Red Sonja | Chicago Reader

Red Sonja

In times of crisis, the Italian film industry always falls back on the sword-and-sandals epic—the Italian equivalent of the western. And because the Italian cinema was at the time suffering through the worst crisis in its history, it isn't surprising to find such names as Danilo Donati (Fellini's art director) and Giuseppe Rotunno (Fellini's cinematographer) attached to this 1985 Dino De Laurentiis production about a red-haired swordswoman (Swedish model Brigitte Nielsen) seeking vengeance on an evil queen (Sandahl Bergman). It's a great-looking film, filled with wildly imaginative sets and costumes that would have done the Maestro proud, and veteran director Richard Fleischer (The Vikings) rises to the occasion with some sharply staged action scenes. With Nielsen's minimal English rubbing up against the fractured locutions of costar Arnold Schwarzenegger, the dialogue passages don't exactly play like Noel Coward, but this is a movie that succeeds rousingly well on its own humble, Saturday-night terms. With Paul Smith and Ernie Reyes Jr.

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