithe body (before Sly made her get a boob job) are perfect. This film is extremely camp, and that’s not a bad thing, it fits perfectly with the tone and look of the whole thing.
I really do love this film, and if you love 80s sword and sorcery you’re on a winner!
Although this film is available on 4K UHD we were sent the blu-ray so unfortunately can’t comment on the 4k qualities, however, this restoration was scanned in 4K – 16 bit by Picture Shop LLC – USA, using the original 35mm negative. The colour grading and restoration was completed by Hiventy Laboratory – France, who dedicated over 150 hours of work, manually and carefully removing dust, dirt, and scratches, and it looks beautiful.
Special mention to the SPECIAL FEATURES, particularly the full length and extremely entertaining documentary about Renato Casaro: The Last Movie Painter.
- Feature-length Documentary about Renato Casaro: The Last Movie Painter
- Documentary Feature: “Arnold Schwarzenegger – The Man who raised Hollywood“
- Interview with Assistant Director Michel Ferry: “Red Sonja vs. Kalidor – The Making of a Misunderstanding“
- Renato Casaro: Photo Gallery
- Original Theatrical Trailer
Released 18th July 2022.
PRE-ORDER THE DVD, BLU-RAY AND 4K UHD HERE
& THE LIMITED EDITION 4K UHD STEELBOOK HERE
Review by Tina from a disc kindly sent by Studiocanal via Fetch Publicity.