Follow TV Tropes


Film / Red Sonja

Go To

Sonja: No man may have me, unless he's beaten me in a fair fight.
Kalidor: So, the only man that can have you, is one who's trying to kill you. That's logic.

Red Sonja is a 1985 film based on the Marvel comic book series, starring Brigitte Nielsen in the title role. Arnold Schwarzenegger also stars as Prince Kalidor (an expy of Conan the Barbarian)note . The film was directed by Richard Fleischer. It performed poorly at the box office and was also widely panned by critics but gained a cult following throughout the years from its VHS release.

After her family is slaughtered by the evil Queen Gedren and she is raped by Gedren's men, a young woman named Sonja is empowered by a mysterious being so that she can seek revenge. She gets her chance when the Queen steals a powerful object named the Talisman, and she is tasked to destroy it. She is joined in her journey by Lord Kalidor and Prince Tarn and his aide Falkon, the remnants of a fallen kingdom.


A new take on the character, the animated movie Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues, was released in 2016. A live action Red Sonja remake project was in Development Hell for quite some time, certainly not helped by the 2011 Conan remake's box office disaster but is seemingly getting off the ground.

This film has the examples of:

  • Action Girl: Both Sonja and Gedren are proficient sword fighters, especially Sonja.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Talisman can cause disasters on demand.
  • As You Know: The movie starts out with the title character laying barely conscious in a field as a mysterious spirit grants her the power to get her revenge, but first it explains Sonja's own backstory to her in great detail. It's especially awkward because it presumably all happened to her moments before the movie started, and involves her being raped and having her family killed off, which are things you'd think she wouldn't need (or want) to be reminded about.
  • Advertisement:
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Queen Gedren doesn't shy away from combat, as she takes on Sonja herself in the climax.
  • Bad with the Bone: Falkon's weapon of choice is a bone club.
  • Badass Boast:
    Brytag: I will tell the future in your entrails, Red Woman!
    Sonja: I know my future. You have none.
  • Battle Butler: Falkon is both Prince Tarn's bodyguard and manservant.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: The character is the former Trope Namer. The film provides the page quote.
  • Big Bad: Queen Gedren, who threatens various kingdoms with her powers, and is Sonja's personal enemy.
  • Captain Ersatz: Kalidor to Conan, to the point where he's played by the same actor as Conan. He was initially supposed to be Conan, invokedbut legal troubles prevented it.
  • Captain Obvious: Sonja is weeping over her sister, who's just died. Kalidor leans down, touches her lightly on the shoulder and says, "She's dead."
  • Collapsing Lair: Garden's castle after destroying the Talisman.
  • Disappointed by the Motive: When Sonja and Gedren finally face off, Sonja asks Gedren why she had to kill all of her family (she thought that it was only because of the Talisman). Gedren shows her the scar on her cheek and goes on about how it's a just revenge for such a besmirch. Sonja gets pretty angry at the fact that the people she loved were massacred over such a petty slight.
  • Disney Villain Death: Gedren falls into a river of lava after she is stabbed by Sonja.
  • '80s Hair: Sonja's waist-length mullet certainly qualifies.
  • Enigmatic Empowering Entity: The spirit that grants Sonja's strength in the opening.
  • Flynning: Subverted; Sonja shows the prince why this wouldn't really work in a real fight.
  • Girl Powered: The McGuffin can only be handled by women. Men who touched it are instantly killed.
  • Hands-On Approach: Sonja with young prince Tarn.
  • Harmful to Touch: The Talisman can only be touched by women. If a man touches it, he will instantly disintegrate.
  • Inventional Wisdom: The Trap Door through which Falkon falls leads to the Gedren's mooks' mess hall, for some reason.
  • Lady of Black Magic: Gedren
  • Lady of War: Sonja
  • Large Ham: With this sort of film it's arguably inevitable, but Sonja and the boy prince in particular can get quite dramatic with their lines. It really says something when, in the famous scene with the page quote, Arnold Schwarzenegger seems quite subtle and nuanced compared to Brigitte Nielsen.
  • Leotard of Power: Sonja's outfit, in lieu of the regular Chainmail Bikini.
  • Literal Disarming: Kalidor cuts off the arm of one of Gedren's soldiers in the fight following Falkon's involuntary "Dynamic Entry".
  • Mechanical Monster: Sonja and co. fight an aquatic one on their journey to Gedren's castle.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: When Sonja accuses Gedren of slaughtering her family, she dismisses the accusations as from her point of view, the victims' lives are nothing in comparison with a minor scar Sonja made on her cheek.
  • Mook Lieutenant: Ikol is in chrage of Gedren's men.
  • Ms. Fanservice: While Sonja's outfit in the film is not quite as revealing as her Chainmail Bikini in the comics... it's still quite Stripperific.
  • Off with His Head!: Sonja decapitates Gedren's court wizard after he tries to kill her.
  • Protagonist Title: Red Sonja is the protagonist.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Gedren doesn't take rejection too well, as Sonja's dead family can attest to.
  • Rape and Revenge: Half of Sonja's motivation. The other half is her dead family.
  • Ribcage Ridge: Used as a bridge over a river of lava.
  • Shoot the Mage First: In the climax of the film, Sonja is fighting Queen Gedren. Every time she gets close enough to attack, a Mook teleports Gedren away and Sonja has to chase her down again, while the mage uses Voodoo-like magic to cut Sonja with a dagger. After this happens two or three times, Sonja has enough and chops the guy's head off.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Arnold's Conan films. More exactly, it is a spiritual successor to Conan the Destroyer.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Brigitte Nielsen, aside from being a looker, is 6'1 and it shows.
  • Take Over the World: What Gedren plans to do with the Talisman.
  • We Can Rule Together: Gedren's offer to Sonja...or would have been, if not for the whole "scar" thing.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The final fate of Gedren's handmaiden (i.e. her younger teenage consort) remains unknown (out of the rest of the cast), though she is shown running away after being forced by Gedren to serve as bait in order to catch the prince.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: Arnold Schwarzenegger was to reprise his role as the Hyborian Conan the Barbarian. Instead, Schwarzenegger plays the Original Character Kalidor.
  • You're Insane!: Ikol reacts this way when Gedren rejects his plea to stop using the talisman before it's too late. Sonja shoots this at her, too.


Example of: